Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hot Couplet of the Week (WEEK Week week): Lil' Weezer

This week's HCW(WWw) comes from none other than Lil Wayne, from a new bit of beat devoury released on his website a couple weeks before New Year. I'm a bit late getting to it, but here it goes:

Paper chaser. Tell that paper, "Look, I'm right behind ya."
Bitch, real Gs move in silence like lasagna.

If Lil Wayne will go down in music history for something, by God, it should be for this kind of couplet. And to be really precise about what that something is, I'd posit that it's the way he has managed to find humor and power and weirdness out of a very simple, almost retarded literalism. These two lines are a perfect example of how he uses this over-literal wordplay to subvert lyrical expectations. The first line is a set up, and not a very good line in and of itself. It sets the bar low: a joke a four-year-old could understand. You can picture Wayne--maybe a kind of animated, Saturday morning cartoon version of him--with the sidewalk spinning under him and a dollar bill sweating in the foreground. He takes a common expression ("chasing paper") and succeeds in making the metaphor literal. It's a quick, vivid scene which he saves with that vivid bit of dialogue: "Look, I'm right behind ya."

Big whup, right?

But the real genius is in the 2nd line. Now that Wayne's lulled us somewhat into expecting another cartoonish image of some sort, we get the line "Real Gs move in silence like..." At this point, the listener's brain is already racing, unbeknownst to the listener himself maybe, to fill in the simile blank. He wonders, "Will the simile revolve around silence? Maybe real Gs move in silence like monks. Or like ninjas. Or like very quiet people..." The listener is not a rapper himself obviously, but you get the point: Wayne has set us up for a certain kind of literalism, the metaphor made real, the rapper sprinting after money. Which is why when we hear the actual object of that simile ("lasagna") it kind of takes the brain a couple seconds to process that Wayne is not trying to craft another scene like the one in the previous line. He's not trying to show us, in vivid detail, how G's silently move: he actually doesn't give a fuck about how the gangsters move. He's making a word joke: the letter "g" is silent in the word "lasagna." A joke that, again, delights in being overly literal but on the micro-level--not just with words, but with the letters within them. (See also, "I don't owe you [O U] like two vowels.") The beauty of these kinds of dirty similes, which Wayne's body of work is full of, is that for a split second as you're imagining some menacing gangster stalking down a dark alleyway, creeping stealthily, the dude suddenly turns into a casserole.


Ammanuel Admassu said...

I'm lost...with the lasagna line.

Mik A. said...

You don't pronounce the "g" in the word "lasagna." Therefore, the "g" is silent.

Chris said...

I mean technically you do pronounce it, you just pronounce it in Italian, but yeah.

Mik A. said...

Revision! "Real Gs move in Italian-pronunciation like lasagna."

Cat said...

"You droppin' 'cause we poppin' like Orville Redenbacher." Weezie shoots people and then makes popcorn?