Our best posts
- IllumiNOT-Me: 10 Ways Rappers Deny Being in the Illuminati
- Kanye West Is Not a Jackass
- From Art Basel to Art Yeezy: Kanye's "New Slaves" Projections as Contemporary Art
- Top 50 Songs of 2013 // January - June
- Slap Genius: Hip Hop's Best Slaps
- When Hip Hop Goes to Court: Rap Lawsuits and Music Law
- She’s Just Being Miley... and Every Other Pop Star in American Music History Ever
- Trap Geniuses: Why Selling Rap is like Selling Crack
- Why No One Has Killed Your Favorite Rapper
- The Rapper's Flow Encyclopedia
- The Beastie Chronicles — I
- 100 Most Upvoted Annotations
- Verse to Verse: Arcade Fire
- Top 10 Television Theme Songs
- Verse to Verse: Kanye West
- Verse to Verse: Jay-Z
- Rap Genius Presents: The Top 100 Rap Songs of 2012
- Scarface: The Holy Bible of Rap Music
- Great Expectations: The RapGenius Guide to Rap Albums in 2013
- 100 Most Upvoted Annotations of 2013
- The Personification of Hip-Hop
- NEW VIDEO from the latest verified rapper on Rap Genius: 50 Cent
- NAS INTERVIEW: why Nas wants to explain his own lyrics on Rap Genius
- Showing Our Poetry Love
- Rappers Crying
- POETRY GENIUS: How To Read And Why
- Life is Good's Future Impact
- GODFATHERS OF RAP GENIUS: Ben Horowitz Interviews Steve Stoute
- Rap Genius Explanation Competition
- The Top 5 People Rappers Reference
- RapGenius Ranks the First Half of 2012
- Hannibal Buress: First Comedian Verified on Rap Genius
- Bricks to Billboard, Grams to Grammys: Rap Genius' Top 25 Jay-Z Verses
- RGU Lesson Two: Me and the Devil Blues
- What Does Trust Mean in the Rap Game?
- RGU Lesson One: The Signifyin' Monkey
- A$AP ROCKY INTERVIEW: Maboo v. Nardwuar
- Who's this new Bada$$ kid???: A UK Perspective
- Professor Rapper: 7 Uncommon Black History Facts as Told by Kendrick Lamar
- Bragging in Hip Hop
- Inside the Lines with RZA: Part 1
- Rap Genius goes Inside the Lines with Mac Miller
- Interview With B Horowitz: RG Verified Blogger
- Are the fans getting more ignorant?
- Rap Genius Interviews B.o.B.
- An Open Letter from Donald Glover
- Rap Genius Nas interview PREVIEW
- Drake Says He's The First Person To Successfully Rap And Sing. Here's why he's wrong.
- Operation Free Earl
- Rap vs. Ronald Reagan
- Rap Genius of the Month: Big Ghostfase
- 30 Rock: On Gunplay and 2Chainz
- What to Expect from Rap Albums in 2012: The RapGenius Guide to Listening Safely in a Hype-Cycled Universe
- Why There Will Never be a 'GOAT' in Hip-Hop: An Extensive Analysis
- SUBJECT: Jones, Russel Tyrone
- The Top 10 Mixtapes of 2011
- Top 100 Rap Songs of 2011
- The Direction of Hip-Hop
- The Recent History Of Mixtape Trolling
- Rappers' Obsession with Jewish Culture
- Dear Shyne, Ask Yourself: 'What Is A Classic Album?' Ya Bish!
- Five Tips For Unsigned Rappers
- The Navy Seal Who Killed Osama bin Laden loves That "Red Nation" Track MTV Banned
- Is Pete Rock's Disappointment Justified?
- Stereo IQ's Top Albums of 2012
- R.A THE RUGGED MAN AND EMINEM: BEEF, OR NO BEEF?
- Is The Rap Game Pretentious?
- My Philosophy on Socrates References in Rap
- Machine Gun Kelly Inside the Lines
- WTF is a Basquiat?
- You Can't Rap, But You Can Make A Song
- "Six Minutes, Slim Shady, You're On"
- Retrospect for Lu: One Year Later...
