An Orgy of Metaphors, Hyperbole, and Similes that Flow like Water.
Songwriters: Hall Robert A
Hip 2 da Game lyrics © Technician Tunes
Photo: Jordan McDonald via Unsplash
Metaphor, hyperbole, and similes are some of the most powerful tools when it comes to song lyrics, poems, and songs in general. Songwriters capture and use them beautifully. Here, we’ll focus more so on the imagery, meanings, and word structure, more than the themes or motifs of the song itself.
First, Have a listen:
“I'm hip to the game (right) I'll always be the same (true) 'Cause whether I'm broke or got fame Sunshine or rain Ain't a damn thing changed”
The song employs a widely used theme in most hip hop / rap music; the response to critics that the artist has now faded or is no longer relevant or in a positive way, the affirmation of dominance and strength of the artist. More importantly, the title of the song “Hip 2 da Game” and the first line of the chorus are metaphors. “Hip” in slang usually refers to “in style” and the “game” is a reference to the industry, the business, or the subject matter. Hence, the title itself tells us that Lord Finesse is still in style, a likely comparison to fashion trends. You knew this already right?
“Finesse fell off, that's what some figure You better see Mary Blige and get the 411, nigga I rock rappers frequently I'm like Stevie Wonder, I can't see a brother beatin' me”
The metaphor/simile is that he’s blind to his critics. The comparison might be a bit crude; beating Stevie Wonder would be shameful and cruel, however, the point is made. Maybe there’s some long-lost story about Stevie Wonder being abused (Biopic anyone?), but we have yet to find any historical reference. We’re taking it at face value. Either way, the metaphor uses another musical artist as means to convey his message. Point well taken.
“Wanna throw joints? You get spanked, fella Wanna talk dough? I'm seein' more cash than a bank teller Wanna talk girls, you can't follow this I been through more skins than the average dermatologist”
Cue hyperbole sex, lyrics, and possible drug reference (see Stanza 3) …Who else has “been through more skins than the average dermatologist,”? What about the above average dermatologist? Anyways, we get the point. There’s a harem of women waiting for the Finesse. Sadly, we can’t relate to this.
“I'm no joke on a fast or slow tip Pockets stay so thick, be on some down-low shit I turn MC's red fast I never sell out, fuck that, yo, I'm dead ass I'm on it like TNT When it comes to this, ain't another brother seein' me That's why opponents always get scared 'Cause I make brothers go, "Hey yo, now that's that shit there!"”
Cue supreme lyrics and possible drug reference number 2 “on some down-low shit” …however, this entire stanza is a metaphor for a sub-theme of the song as well. Nothing has changed. Despite Lord Finesse’s popularity and wealth, he’s still the same guy, brave and able enough to create money making “hits”. Think about it for a second. It’s genius.
Arguably, we can use this as hyperbole as well. We can say that he hasn’t changed a bit and neither has his popularity or “hip”-ness because despite all his success, he’s still willing to partake in activities that are considered “low” or unbecoming of someone of his stature, like a billionaire driving him or herself around, instead of hiring a driver. The nerve of these working-class billionaires!
“Brothers better lounge when I pass through town (You better recognize) Don't know? Better ask around Word life, I'm not a new figure They say good things come to those who wait - I'm overdue, nigga I lounge and rock tunes The way I be savin the day, give me a cape and a costume But no, it's not Batman, it's the original blackman That goes back like the Gap Band”
The intent here is to emphasize how Lord Finesse does not need an introduction as he goes around (likely on tour or when performing), a possible comparison to VIP or known personalities that garner respect, like the Gap Band. When he says, “They say good things come to those who wait – I’m overdue, nigga,” he’s saying he’s waited long enough and put in his time to achieve his current status. Further, he compares his fame to the popular R&B group, paying homage to their trail blazing fame.
If we want to psycho-analyze or view this from a “Civil Rights” perspective, we can infer that Lord Finesse is also rejecting the idea that all American Heroes must be white and rich, like Bruce Wayne/Batman. He’s “not Batman,” and he conveys that he identifies more with The Gap Band instead. We dig it. Identity is important. Batman is fiction. The Gap Band is not.
“I don't run scams, got dumb fans Yo, I'm one man that's quick to toast a nigga like a sun tan People wondered would I rock again? Shit, rap without Finesse is like life without oxygen It's no quiz, I get biz, you know what the deal is Rap ain't shit if it ain't real, kid Can't a rapper outplay me (Do your thing, kid) Word life, no doubt, baby”
Ditto here, more hyperbole and metaphor about Lord Finesse’s status and importance to the rap movement. We’re using “movement” purposely here because this track was released in 1996. Lawmakers attempted to censor and ban 2 Live Crew’s album “As Nasty as They Wanna Be” only 5-6 years ago, in 1990! Local record store owners were arrested on obscenity charges for selling it! Yeah, WTF? It’s hard to fathom, but hip hop and rap was a new frontier.
Back to the stanza cause “People wondered would I rock again? / Shit, rap without Finesse is like life without oxygen.” Indeed, give us a fresh breath of air. Hip Hop and Rap definitely rocked again, as we all know. Also, let’s recognize the lyrical rhyming within the single line, “It’s no quiz, I get biz, you know what the deal is.” We point this out because, well, we just love the way it sounds. Try letting MS Word read it aloud for you.
“I don't stutter, I'm so butter, like no other Word, I'm that funky type of soul brother I get stupid, but I'm dumb wise, I'm one guy That can rock a party from night until sunrise You can't mess with the rap lord That's like sayin you can dunk when you can't touch the backboard”
Bring in more hyperbole and metaphor to join the orgy. Also, cue a reference to basketball, a pre-cursor to today’s rappers using NBA superstars in their lyrics regularly. “You can’t mess with the rap lord / That’s like sayin’ you can dunk when you can’t touch the backboard.” Enough said.
“Ha, I got the smooth rep I got styles that kung-fu muthafuckas didn't use yet How long I been rockin raps? Since niggas was wearin Lee's, mark-necks and sportin' stocking caps Plus I be flippin' figures In '95 and beyond, best believe I got some shit for niggas”
The closing stanza is the dessert, the port, the aperitif. For those that are low class like us, port and aperitif are after meal drinks. The stanza creates metaphors with a few popular topics: Kung Fu, Bruce Lee, and Lee’s Jeans. We won’t pretend like we know what "mark-necks" are. Honestly, we tried looking it up. We’re guessing mock neck sweaters. Stocking caps are still popular…see LL Cool J. The lyrics come full circle at the end by referring to popular fashion once more.
The marriage here of those topics is also incredibly subtle. Bruce Lee pioneered Kung Fu that “muthafuckas didn’t use yet”, because he proposed that we take the strong parts of each style and merge into something that is like “water”, that conforms to whatever it’s being held in. Then, the lyrics transition to Lee’s Jeans and a description of styles worn from Finesse’s early days. Kung Fu, Bruce Lee, Lee Jeans; a merging of new lyrical creativity that no one has heard of yet. That’s Lord Finesse.
Give the man his respect.