So, I majored in English at Seattle University, and even though free verse prose is my favorite type of poetry to write, I’m not so quick in my lyrical verse manipulation that I can actually flow…say in a rap battle. What I do know is lyrical genius…and rhyming. Now the two are not mutually inclusive (people who rhyme are not necessarily lyrical geniuses, but lyrical geniuses are most often quick with their ability to rhyme), but boy do they make music that much better. Lyrical geniuses: Elton John, Jay-Z, and some one else whose name escapes me at this moment. You know who is not a lyrical genius: The Game. You know why: because his rhyming skills fall short…majorly short. Like really, only 75% of his rhyme skills seem to work, and are continually undercut by what sounds like his ability to rhyme words….with themselves…which any teacher of phonics and phonemic awareness will tell you IS NOT RHYMING. Just because the ending phoneme sounds sound the same, doesn’t make it a rhyme BECAUSE ITS THE SAME FUCKING WORD. Its like saying to a kid “give me a word that rhymes with cat.” Bat, mat, hat, would be suitable. Rappers would may even use the words lap, slap, clap because the short A and the closed consonant sounds (/t/ and /p/) are similar. But you know which word would not be a fucking suitable answer? CAT…because its the same fucking word. If I were a middle school teacher in charge of the intervention program for MR students or emergency intervention 6th graders these are the examples I would use. And as a teacher, I am compelled to provide some examples. Enjoy.
Let us consider The Game’s current single “Let’s Ride.” Kinda catchy…got a good beat for the hook, and appropriate shout outs to those who have helped him get to where he is: mainly Dre and Eminem. Let’s take a look at some of those shout outs shall we.
And knock both of the screws out the licence plate.
Let the games begin,
These other rap niggas so far behind me, go taste my rims,
Shit, let the chronic burn as the datens spin.
It ain’t been this much drama since I first heard Eminem,
In the club, poppin’ X pills like M & Ms,
Now this first stanza is okay: he rhymes the word Eminem with M&M. I will totally give him that. And the word Eminem rhymes with the word rims…at least close enough. If I taught middle school I’d give him a gold star. Since I teach high school I’d only give him a high five. Cuz fucking duh…but maybe he’s been struggling so I’d give him some praise too.
Who thought I weren’t coming back?
Look at me now,
Hoppin’ out the same Cherry six-fo’ with the motherfucking top down,
I’m The Game, nigga
Call your bitch, she ain’t home, she with Game, nigga
Example B leaves us with some perfect non-rhyming. Sorry, even if he’s trying maintain a different flow, there is no consistent pattern of this no matter how much you scower through verse 1 or verse 2. And more simply put, nigga doesn’t rhyme with the word nigga cuz its the…same…fuck…word. But i do love the way the first lines…cuz they flow well, even without exact rhyming. the sounds are similar, the confidence in his rhyming ability is there (high five) but falls short (tutoring?)
It’s a new day, and if you ever knew Dre,
Motherfucker, you would say I was the new Dre.
Same Impala, different spokes
Same chronic, just a different smoke.
Spokes, smoke perfect. Dre, Dre…definitely not perfect. Who can tell me why? Say it with me: ITS THE SAME FUCKING WORD.
He has some seriously strong and catchy lines, that reflect an intentional, or even unintentional, pattern.
Here is a good, yet unfortunately bad, example of pattern of rhyming. In the ever unfortunate Common Gap ad, Common four consecutive lines with the words THE HOOD…
as a rhetorical device…emphasis on where this change is supposed to happen THE HOOD. See:
It’s the holidays these days are holy,
Warm like the days when my gramps would hold me,
Now I spend it with my daughter and my homies
Not far from home is where my soul be,
Fell into the Gap they rockin tha hood,
See peace in the streets when I stopped in the hood,
We gonna keep it alive like hip-hop in the hood,
It’s good when the love don’t stop in the hood,
It’s a celebration like Dave Champipple,
Hugs to the fam and kisses under the mistle,
Toe when I flow feel the power that rap has,
People givin me love off seein my Gap ads, (whisper: I’d like to note, this is not true….no one who loves rap loves this Gap ads).
Gifted like Christmas so I love to rap,
We gonna give it to the world peace, love, and Gap
Another example of this same rhetorical device is Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.. but i refuse to speak of the “I Have a dream” speech in the same entry as reference to The Game or Common’s Gap ad. This is why Dr. King moved to Canada when he came out of his comma.
You know how I know that other rap artists have their rhyming game tighter then The Game? 1). They don’t have tatoos of butterflies on their faces (oh, i know its irrelevant, but its true). 2). its been a long time since the flow of a song has stopped me so many times to say “that shit doesn’t rhyme.” good music isn’t choppy…unless its on purpose, and maintaining a pattern. Then its genius…or Punk.