- Rap Genius Political Appointees 2012
- "Triple Beam Dreams": A Reinvigoration of Tradition
- Top 10 Lines From Drake's "Take Care"
- Rap Geniuses of the Month: Kembe X / Alex Wiley
- Freak Wit It - The Five Greatest Censored Versions of Hip Hop Songs
- Black Star: Let's ALL Get Down!
- Inside the Rappers Studio: A Witty Nicki Minaj?
- Can’t Wait To Be King: If J. Cole Really Were Simba
- Don’t Become a Rapper If: A Checklist
- All in the Name of P***Y: 7 Women Who Made Fresh Beef Into Poison Meat
- Fuck You; Pay Me (By Not Buying My Music)
- The Many Nicknames of Lil Wayne
- Introducing the Rap Map™ - your guide through the gangsta terrain of the planet
- Hella Based: The Many Faces of Lil B
- Is it right to hate fame?
- Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor: All the Lyrics Explained
- Rappers: They're Just Like Us!
- 10 Last-Minute Christmas Gift Ideas For The Hip Hop/Music Lover
- Lupe Fiasco: The Proust of Rap
- Which Throne are You Watching?
- Kill Whitey: Top 10 Corporate Greed Rap Lyrics
- Common: "A Letter To The Law" Video Breakdown
- Liquid Swords: Rap Genius on the Rap Genius
- Joey Bada$$ & Kendrick Lamar: This Generation’s Biggie & Pac? : A UK Perspective
- The Five Nastiest, Most Explicit Sex Scenes in Rap History
- My Kingdom For A Platinum Football Field
- Selena Gomez does Birthdays, Biebers, and Beats in her new album Stars Dance
- Tyler the Creator - Goblin
- Wax: From YouTube To Def Jam
- Eminem's Infinite Explained
- Bad Meets Evil Hell: The Sequel Lyrics
- Tyler gets pizzunked
- Kirk Knight Shines on Summer Knights: A UK Perspective
- Track-by-Track Guide to Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
- ALL of Tyler, The Creator's "Bastard" Explicado
- Eatbox: rappers eat pussy sometimes, too
- Wale: The Antithesis of J. Cole
- MCA Keeps Rocking in the Afterlife
- THE HISTORY OF HIP HOP (as told by Rap Genius)
- Big Sean's "Finally Famous"
- That Shit Cray: Top Ten Meme Lines of the Year Thus Far
- I Think I'm Turning Japanese: Rap's Infatuation With Benihana
- ENTER THE WU: 36 Chambers
- Raponomics: Top Ten Foreign Currency References Of All Time
- Curren$y's Weekend At Burnie's Syncs With The Film
- Rage Against the Machine: Rap, Rock and Revolution
- Rappers and the Alphabet: A Romance on the D.L.
- International Underground: Hip Hop as Global Rebel Music
- Rap Genius LLP: A NEW Legal Service for the Rap Community
- Tyler, The Creator vs. Woody Allen
- "These n*ggas be mad -- that's why they stay hating" : Thoughts on V-Nasty
- Frank Ocean Nostalgia Ultra - all the lyrics explained
- Interview With Jay-Z's Financial Biographer: Rap Genius Editor SnoopZoggyZogg
- Rap Genius Watch The Throne Cover
- Excerpt: They call me Jay Electronica
- One Love. Elzhi's "Elmatic"
- Notes on "Ready To Die"
- Al Qaeda / Taliban rap paper plate awards: a discussion of Jihadi references in rap lyrics
- The Many Nicknames of Tyler, the Creator
- Top 25 Rap Albums of 2011
- 2011's Best Twitter Moments
- Rap Genius in the OED
- Curren$y "Covert Coup": All The Lyrics Explained
- Belief in Based God
- Lil Wayne Carter 4 Cover
- An Intro to Break Beats
- "Don't Ask Me How": The Elusive TRIPLE Entendre in Hip-Hop
- Big Sean is Finally Famous...boiiiii
- Gil Scott Heron - Father of Rap
- Hip-Hop's TECHNOlogic Revolution
- Pass Through, Ghost-like: A Multi Before I Die Mixtape
- Kendrick Lamar - #Section.80
- Nas interview PREVIEW
- Dominic Strauss Khan & Ghostface
- Adrien Brody Reciting 10 Crack Commandments
- M-m-m-maybach Music
- Crooked I Decodes Crooked I
- Lupe Fiasco's LASERS
- Jay-Z: "Rap Is Poetry"
- XV Reasons Why XV's The Next Big Thing
- A Modest Proposal: Why those white-bread, hella suburban rappers matter
- "Tastes like Swag": Cooking with Lil B (Part1: Wonton Soup)
- We Found Earl!
