By Brian Salkowski (Commentary #279)
Nas, the illustrious rapper from Queens, New York, stands as a towering figure in the hip hop pantheon. His lyrical prowess, characterized by complexity, creativity, and internal consistency, has cemented his position as one of the genre's most influential and respected artists.
Complexity: A Tapestry of Rhymes
Nas's mastery of intricate rhyme schemes is a hallmark of his style. He seamlessly interweaves internal rhymes, slant rhymes, and multisyllabic rhymes, creating a lyrical tapestry that is both intellectually stimulating and sonically captivating. In his seminal track "Illmatic," he effortlessly rhymes "die" with "survive" and "must" with "strive," demonstrating his command of intricate wordplay.
Creativity: Painting Vivid Pictures with Words
Nas's lyrical prowess extends beyond mere rhyme schemes. He is a master of figurative language, employing metaphors, similes, and other figures of speech to paint vivid images and convey complex emotions. In "The Message," he poignantly captures the duality of life with the lines, "I seen brothers fall, seen brothers rise / Seen brothers cry, seen brothers fly." His creative use of language elevates his lyrics from mere rap to poetic expression.
Internal Consistency: A Diamond-Cut Style
Nas's rhymes are not mere linguistic gymnastics; they are carefully crafted to convey meaning and evoke emotion. He rarely resorts to clichés or common phrases, instead seeking out original and innovative ways to connect words and ideas. This internal consistency imbues his lyrics with freshness and authenticity, captivating listeners even after years of listening.
Nas's rhyming style has not only shaped his own artistic legacy but has also influenced countless aspiring rappers. His complex, creative, and consistent rhymes have set a benchmark for lyrical excellence, inspiring generations of artists to push the boundaries of hip hop expression. Some examples:
-Multisyllabic Rhymes: Nas's ability to rhyme multisyllabic words adds depth and complexity to his lyrics.
-Puns and Wordplay: Nas's mastery of puns and wordplay infuses his lyrics with wit and humor.
-Storytelling: Nas's lyrics often weave intricate narratives, showcasing his storytelling prowess.
Nas experiments with different rhyme schemes, patterns, and rhythms, often breaking or changing them to challenge himself and surprise the listener. He also uses wordplay, analogies, metaphors, figurative language, slang, and imagery to convey his messages and stories. Nas draws inspiration from his own life experiences, as well as from history, literature, philosophy, and religion. Nas is not afraid to tackle controversial or difficult topics, such as racism, violence, politics, and spirituality. Nas's rhyming style is a reflection of his intelligence, creativity, and passion for hip-hop.
For example, in his song "I Can", he uses metaphors and analogies to inspire young people to achieve their dreams: "Be, be, 'fore we came to this country / We were kings and queens, never porch monkeys / There was empires in Africa called Kush / Timbuktu, where every race came to get books". Nas's rhyming style is a testament to his mastery of the art of hip-hop storytelling.
I also believe he has mastered personification rhyming, which is a technique that gives human qualities to non-human things or concepts. For example, in his song "I Gave You Power", he personifies a gun and raps from its perspective, describing how it feels to be used for violence and crime. He also uses rhymes to create a vivid and poetic imagery, such as "I seen some cold nights and bloody days / They grab me and bullets spray / They use me wrong so I sing this song 'til this day". By using personification rhyming, Nas creates a powerful and unique voice that expresses his views on social issues and personal struggles.
Nas's lyrical brilliance is a testament to his dedication to the craft of rap. His intricate rhyme schemes, creative use of language, and unwavering commitment to internal consistency have earned him a place among hip hop's most revered lyricists. His influence on the genre is undeniable, and his legacy will continue to inspire aspiring rappers for generations to come.
About the Creator
I am a writer. I love fiction but also I'm a watcher of the world. I like to put things in perspective not only for myself but for other people. It's the best outlet to express myself. I am a advocate for Hip Hop & Free Speech! #Philly