Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Rap line analysis

I often find myself in debate with a friend over whether or not rap music is indeed music. The arguments are always the same: I maintain that music requires harmony, melody, and musical instruments. My opponent usually declares the existence of some sort of raw musicality, wherein the sounds of someone banging two rocks together could be considered musical. I respond with an explanation of the difference between noise and music, followed by sarcastic applause for their entirely accurate comparison of rock banging and rap music. The argument usually terminates at that juncture in a mutual exchange of "to each their own," and maybe that's how it should be.

However, sometimes the dispute drags on and morphs into a ping pong match of verbal insults aimed at each others' music tastes. It is at this point that I am forced to bring out my completely air tight, irrefutable winning argument. It is as follows: rappers, without question, come up with some of the worst lyrics in the history of lyricism.

In an endeavor to prove this point, I will now fire up Google and illustrate some examples. Then, for fun, and in an effort to provide even the slightest benefit of the doubt to past and future debate opponents, I will attempt to explain, even rationalize, a selection of some of most heinous usages of the English language I can find. But mostly, I am just going to make fun of them.

Be warned, some of the following will definitely be offensive. Just remember, these lyrics have earned their writers millions of dollars - there must be something good about them, and I'll try to find it.

Dr. Dre - "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang"
"Never let me slip, cause if I slip, then I'm slippin."
What I really want to do is start with the title of this song. For length reasons, I will refrain except to point out that a "G thang" is not a real thang. I mean, thing.

Apparently, this self-appointed 'doctor' (I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to call yourself a doctor without the proper credentials. Besides, now anyone with the last name Dre can never become a doctor without infringing on trademark laws) does not quite understand the concept of cause and effect. It goes without saying, doctor, that if you slip, you are indeed slipping. There is no need to spell this out for us. Never unnecessarily repeat yourself, because if you unnecessarily repeat yourself, then you are unnecessarily repeating yourself.

If I'm forced to try to rationalize this, I suppose our doctor could be pleading to not let him physically slip, let's say on some ice, because he doesn't want to hit his head, because that often leads to a more metaphorical slip, like a mistake or blunder caused by head damage from the initial slip. Who am I kidding? This sentence is simply nonsensical. Not a good start.

LFO - "Summer Girls"
"When you take a sip you buzz like a hornet, Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets."
Ok, I'm all with it for the first part. A "sip" of alcohol makes you "buzz like a hornet," because you are buzzed from the alcohol, and hornets go 'buzzzzzz.' I decoded that part pretty easily. Where the confusion sets in is in the second part, where, out of nowhere, the rapper finds it necessary to display his knowledge of the profession of William Shakespeare. Is this a rap about drinking or Shakespeare? Stinging insects or poetry forms? I certainly don't see the association. And where does this guy get off calling Shakespeare "Billy?" There is no way to be sure that was even his nickname. And if it was, this rapper certainly does not know him personally. Where are your manners, LFO?

Again, I'm hard pressed to find any semblance of sense in this (I'm getting the feeling such will be a regular issue throughout this process). Perhaps the rapper was in fact drunk when he wrote this, and while describing his current situation in the first part, his inebriated mind took over for the second part. This is the only thing I can think of, and the average running speed of an adult African ostrich is 43 miles per hour.

Kanye West - "Two Words"
"I live by two words: f*ck you, pay me."
I could write a whole essay on the irony of an eighteen-time Grammy Award winning millionaire film and fashion mogul who doesn't know how to count. But I'll leave that for now, and instead point out the unlikeliness of "f*ck you, pay me" resulting in any monetary success. The only profession I can think of where saying "f*ck you, pay me" would actually get you any money is prostitution. In fact, any John would likely respond to that statement with, "Ok." Regardless, I doubt Kanye West has made his fortune working as a prostitute. Kanye, I'm really happy for you, Imma let you finish, but you live by one of the worst mottos of all time.

I'm not going to try and rationalize any of this. This guy's a moron.

Snoop Dogg (before he became a lion) - "California Girls" (a Katy Perry song, which makes everything that much more relevant)
"Bikinis, zucchinis, martinis. No weenies."
Mr. Dogg, if you're going to randomly throw a member of the summer squash family into the mix with hot chicks and booze, why not at least add some ingredients that belong with it? Why not bikinis, zucchinis, martinis, and tortellinis? Still rhymes, and tastes delicious. How about bikinis, zucchinis, martinis, and Charlie Sheenies? I mean, he is just the kind of guy who would be creeping around a bunch of girls in bikinis drinking martinis. But I guess that would violate Snoop's "no weenies" clause - unless he's talking about cocktail weenies. But who doesn't like cocktail weenies?  Alright Snoop, what's going on here? This is quite the loaded lyric.

My rationalization is that he was high as a rocket ship when he thought of this. He probably giggled for 20 minutes after writing the word 'weenies.'

Lil Wayne - "Barry Bonds"
"I don't go backwards, and I don't practice, and I don't lack sh*t, and you can get buried, and suck my back b*tch.
This guy really needs to work on his insults. Maybe I will "get buried" Lil Wayne, maybe I'll get all buried in my comforter at bedtime. And no, I won't suck your back, not because it is insulting, but because it is a very strange request. And also you weren't specific enough. Your back is very large, and there are many different parts like vertebrate and shoulder blades. Maybe instead of asking people to bury themselves in their linens and suck non-specific body parts you should go backwards and learn what a run-on sentence is, and then practice it, and then lack one less thing, and then people will be able to understand you, and you will continue to make millions, and less people will wonder why.

Here are a few more lines whose idiocies are very apparent and require no explanation whatsoever:
"Rock star, flier than an ostrich." - Juelz Santana
"We from two different cities, Minnesota and Philly." - Freeway
"First family will gradually lift that a** up like gravity." - Lil Fame
".38 revolve like the sun round the earth." - Jay-Z
"I like them black, white, Puerto Rican, or Haitian, like Japanese, Chinese, or even Asian." - Chingy
"Thirty-two grams raw, chop it in half, get sixteen, double it times three. We got forty-   eight, which mean a whole lot of cream. Divide the profit by four, subtract it by eight. We back to sixteen." - Foxy Brown
"I'm an animal, half man, half mammal." - Jay-Z
"You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (x3). You a stupid hoe, (yeah) you a, you a stupid hoe. You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (stupid, stupid). You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (stupid, stupid). You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (stupid, stupid) (stupid, stupid)." - Nicki Minaj

These people make millions.


  1. while you do make some extremely valid points and i agree with much of what you said,there is some rap out there with actual meaning and is sense-ical. hard to believe, but true.

    1. I'm sure there is. But the proportion of bad rap lyrics to good rap lyrics is astonishingly higher than that of any other music style.