Wordplay

im going to teach u about wordplay with help from flocabulary

Wordplay

Wordplay has been used by everybody from Shakespeare

to Atmosphere to make audiences

ooh and ahh

. The

best rappers combine wordplay and metaphors to

 

create amazing lines that people remember and tell

 

their grandkids about.

 

 

Pro Example

What you get on, it’s fam you can’t trust,

Words and Punch

make rappers March like the third month

Punchline, “Twice Inna Lifetime”

What is Wordplay?

An instance of wordplay in rap is when words signify

two or more different things that make sense in the

context of the line. Wordplay is literally just playing

with the meanings of words.

This is made possible by the fact that words in the

English language (and most languages) can have

multiple meanings. Words can have multiple dictionary

definitions, scientific definitions, colloquial definitions

and slang definitions. The skilled rapper can bounce

between these meanings to create a line that knocks

a crowd off their feet. This is another way in which

having a big vocabulary is a real benefit to your rhymewriting.

In the example that opened this chapter, Punchline

plays on the two definitions of the word “march”

(meaning ‘to walk’) and “March” (‘the month after

February’). In doing so, he creates a line that stops

you in your tracks, because it’s so damn clever. You’ll

notice that most instances of wordplay in rap involve

metaphors as well. Here’s another example from

the same song. This is Wordsworth playing with the

meaning of “stereotype”:

Revive or ruin, my theories of mics,

Sony or Aiwa, black or white, I fit in all stereotypes

Creating Wordplay

How are you supposed to write lines like that? Follow

these steps and don’t do too many drugs.

Step 1. Pay Attention to New Words

Pay attention to words and their meanings in your life.

When you read or hear words that you don’t know,

write them down and then look up their definition.

Step 2. Look for Multiple Definitions

When you do look up a word, don’t just read the first

definition in the dictionary, read all the definitions.

This is crucial because wordplay is based on messing

around with multiple definitions.

Creating Wordplay

How are you supposed to write lines like that? Follow

these steps and don’t do too many drugs.

Step 1. Pay Attention to New Words

Pay attention to words and their meanings in your life.

When you read or hear words that you don’t know,

write them down and then look up their definition.

Step 2. Look for Multiple Definitions

When you do look up a word, don’t just read the first

definition in the dictionary, read all the definitions.

This is crucial because wordplay is based on messing

around with multiple definitions.

3. Think About Words You Already Know

Do this exercise: look around you wherever you are

and make a list of the things you see. You could write

it down, or do it in your head. Now go through each

object and try to think if there are alternate meanings

for that word. If there are, take note of them.

For example, say I’m on the bus. This is my list, with

possible wordplay listed after each one:

Bus

 

– a bus is a big vehicle for moving people. It’s

also the nickname of Jerome Bettis, the former

 

running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. A

 

busboy busses tables; he clears them. Bus’ (short

 

for bust) can mean a lot of things: bust off, shoot,

 

rhyme, break out.

 

 

Driver

 

– a driver is a person who is steering a car

or bus. A driver is also the club you use in golf

 

to hit the ball off the tee. Driver also sound like

 

“drive her.”

 

 

Seat

 

– a place where you sit. [Now I couldn’t think

of any for ‘seat,’ so I went to the dictionary, and

 

this is what I got:] A seat can be your “buttocks”

 

(that’s what the dictionary says). A seat can also

 

be a position on a board of trustees or committee.

 

A member of congress also runs for a seat.

 

I could keep going, but I’ll stop there. In general, the

 

more you train yourself to think this way, the more

 

easily these double-meanings will come to you.

 

 

Step 4. Create a Line Using Double-Meanings

Take a double meaning that you’ve observed and try to

craft some lines out of it. Here’s what I can do with the

three above. These lines don’t rhyme together, they

would be used apart:

I’m a driver like what Tiger Woods holding,

I used to be a busboy like Jerome Bettis’ son,

Missed the bus, like a senator I’m running for a seat.

None of those are the kind of wordplay that would

make you stop in your tracks. If I was writing a song I

probably wouldn’t use any of those. But I did that with

three random words. As with everything, you’re going

to create a lot of bad, unusable lines before you find the

rhymes you like.

Step 5. Study Slang

You can also start with a slang word and look at the

different meanings. A lot of slang terms have dictionary

definitions along with their street definitions:

Word

 

– slang def / dictionary def

Ice

 

– diamonds / frozen water

 

Cheddar

 

– money / cheese

 

Sick

 

– good / physically ill

 

Dope

 

– good / somebody stupid / drugs

Then take these and write lines playing on the different

 

meanings:

 

 

I’ve got more cheddar than a Wisconsin farmer

Rhymes sicker than lyme disease and gangrene

– Pharoah Monch, “Right Here”

I’m diarrhea ni**a, you ain’t ready for this sh**

– Little Brother, “Flash and Flare”

Step 6. Use Idioms

You can also create wordplay by studying idioms.

Idioms are phrases in a language that have a meaning

other than what they say literally. For example,

“piece of cake” means both literally a piece of cake

and something that’s easy. Idioms are a great place to

start for wordplay because they inherently have double

meaning. The rapper Legacy from Little Brother uses

the idiom “hold my own” (meaning to be as strong as

anyone else on a team) and raps: “

 

I hold my own like

masturbation

 

 

 

.” Get the idea?

Flip to the back of the book to

 

 

Appendix I – Idioms

for a

long list of idioms that you can use to create wordplay.

 

 

Step 7. Put It All Together

Then just put it all together to write some lines:

This is

off the top

like the foamy head on your beer,

my metaphors are

 

 

over your head

like your wack

ass hair,

 

 

stand clear

 

like Casper the ghost waiting in line,

like Geoffrey Rush or shoe polish, dawg, I’m ready to

 

Shine

In the above lines, I play with the meanings of words

in each line, creating four different metaphors with

wordplay. Here’s another example from the underground

rapper Session, on Tonedeff’s “Quotables.” He plays

with the double meanings of “bug” and “spotted.” You

can usually count on the best underground rappers to

drop some high quality wordplay and metaphors, and

Session is no exception.

Pro Example

Puff an L and bug, cause I won’t be swatted

I can’t be seen –

I’ll be a Dalmatian and still won’t be spotted

Session, “Quotables”

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About don't sweat the technique

my name is ronnie i love rhyming im a rhyme anlalyst i love hip hop i love everybody from makaveli to rakim if u like rhymes just hit me up on any of my messengers.
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