- Nas, Illmatic: All the lyrics to every song explained
- Wiz Khalifa: probably fucked your bitch
- An Open Letter Regarding OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All)
- Kanye & Pharrell at Design in Miami: Breaking Down Understanding and Rap Genius
- Most commonly misheard rap lines
- Kanye in Paris
- Tyler the Creator: Tron Cat
- Religion in Hip Hop: A RapGenius Overview
- Bad Meets Sequel?
- Rhyming Words with Themselves, sort of: Top Ten Homophone Rhymes of All Time
- Interview: Vince Staples
- Donald Glover Interview: "What the fuck is a Childish Gambino?"
- RAP GENIUS EXCLUSIVE: Despot reveals a supergroup and gives his fans a SPECIAL MESSAGE!
- Subliminal Satanic Messages in Jay-Z
- On "Blue Slide Park": A Review of Moderate Proportions
- The Classic Yo! MTV Raps Returns, One Night Only!
- Cadence & Flow -- A Study in MMG
- Curren$y Interview With DDS
- Jay-Z vs. RapGenius.com: Who's Better at Decoding Jay-Z's Lyrics?
- Lupe Fiasco's "Words I Never Said" Music Video
- Virginia's Finest: Intalek Interview
- "Well I Guess, This Is My Dissertation" - Notes on Graduation
- "Well I guess, this is my dissertation"- Graduation: Decoded
- Fabolous "I'm Raw": A Close Reading
- Dre - Is Detox coming?
- Lil B "Charlie Sheen" music video breakdown
- Fabolous SOUL Tape
- RAP GENIUS EXCLUSIVE: Nicki Minaj's Titty
- Hip Hop & Islam: The Sacred Nexus
- Hell: The Sequel
- Rap Genius on German MTV!
- RIP Macho Mane - Wrestler, Rapper, Baller
- "Don't Wanna Go Home" lyrics – Jason DeRulo
- Nicki Minaj Pink Friday: ALL the lyrics to EVERY song decoded
- Drake, Thank Me Later: ALL the lyrics to EVERY song explained
- "Empire State of Mind" video breakdown
- "Yonkers" Video Breakdown
- Lil Wayne Explains Lil Wayne
- Psychiatrist Advises Degenerate Geniuses to "Check Your Head"
- StereoIQ Lines of the Week: July 30-August 7
- Osama Got Popped..
- DIY: Turning the RG shirt into an RG Lady-Tee
- ALL the lyrics to Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" Explained
- RIP Biggie Smalls (the Rap Genius)
- Congressman Tweets Dickpic: Inspired by Kanye? Or Mannie Fresh? Who knows?
- Woman's work: transporting drugs for rappers
- Thank You Bouillabased God
- Rap Genius of the Month: Don Trip
- Hip-hop Superbowl: Black and Yellow vs Green and Yellow
- Jay-Z on Biting Biggie's Rhymes
- Pusha's "Fear of God" Mixtape: Don't Be Scurred
- Eminem, Recovery: ALL the lyrics to EVERY song explained!
- All of the Lights: Seizure-tastic
- V-Nasty Saying The "N-Word"
- Cole Summer Saga Continues..
- Interview with producer and OFWGKTA affiliate BrandenBeatBoy
- I Love Hip-hop, But...Part I
- Rappers: Suckered by Obama's Charm, Just Like the Rest of Us...
- big boi exclusive: new outkast next?
- Eminem vs. Weezy: Who's the King of these rude, ludicrous, lucrative lyrics?
- Lil Wayne and Birdman's Notorious K.I.S.S.
- Was Slug the O.G. Drake?
- The 5 degrees of decadence in "Fashion Rap"
- Either Kanye and Ghostface both sleep head to toe with their respective cousins, or Kanye is biting
- "Get it?" Why do rappers explain their own lines in the Age of Rap Genius?
- Roots, How I Got Over: ALL the lyrics to EVERY song explained!
- RIP Big Pun
- Rap Genius University: Rhyme Types
- Lulu's son shine: What is Jay-Z talking about in "A Star is Born"?
- Jay-Z, Eminem, and "Renegade": Who Killed Whom?
