Today, I’m going to demonstrate some of the most common literary devices that rappers use all the time to impress their listeners with their wordplay. And I’m also going to be helped by some of you out there who participated in the recent literary device challenge that I had where I had you submit some of your favorite rap songs and lyrics that use wordplay.
Our first two examples were submitted by Benjamin Stephens. Shout out to you, Benjamin.
And the first literary device is double entendre. And a double entendre just basically means something that can have a double meaning. For his example, he submitted KRS One from the song The Beginning. KRS is I’m teaching with bars, spitting these bars, but youngins under 21 can’t even get into these bars.
So youngins can’t even get into these bars is a double entendre because getting into these bars is him talking about his lyrics is so mature and deep that you got to be on a certain level, a certain mindset to actually understand it. And also here in the States, you can’t get into an actual bar that you would go drink alcohol in if you’re under the age of 21.
And the second literary device that he submitted was a pun.
A pun is a single word that sounds the same but has different meaning. So for an example, on a song by Notorious B.I.G. Featuring Eminem Dead Wrong, Eminem says, I got a lion in my pocket. I’m Lion, I got a nine in my pocket. So lion and Lyin’ obviously two words, different meanings, same exact sound. That’s what a pun is. So when you hear someone say, no pun intended, that’s what they mean.
And our third example was submitted by Nicholai Leigh. Shout out to you as well. And this example is using a combination of different literary devices, such as metaphor, simile and double entendre.
A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action which is not literary applicable.
A Simile is when you use one thing to compare to another.
And of course we’ve already went over double entendre, which is something that has a double meaning. For this example, we’re using King ISO song in my head and it reads dread like a rock star in my head. How locked up state of mind said It ain’t locked up.
So Dred is a double entendre because it’s referring to dreadlocks, but it’s also Dred as in something that you’re not looking forward to or something that you fear. He also says locked up, which is also a double entendre, referring to actually being like physically locked down, but also locked is in dreadlocks. Then he uses a simile with like a roster dread like a roster.
So again, similes is something that we use to compare one thing to another. I use them all the time of the teacher to try to make these kinds of abstract things I’m teaching about music more physical, analog and just more relatable, and also he’s technically using a metaphor when he says a locked-up state of mind.
Again, a metaphor is like a figure of speech when we’re describing something that’s not physically possible, like locking up a mind, like you’re not putting a padlock or something on your brain. You know, this is a figure of speech.
Now, for our fourth example, let’s talk about a punch line. And a punch line is just basically a line that hits the listener hard due to how funny, shocking or deep that it is.
And for this example, I’m going to be using Drake’s Song back to back, which is his disown to Meek Mill. And in this example he uses a metaphor and also a double entendre for these lyrics. He’s talking to Meek Mill and referring to his then girlfriend, Nicki Minaj, and he says…
You love her. Then you got to give the world tour.
Is that a world tour or your girls tour?
I know that you got to be a thug for her
This ain’t what she meant was she told you to open up more.
The metaphor that he uses is give the world to her. It’s physically impossible to give someone the world, right? So that’s a metaphor. A figure of speech.
The double entendre is when he says open up more. So when he says that this ain’t what she meant when she told you to open up more, he’s speaking more from a relationship point of view like Nicki Minaj telling Meat mills I needed to be more open and honest about your feelings and stuff like that and not trying to get him, opening up on her tour and being the first act that comes out and performs at her shows to kind of get the crowd ready and stuff for the main event.
So he’s saying that’s not what she meant. She didn’t mean for you to come open up for her on tour. She meant for you to open up more in your relationship. That’s a big jab at him, basically saying your girl is doing better than you are, so sit your butt down.
And in our fourth example, I’m going to share with you one of the most common literary devices, which are rhymes.
But I’m going to share with you a different way to rhyme that you probably don’t hear that often. And this is called a mind rhyme. And a mind rhyme is when you establish a rhyme scheme, but purposely leave one of the rhymes out to make the listener fill it in. I’m gonna give you an example by Eminem and his song Criminal.
Eminem has never used the N-word in his song, but he kind of did without using it. Let me show you what I mean. He says..
I drink more liquor to f you up quicker
than you’d want to f me up for saying the word…….
He doesn’t say anything at the end, but we know what word is supposed to go there.That is a Mind Rhyme.
Quick Guide To Literary Devices
And if you want to dig even deeper into wordplay, make sure that you pick up yourself a copy of My Quick Guide to Literary Devices.
And I want to hear from you all in the comments section. Drop some of your favorite lines from either other rappers songs or your songs and let me know which literary device these lyrics are using. I’d love to see what y’all come up with.