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The Half Metaphor

January 11, 2011


I’m not sure who was the first to do it. You’ve probably heard Young Money standouts Drake and Nicky use this method pretty heavily. Its when a line is spit, then finished with a word that compares to said line. Now, even though the term metaphor is usually used to describe rap punchlines, most of them are actually similes. A simile being a comparison using the words like or as whereas a metaphor is a looser comparison that DOESN’T use like or as. For example
Metaphors:
“I’m Christopher Columbus. Yall just the pilgrims.” Kanye West- “Swagger Like Us”

“I talk jewels and spit diamonds” Jay-z -“Cashmere Thoughts”

“My life is a video and the women want their cameo” Lil Wayne- “Wasted freestyle”

Similes:

“Nigga please, LIKE short sleeves I bear arms.” Jay-z – “Brooklyn’s Finest”

“Time is illmatic, keep static LIKE wool fabric.” Nas- “Life’s a Bitch”

“All its taking, is some marijuana and I’m making, MCs break fast LIKE flapjacks and bacon.” Notorious B.I.G.- “The Wickedest”

“I love rocking tracks LIKE John Coltrane loved Naima” Talib Kweli “Astronomy(8th Light)”

“You can’t catch me in the street without a ton of reefer/Thats LIKE Malcom X catching the jungle fever” Nas “Halftime”

OR…

“I’m AS ill AS a convict who kills for phone time.” Nas- “Halftime

“The flow cold AS the shoulders of gold digging hoes when a broke nigga approach them” J.Cole- “A Star is Born”

“Balloon bang pop, hot AS a bang spot in Bangkok.” Mos Def- “Murder of a Teenage Life”

For the sake of clarity I’ll call the aforementioned method a half-metaphor. It uses the  loose association of a metaphor and stretches it even further, relying on the assumption that the listener is able to make the connection between the two things being compared. For example:

They must be talking to theyselves Hov… Hands free.” Drake “Light Up”
“We make magic boy….Roy and Siegfried.” Lil Wayne-“Ignorant Shit freestyle”

This is a method that you may also have heard Kanye West use occasionally. He, along with Jay-z, who may have been the first that I had ever heard  use half-metaphors, both have a couple in their verses on Blueprint 3’s “Hate”. Kanye starts off with:

“How much they hated…Barry. Kiss girls like Katie Perry/I am never sprung but I spring her…Jerry”

And Hov follows with lines like…

“I can’t even stomach myself….ulcer”

“Al Roker… I used to knock pounds off”

and

“I stretch work…yoga.”

Another song (also featuring Mr. West) that has multiple instances of half metaphors  is Drake’s “Forever”. Drake spits:

“In your city faded off the brown… Nino.”

“Swimming in the money come and find me… Nemo./If I was at the club you know I balled(bald)… chemo.”

And on Ye’s verse:

“He ain’t even go to class… Bueller”

It seems to be a pretty new technique. But if anyone can tell me who was the first to use it or give me an instance of an old school rapper using it please do so in the comments section.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 13, 2011 5:35 am

    Big Sean started it, Drake ran with it. Now it’s tired as hell, Ludacris ruined it with his “parade…Macys!” line.

    BTW I tried to see Big Sean in concert last week in LA…for $42! Negro doesn’t even have a real album! Man…

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