- Woman sleeps with Nas, Jay-Z, and Allen Iverson; reveals penis secrets
- "I Got More at Stake Than Philly": Reasonable Doubt decoded
- "Can't Knock The Hustle": How Jay-Z Came Up on Ace of Spades
- The Top Ten Verses of 2011
- Introducing RapMetrics™: The Birth of Statistical Analysis of Rap Lyrics
- Rap Genius Interview: Adam Bradley, editor of the Yale Anthology of Rap
- The Game R.E.D. Album Preview
- Wale Attention Deficit: DECODED
- Lil Wayne on Roman's Revenge 2.0: Only One Verse?
- Poll: What are the best "fuck songs" / "love songs" in rap music?
- Wiz & Amber sitting in a tree.. T - A - T - T - O - O - I -N -G
- "Words I Never Said": Lupe Fiasco's Anthem for the Egyptian Revolution?
- ALL of the "All of the Lights"
- Tat My Name On You So I Know It's Real
- Carter IV Preview: Lil Wayne rolling with a cougar
- 420 NEWS: Kid Cudi quits quitting weed
- Lil B album to be called "I'm Gay"
- Hipster Girl Raps "Look At Me Now"
- Prodigy's Book: The Anti-Decoded
- Lupe Fiasco's Long-Awaited Lasers...Cover Art
- Thurnis Haley: Really Into Golf
- Tyler Arrested In L.A.
- Tyler the Creator & Odd Future on Tim Westwood
- Goblin L.A. Concert
- Lil Wayne Carter IV Release Date
- Big K.R.I.T. booed at Highline Ballroom
- Odd Future Is The New Beatles
- "Dreams Money Can Buy" by Drake
- "Return Of Simba" by J. Cole
- FREESTYLE BATTLE: Lupe Fiasco vs. Bill O'Reilly
- Annals of the Rap Orientalist: Talk of Money in Rap
- "Acura Integurl" by Frank Ocean
- "She Wanna Have My Baby" by The Game
- Kendrick Lamar "Hiii Power" Music Video Breakdown
- "Marvins Room" by Drake
- "Everywhere I Go" by 2Pac
- "Tree" - Kid Cudi & Wiz Khalifa
- "Loud Noises" by Bad Meets Evil
- 2Pac on Intellectual Property
- "Ronald Reagan Era" by Kendrick Lamar
- Detox - July 26 Release Date?
- Lil Wayne: "Dear Anne" Lyrics Explicado..
- "Her Room" by Teyana Taylor
- Interview - Indie Artist "b.a.sick"
- Obama sings "Let's Stay Together"
- MO Purp please! New music from Alex Wiley, Kembe X and Chance the Rapper
- Hip Hop's Hero's Hubris?: RG Introduces Asaad
- Lupe Fiasco (and Big Sean) - "Wait for Me"
- Drake Interview
- Lyrics to Tyga's Well Done 2 Mixtape
- Norwegian Mass Murderer Hates Hip-hop
- The Bullitts X Jay Electronica MOOVIE
- "I'm On One" lyrics – Tyga
- "Oh My Remix" lyrics – DJ Drama
- Odd Future in Germany
- MeLo-X = Sade + The Weeknd
- J Cole Breaks Down His Album Title
- Soulja Boy: The Movie (Trailer)
- "Trouble on My Mind" lyrics – Pusha T
- Artist in Residence: Black Cobain says farewell
- "I'm On One Freestyle" lyrics – Chamillionaire
- What's Wrong With John Galliano?
- Tyler The Creator Bonds With Tim Westwood
- Oh Mercy Me: New Music & An Artist to Watch
- "Uncle Otis" lyrics – The Game
- Consequence's "Pusha T Diss"
- Frank Ocean on "Watch The Throne".. Good Move? Bad Move?
- Rap Genius Reviews Dreams and Nightmares
- Jetlifer SinnersRemorse Reviews Curren$y's Priest Andretti
- Nardwuar Interviews Casey Veggies
- MJ Faded Way: Perfect
- Big Sean Arrested
- Artist in Residence: Black Cobain spits a fire freestyle
- Wiz Khalifa x Curren$y x Big Sean = STONER MIXTAPE OF THE CENTURY
- Cam'ron Threatens iTunes
- Black Hippy Interview
- Watch The Throne (Snippets)
- Birdman Forbes Interview
- NEW MUSIC: "Hotel" by NRK (Nobody Really Knows)
- Watch The Based
- In the Zone: Jay-Z and Kanye West Live at Bank Atlantic Center
- EARL IS FREE!
