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Reductio ad Absurdum

January 15, 2010

Whether it’s Jay-Z warning that you may “[g]et your chain tooken” or Ludacris exhorting the listener to “stay the fuck up out [his] biznass,” rappers are well known for what many consider to be an excessively liberal approach to English grammar. I’m sure it was my own fondness for proper English that kept me from taking rap seriously until I was well into my twenties. But around the same time as I was discovering postmodern novels and Indo-European poetics, I found myself noticing that some of this hip-hop shit was pretty fucking good poetry. You don’t have to be in love with the subject matter of a piece of writing to appreciate its wit and complexity: god knows there would be fewer classicists in the world if agreeing with the authors’ views was prerequisite to liking their style.

And anyway, what if rap was clean and friendly and grammatically correct? Would that really be an improvement? Let’s Twilight Zone the idea:

Hello, everybody! Put your hands in the air.
Wave them back and forth as though you just don’t care.
I live on the west coast with my lady and my friends.
Because I’ve had career success, I drive a new Mercedes-Benz.
When I disagree with someone, I get really really mad,
And when my friends get involved, things can get pretty bad.
All those raised voices don’t go over well at Olive Garden.
The manager comes over and we humbly beg his pardon.
After dinner, I often drink a glass of wine.
It has antioxidants, so my doctor says that’s just fine.
I’ve got a pretty wife and I always treat her right
Because I often want her to have sex with me at night.
I also love God, so I never go to bed without praying.
Do you know what I’m saying?

Augh, it’s just terrible. I can’t do this anymore. Get off this blog and go treat yourself to to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s “Thug Luv.” Spell it “Thug Love” if that makes you feel better. Either way, it’s off the chain. It’s got a gun blast for percussion, and it has more eff curses and en words than Stephen Harper has days off, and it’s about shooting a whole bunch of people, and none of those things in any way impede its being so lyrically intricate as to warrant a commentary. Or if you’re a fan of puns and word play, crank up Ludacris’ “You’s a Ho.” I guarantee that you will laugh out loud at least once, however tight-assed you may be.

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