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The Odd Couplets

Adam Bradley specializes in strange bedfellows.

In his new analysis of hip-hop lyrics, Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop, the author asserts that “rap has helped bring about a renaissance of the word, returning rhythm, rhyme and wordplay to our daily lives.”

In the book, the Harvard Ph.D. draws parallels between b-boy culture and the so-called “literary” world. One of his odd couplets is Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hope You Niggas Sleep” (“Niggas just can’t understand it/I bust a cap for the brothers in Nap Nap, Comstock, and Clinton/You know my shit is hitting”) and Emily Dickinson’s “I Cannot Live With You” (“I could not die with you/For one must wait/To shut the other’s gaze down/You could not”). Then there’s Lil Wayne’s “I’m a Beast” (“Make a list of yo boys/And go and murder them all/Life is short, yeah a midget told me that”) and Shakespeare’s Macbeth (“Those he commands move only in command/Nothing in love/Now does he feel his title/Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe/Upon a dwarfish thief.”

Shit, who knew history repeated itself?

Mon., May 18, 7 p.m., 2009


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