- Rap Genius Editor Teaches Kreayshawn Makeup Techniques
- INSIDE GAME: The Making of Martians vs Goblins
- Rap Genius of the Month: Touré
- Kreayshawn's Ballinest Fan? Drake
- A$AP FERGENSTEIN: on the origins of "A$AP"
- "Watch The Throne" Preview
- Ambition 2: BEHIND THE SCENES
- J Cole on How Jay-Z REALLY Feels About "Cole World: A Sideline Story"
- Game's track-by-track breakdown of the Red Album
- Jay-Z 101 at Georgetown University
- Young Dr. Dre on TV!
- Drake care...
- Lil B's "I'm Gay"
- #Ambition (cover)
- Freddie Gibbs: Cold Day In Hell Cover
- BEEF: Fox News vs. Jon Stewart (& Common)
- Young Jeezy's TM103: Hustlerz Ambition Review
- Siri vs Biggie
- Bad Meets Evil on Fuse TV at Bonnaroo
- IT'S OFFICIAL: Cyhi is an Otis Fan
- N***AWATCH 2011: V-Nasty Calls A Black Man "N***a" In A Fight
- Mac Miller "Blue Slide Park" Tracklist
- Q: what will be this year's MOST MEME Halloween costume?
- MMG loves lyrics just like RG
- RUH ROH: Tyler the Creator Arrested (Again)
- NEW VIDEO: Lupe Fiasco's "Bitch Bad"
- RG RANCH SXSW RECAP (part 2)
- Introducing the Rap Genius Artist in Residence: The Black Cobain Experience
- 13 YEAR OLD KENDRICK LAMAR WISHES HE HAD RAP GENIUS
- TDE on Tour & Too funny
- Southern Boys Collide: Big KRIT & Yelawolf collaboration coming soon
- Rap Hoods - Hampton Roads, Virginia
- Big K.R.I.T. goes live from the underground and gets verified with RapGenius
- Lupe is a rap god but also human
- ras kass keeps it raw
- What is Wayne? The Artist Lives
- New Freshness: Urbana Poppin' Champaign (UPC)
- Ab-Soul Drawing Contest on Rap Genius?!
- Monday Morning with the BRKF$T Club
- Rhyme Spotters: Twinkies
- RIP KING CAPITAL STEEZ
- Artist in Residence: The Confessional, Day One
- Common talks LUV on Rap Genius - Live Ustream!
- first ever freestyled verified explanation (don't ask me how)
- Lupe Fiasco Exclusive world premiere: breaking down "bitch bad"
- Ras Kass Behind the Lines with Rap Genius
- Behind the Bars with RiFF RaFF, part 1
- Behind the Bars with Riff Raff, part 2 (prepare to be enlightened)
- Does Bruno Mars have a space in hip hop?
- Slaughterhouse tells RG what they really think about Black Hippy
- LUPE FIASCO EXCLUSIVE world premiere: Explore Lamborghini Angels
- LUPE IS HERE
- BIG BOI NOW VERIFIED ON RG!
- EXCLUSIVE Lyrics and More From Skyzoo's New *A Dream Deferred* -- UPDATED!!
- What Does Common Think About Rap Genius?
- 2012 BET Cyphers Lyrics: Who spit fire?
- Grand Theft Audio: The Music of San Andreas
- The Importance of Music Education
- big boi RG fan contest: are you big's rap genius?
- Celebrating Common: 20 years of verified explanations, pt. 1
- MEEK MILL EXCLUSIVE WORLD PREMIERE: Maybach curtains
- Ne-Yo is Now verified!
- Dreadlocks. Rasta?
- Blog fam Interview: AFH - Kendrick Lamar "GRIT"
- Celebrating Common: 20 years of verified explanations, pt. 2
- Verified Artist Lushlife is hosting an RG COmpetition
- Joey Bada$$ new single "Unorthodox"
- RANCH RECAP: RG at SXSW part 1
- Rap Genius x BET: Video Breakdown of Stalley's "Fountain of Youth"
- The Fine Art of the Name Drop: From Pac to R.A.
