October 21, 2013
Ever since my friend Jacques showed me some of the crazy rhyme schemes that Del tha Funkee Homosapian and the rest of the Hieroglyphics crew have come up with over the years, I’ve been really interested in the intricacies of hip hop verses, and curious how much of this “conscious hip hop” is actually sub-conscious. I mean, no matter how consistent Del is, or how convinced Jacques is, I refuse to believe that some of the stuff he’s writing is purposefully connected (Jacques’ gonna hate this lol).
Regardless, its beyond doubt that some rappers have accomplished incredible feats of web-weaving in their verses, and even throughout entire songs, and as much as I would bet that the writers themselves don’t realize what they’re doing consciously, I would be even more confident that 99% of their fans don’t notice it consciously either. Still, that is sort of the beauty of hip hop, or the beauty of any kind of craft. The more you put into it, the more likely you are to get something out of it, and even if its not recognizable and describable, it’s still there and it still resonates with people.
Just take these three verses from Shad’s “A Story Noone Told” for example. I broke down and color coded Shad’s lyrics in each verse. In the first verse (after the intro) I showed all of the rhymes that I saw, most of which Shad is definitely conscious of. In the second verse I showed all of the slant rhymes that I saw, most of which I think Shad was conscious of on some level, but more so his intuitions were handling. I guess thats what you call flow. And in the third verse I did basically the same type of color coding as the first one, except I was a little strict about what I considered to be purposefully connected.
The most amazing thing is that Shad performs all these unbelievable linguistic gymnastics to make an interconnected rhyme scheme, but he does it in the context of a comprehensive story thats actually interesting and worth listening to.
If you’re interested, I recommend just listening to the song first. Also just note how many of the syllables in the second verse fall into a color code.