Now I am no heretic (at least not by the standards of 16th Century England) but in this post I might very well be embarking upon a discussion that will surely send me to the gallows. To get it out of the way from the very beginning, I am making the absurd comparison between William Shakespeare, the bard of all bards, and Lil' Wayne, the tattooed and dreaded(locks) self-proclaimed Best Rapper of All Time.
As you all head to your garages for buckets of hot tar and feathers, I will use the intermediary time to cover a brief review of the literary tradition of rap music. Rap lyrics are unique from other forms of music because of their non-linear form. In rap, while the lyrics may still explore just one thought, feeling, or narrative, the trajectory the rapper takes from line to line is much like the way a spider crosses its web. The metaphors and similes in rap music tend to layer one on top of another so that the subject by the end of the song is degrees of literary devices away from the original subject matter. Like a spider web, a rap song is weaved with dozen of threads. However, the way the strings of silk maze in and out makes the final product look like a single thread, a spiraled arrow pointing from all directions towards the heart. This web, suspended in the air by the strings of imagination, allows the rapper-spider to jump from a seemingly unconnected outside-thread right back to the nucleus of his song without any sort of linear explanation.
Now, to me at least (a fan of both Elizabethan Drama as well as post-hippie hip-hop) the comparisons between Rap and Shakespeare are ripe. Both employ meter, are fueled by rhyme, and weave music and language to create unique tapestries. Specifically, Shakespeare and Lil' Wayne are unique for their high degrees of wordplay. It is hard to go more than a couple lines in either without losing oneself in a junglegym of wordplay. Samuel Johnson even once said that "a quibble was to Shakespeare the fatal Cleopatra for which he lost the world and was content to lose it."
Some of my favorite lines from both:
So we grew together,
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted;
But yet a union in partition,
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem.
I’ll tickle your catastrophe - Falstaff
I may justly say, with the hook-nosed fellow of Rome,
— "I came, saw, and overcame."
There live not three good men unhanged in England;
and one of them is fat, and grows old.
Tis not due yet: I would be loth to pay him before his day. What need I
be so forward with him that calls not on me? Well, 'tis no matter;
Honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if Honour prick me off when I come
on? how then? Can Honour set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away
the grief of a wound? No. Honour hath no skill in surgery then? No.
What is Honour? a word. What is that word, Honour? Air. A trim
reckoning! — Who hath it? He that died o' Wednesday. Doth he feel it?
No. Doth he hear it? No. Is it sensible then? Yes, to the dead. But
will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer
it: therefore I'll none of it. Honour is a mere 'scutcheon, and so ends
Romeo: Is love a tender thing? it is too rough,
Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.
Mercutio: If love be rough with you, be rough with love;
Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.
"I am a vegetarian, I only eat beats, wear a lot of carrots and I smoke
the best greens. No beef in my grocery bag. Just a whole bunch of
swishers and a can whoop ass. I strapped like a book bag so anyone of
y'all can come on and get a foot tag."
"I advance my flow, and they must like that. They like it so much
they say they write that. Barking at the dog but I don't bite back. I
ain't CPR I ain't bringing their life back."
"I'm a beast, I'm a dog I should rap with a muzzle. Peyton Manning
flow, I just go, no huddle. Baby girl getting straight dick no cuddle.
You know I'm out this world I just bought a space shuttle."
"I'm running this, and I can jump the hurdles. I feel like I'm racing a bunch of little turtles. I keep a bandana like the Ninja Turtles. I'm like a turtle when I sip the purple."
That is all I've got right now, it's much harder to find the good Shakespeare lines online so if anyone has some favorite feel free to post. It seems I see the angry horde out my window, when did pitchforks go out of fashion?