By Jonathan Van Linden, Etowah High School, Woodstock, Georgia
Rap music can seem like a labyrinth of bizarre similes, twisted rhymes and meaningless slang to those not accustomed to the unique and rapid style. It can take months of constant listening for one to be able pick apart the meaning of a rap song with ease.
Fortunately, there is hope for those who are having trouble with deciphering the music. It comes in the form of a new book called “Understand Rap: Explanations of Confusing Rap You and Your Grandma Can Understand,” by William Buckholz. The book is a half humorous, half technical textbook of sorts that provides broken-down explanations of even the most confusing rap lyrics.
The book is separated into sections by what subject the lyrics in that section are about, such as Money, Cars, Threats, et cetera. The lyrics selected come from several rap artists, and I was impressed with the range of the artists and lyrics selected.
The basic layout of the book is simple and easy to follow. Each entry first presents an original lyric from a song, followed by the name of that song, the album the song is from and the artist. Buckholz then provides an easy to understand explanation of the lyric in a very professional manner. Much of the book’s humor comes across almost unintentionally in the contrast between the original lyric and the matter-of-fact translation.
An excellent example would be the translation Buckholz provides for the Lil Wayne lyric, “It ain’t my birthday but I got my name on the cake,” from the song “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy” from 2006’s Like Father Like Son. Buckholz provides the translation, “One of the names for money is the same as the dessert that is eaten in celebration of another year a human has lived. While no one would observe an annually occurring day 365 times a year, each day is equally joyous to me because of the income that is constantly flowing in, and is therefore worthy of celebration.”
This is an excellent example of the offbeat humor the book provides. Buckholz is so dry and literal in his explanations of these extravagant and colorful lyrics, that I often found myself smiling each time I read an entry. I would recommend the book for anyone interested in rap, whether it is a newcomer looking for a good first exposure or an experienced listener looking for a new take on familiar lyrics.the original article from hsj.org, written by Jonathan Van Linden