- News Genius Lines of the Week, 05/03/2013
- Kush and Corinthians: Religious Contradictions in Hip Hop
- The Honors English Rap Genius Challenge - CONTEST RULES
- News Genius Quotes of the Week, 05/10/2013
- Skylar Grey x RG x Gigg "Final Warning" Verse Contest
- Young and Beautiful: The Anomaly That is Lana Del Rey
- News Genius Quotes of the Week, 05/17/2013
- The 7 Stages of Yeezus: From "Through the Wire" to "I Am a God"
- "Jimmy's Back": A Documentary about Mass Incarceration by Dice Raw
- Why Kanye Chose No Album Artwork
- Top 10 Whistleblowers
- Wale Contest: Unlock the Meaning Behind The Gifted Lyrics and Win!
- Artist in Residence: Making of "The Recipe" freestyle w/ Black Cobain
- Honors English Lyrics Challenge Coming Soon - Sneak Peak
- TV Night at Cam's
Welcome to the kick-off of my Kickstarter campaign to fund the finishing, writing, and publishing of a book. This book will be filled with all that good-good rap analysis that you love, such as of rappers like MF DOOM, which, don’t worry, we’ll get to soon. The book will be a mix of articles I’ve already written, fitted into a more comprehensive framework than what I can provide in comparatively short blog articles. What I can do in a book that I can’t do in a blog is give a whole bird’s eye view of my essential subject matter: the basics of how to listen to rap music. I might allude to it here and there, but in the book I will describe how to count beats, bars, how to pay attention to where sentences fall, where rhymes fall, and basically how all of these things can be varied and combined in order to make an infinite number of possibilities of rap flow, which is what we hear when we listen to rap. Towards this end, I will be releasing 1 analysis every 3 days for the next 30 days, including DOOM today, 2pac, Notorious B.I.G., Big Boi, Busta Rhymes, and more. You can donate to the project at this link here, which gives you more info on the whole deal. Anyway…
As long as I’ve been avoiding it, it’s time to take my exceptional analytical skills to the unique, one-of-a-kind case of the masked man. I avoided it not only because of the daunting task it would be, as we’ll soon find out, but also because I wanted to make sure the analysis did justice to his entire body of work. Unquestionably, MF DOOM has one of the most unique flows of all time, doing certain things in such a way that no one else does, and now we’ve got proof as to why that is. I originally thought I would need at least 3 songs to have enough to say, but after transcribing his song, “Vomitspit”, from his album, MM…FOOD? (an anagram of his name), there is more than enough here to go on, to say the least. You can hear the song here. To try and decode some of DOOM’s crazy slang, here’s the Rapgenius page for the song.
The first aspect of DOOM’s rap that stands out is his insane rhyming skill. Now, a lot of rappers can drop multi-syllable internal and external rhymes, as we’ve seen, such as in my Mos Def analysis or my Jean Grae Analysis. But what sets DOOM apart is his special approach to rhyming and the extent to which he takes multi-syllable rhymes. In this whole rap, 44 bars long, there are no true, strict instances of the simplest type of rhyme: external, single-syllable rhymes (“External” means they come at the end of the sentence). Now, there are single-syllable rhymes, but they are usually mixed up as internal syllables in a complex rhyme chain. (A rhyme chain is the way a rapper moves from one rhyming group on the same syllable to another.)
For instance, in bars 1 and 2 (just look at the words beneath the music for now), he rhymes “beat” with “sleep”, but they are also rhymed with “jeep”, connected inside a rhyme group on the sound “-ear”, consisting of “hear”, “blare”, and “stare.” Those two groups are then chained along with the “-i” vowel sound rhyme, on “times” and “rhymes.” If we call the “-ee” group A, the second group on “-ear” B, and the rhyme on “-“ with C, then we get a rhyme chain of:
Where the slash separates the bars. Now, these are very different from your classic couplet form of the 90s, with its ABAB rhyme forms, or even some of today’s rappers. But this is really just a taste for why his approach to rhyme is so complex, and largely defines his style.
