The Intricacies of a Great Rhyme

A couple of years back I reviewed Adam Bradley’s Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop and I said the following in the opening paragraph:

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone disparage rap as being a bunch of noise, or devoid of talent, or lacking in creativity, then perhaps I’d be as rich as some of rap’s biggest stars—okay, maybe I wouldn’t be that rich, but I’d have a whole bunch of dollar bills in my pocket.  Sometimes I ignore the charges and other times I defend rap music against them by explaining just how difficult it is to craft a song that’s composed of multiple verses that are expected to make sense with each other as well as with the song’s hook (i.e, its chorus, and don’t get me started on the difficulty of writing a memorable [= catchy] hook that fits with the song’s theme and maintains the artist’s lyrical integrity), display clever wordplay by means of a variety of rhetorical devices (e.g., simile, metaphor, personification, etc.), all while rhyming.

I stand by that statement. Making good rap music is a lot more difficult to do than its detractors would like think. And in light of my recent post on The Rise and Fall of Canibus, and the role Eminem played in his demise, I thought I’d note something I came across on Youtube. But I want to first share a comment I made to Bryan L. about three years ago:

There’s plenty of things that I don’t like that Eminem does especially when he raps in stupid voices just for the sake of doing it. Sometimes a stupid voice can play an important part in a song, but when the entire song is like that it gets annoying. I don’t know if you remember this, but a few years back Kanye did an MTV special and he brought Sway to his mother’s house. While there he pulled out a painting he did in high school and said it was of a beat. He said that he could visualize beats. If you can visualize Eminem’s rhymes and put aside the way he sounds in some of them, or how he looks when performing them, or whatever, then it’s absolutely unparalleled and amazing.

More recently (a few months ago) I was discussing with my pastor how I believe that all truth, beauty, and goodness is a witness to God. I used Eminem’s raps as an example. My point was that while the content of a particular song might be disgusting if taken seriously; the structure of the rhyme itself, with all of its intricacies, is actually a thing of beauty. The following video brings a visual element to what I’ve been saying all these years.



One thought on “The Intricacies of a Great Rhyme

  1. Hey Nick,

    Why don’t you post a few of your bars for everyone to see! I know from some of your past posts that you used to be a rapper.

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