Hip-hop is kind of like a Transformer: there’s more to it than meets the eye. On the surface, it may seem like it’s all money, dro and asses being thrown in a circle, but the deeper you dig, the more lyrical gold you discover. In other words, today’s article is about the literary side of the ever-evolving genre most people love to hate. I have spent the last week scouring my iTunes library and I believe I have compiled an incredibly incomprehensive list of clever rhymes to somewhat satisfy the masses. Without further ado, I present to you a handful of crafty lines courtesy of various rappers:
1.) “Put that f*ckin’ cow on my level ‘cause I’m raisin’ the stakes / Mom I made you a promise, it’s no more section 8 /When we ate, it’s the steaks, now our section is great” -Tyler, The Creator, “Smuckers”
Explanation: Tyler’s clearly using the homonyms “stake” and “steak” to his advantage here. When he tells the listener to put a random cow on his level, he’s citing the raising of stakes as a reason for doing so. And since cows make steak, the homonym aspect is brought into play. Tyler also points out that while he and his mother used to live in section eight housing, their situation has now vastly improved, allowing him to eat steak during a great period of his life.
2.) “It’s Tunechi, homie, master of ceremonies I knock ‘em down, domino effect, no pepperoni I swear” -Lil Wayne, “Smuckers”
Explanation: I realize I’m citing the same song twice, but Señor Weezy’s insane wordplay more than makes up for it. He starts off the passage by saying he’s the master of ceremonies, which is a clever way of letting everyone know he runs life. After that, he shouts out Domino’s pizza with a double entendre of sorts. He states that his foes will be knocked down like dominoes if they step up to the king, but he’s also inferring that he will eat whack rappers alive like a slice of Domino’s pizza. He does make it clear, however, that he dislikes pepperoni.
3.) “Sneak that rap, put a message in, it’s that sugary medicine/ Feel like the intro, but better than it’s ever been/ Jumping like checkers, clever like chess is” -Chance the Rapper, “Heaven Only Knows”
Explanation: Chance gets very introspective during this particular segment of his fiery verse. He asserts that, like children’s medicine, his raps deliver a powerful message while still appealing to the aesthetic of the listener. He goes on to say that he can be jumpy and energetic like checkers, a game in which pieces jump from place to place, or measured and calculated like the game of chess.
4. “Homie chose to go toe-to-toe, I had to break his leg/ Like a cliché to rock a show, is that over your head?” -Ab-Soul, “Black Lip Bastard (Remix)”
Explanation: Ab-Soul’s doing a lot of different things here. First, he rewords the timeless phrase, “head-to-head,” and then uses the reworded phrase to transition into another classic phrase, “break a leg.” He then asks the listener if what he said is too complicated to comprehend. He also asks if the aforementioned broken leg is over the head of whoever’s listening, putting you in the shoes of the “homie.”
5.) “Colder than gazpacho, colder than the mono/ Rapping head honcho, rocking shows like I was Bono” -Mac Miller, “Diablo”
Explanation: Larry Fisherman’s alter ego starts off by comparing his steez to gazpacho, a cold soup typically made out of tomatoes and raw vegetables. He emphasizes his undeniable swagger by re-comparing himself to a severe illness. He then transitions into an alliteration (“head honcho”) and finishes it off by saying he kills concerts like the renowned U2 spearhead.
6. “Like E = MC squared, nah/ E = Eater of MCs, beware/ Watch me shine in the darkness like a flare/ Married to the game, I’m the heir to the throne you been watching” -Logic, “War Vet”
Explanation: PEOPLE, THIS IS WORDPLAY. Logic takes the groundbreaking equation postulated by Albert Einstein and transforms it into an emphatic battle cry. He then likens himself to a flare and proceeds to tell the audience that he is married to the rap game. The rap game is commonly portrayed as a woman, so it makes sense that he would put a ring on it. He then extends the marriage metaphor by saying he’s the heir to the throne of rap.
7. “Slap her ass like she scored 30” -Action Bronson, “Practice”
Explanation: Even though this vicious one-liner errors on the side of ignorance, I included it because it has more layers than a large onion. Sports players are known to slap ass when something positive happens and basketball players are no exception. If anything, they slap the most ass in all the land. So when Bronson says he slaps the booty of a woman like she scored thirty points in one basketball game, he means it in the best way possible. Bronson is proud of this mystery woman and a butt slap is his token of appreciation. It is also safe to assume that, judging from the sexual overtones that come with touching butts, Bronson wants to cuff this unknown vixen. Bronson for the game, set, match.