1

I know the definition, but it's such an odd construction. It means a comeback or a defiant response, usually verbal.

I'm aware of the song "Clap Back" by Ja Rule, but in curious if they created it out of whole cloth or if it was in use before that.

Perhaps related to "slow clap" (sarcastic applause).

2

It appears to be a recent coinage from rap music. The expression derives from an previous expression used in the song "Clap that boy" where clap means "shoot". Clap with that connotation actually dates back to the 90s:

Clapback:

  • The term ultimately derives from a 2003 song by Ja Rule, appropriately titled “Clap Back.” The phrase is the meat of the hook (“Clap back, we gon’ clap back”), which answers what Ja Rule and his crew will do to rappers who disrespect them.

  • The song is a diss track, or a song written primarily to diss another rapper or a competing rap label. “Clap Back” is aimed at rappers 50 Cent and Eminem, and is just one of many diss tracks released in the beef between Murder Inc. Records (the label Ja Rule was on) and Shady Records (which signed 50 Cent and was owned by Eminem).

The clapping here isn’t literal. Ja Rule references another rap to explain what clapping back is:

  • All these wanksta snitches, let the nina [9mm handgun] blow kisses If she somehow misses, he gon' meet the mistress And "Clap that boy" like Birdman and Clipse.

  • “Clap that boy” is a reference to Birdman’s 2000 song “What Happened To The Boy?” (feat. Clipse and on the eponymous album Birdman), in which the boy in question snitched, and “we put a clap into that boy.”

  • You may think the clap in question is the well-known clap that means “a sudden blow.” It’s not. In this context, clap refers to shooting someone; the word refers to the sound of a handgun shot.

(M-W)

1

There was a 1990's hip hop group with the Name OGC, standing for Original Gun Clappers (Originoo Gunn Clappaz) that definitely preceeeds this horrible Ja Rule song.

But, yes clapping a gun is shooting. Clapping back is shooting back.

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