But that’s as simple as it gets as far as DOOM’s rhyming goes. Because most of the time his rhymes are external or internal (inside the sentence) multi-syllable rhymes. This is very well reflected in his amount of rhymes per bar. Throughout this whole rap of 44 bars, there are 496 syllables, and of those syllables, 215 are rhymed. That means that there are 43% of his syllables are rhymed, which is one of the highest rates you will find for any rapper. For instance, as quoted in this article here, Camron has a rate of .41 rhymes per syllable, Eminem has a rate of .38 rhymes per syllable, while DOOM has the highest rate out of any rapper. Now, this is not very surprising when you consider his approach to what I call the rhyme barrier.
The rhyme barrier is the natural limiting of word choice for a rapper when they decide to choose a word. At the start of a rap, the rapper can choose any words to say. But once he decides to rhyme those words, his word choice is then restricted to only words that rhyme. How well a rapper negotiates the rhyme barrier is, for me, a measure of how good a rapper is. Can they continue to stay on topic, while still dropping complex rhymes?
DOOM, however, flips this script. That’s because his approach to the rhyme barrier is rather idiosyncratic. It is my view that he consistently sacrifices a consistent dramatic narrative in order to drop complex rhymes. Now, I would consider this a shortcoming of a rapper normally, but for DOOM I see it as endemic of his style.
For instance, he raps, “A lot of stuff happens that the new won’t TELL YOUS / BLUES on L JUICE, SNOOZE all HELL LOOSE.” Now, I’m not exactly sure what the first line of that has to do with the second line. But it does allow DOOM to make 8 of 10 straight syllables rhyme. This is something he consistently does, and is a marker of his style.
There are more metrics we can use to define DOOM’s style. For instance, out of those 496 syllables, there are 283 words. This means that the amount of syllables per word, a measure of the complexity of the words that a rapper uses, is 1.75. This compares as being substantially more complex than other rates I’ve seen, such as in my Nas analysis. For example, Eminem’s rap in “Business” has 1.21 syllables per word, while Game’s in “How We Do” and Nas in the Busta Rhymes song “Don’t Get Carried Away” have rates of 1.19 and 1.48, respectively. Finally, in a freestyle of 44 bars with 496 syllables per bar, there are 11.27 syllables per bar. This also compares as being higher than the rates of other rappers out there. So, DOOM is, overall, a complex, wordy rapper, something which may be obvious to some of you out there, but now we have the right numbers to describe it.
However, back to his rhymes. As I said before, most of the time his rhymes are external multi-syllable rhymes that are couched within rather conventional rhyme chain and sentence phrasing schemes. Representative for this is the music from bars 3-6:
For this discussion, it’s important to know what a bar is: a bar is simply a musical duration of time, just like an hour is a measure of chronological time. A bunch of bars together make a verse or hook, and the verses and hooks together make a song. The bars are represented in the music above by the vertical lines that separate the musical notes, such as between the word “hologram” and “even” in the image above.
(As a disclaimer, this article will make use of notated sheet music, but I PROMISE even if you can’t read music, you will be able to understand it.) Furthermore, those curved lines under the noteheads, such as from “real” to “hologram”, represent basically sentences. These are also important for categorizing rappers, as we’ll see.
So, let’s have that music again:
(For now, just look at the words below the note-heads. We’ll get into reading those in part 2 of my DOOM analysis.) You can see that there are 4 multi-syllable end rhymes in total: “hologram” with “swallowed the ham” and “sand sandwich salad” with “man’s bland ballad.”
Another good representation of this is bars 13-16:
Here, “funky socks” is rhymed with “monkey pox” at the end of a sentence. This example, along with the last one, are also good examples of DOOM’s conventional sentence phrasing and rhyme chaining. Notice how, compared to our first example (“it’s the beat…”), the rhyme groups here are chained much more conventionally. In this and the last example, they are simply AB, where A represents the “any whos / any shoes” group, and B represents the “funky socks / monkey pox” grouping. Furthermore, observe how each sentence falls completely within the barlines (remember, those vertical lines such as between “whos” and “seeds”, which, again, is just a measurement of musical time.)
We can also describe this by measuring how many sentences there are per bar. There are 44 bars, and there are 54 sentences, so there are 1.23 sentences per bar. Now, this contrasts with someone like Busta Rhymes on “Holla”, the sheet music of which you can see here, and for which I will be having a full analysis in the coming days. In that song there are 36 sentences in the first 24 bars, for a rate of 1.5 sentences per bar. DOOM, meanwhile, does not make much use of syncopation. For instance, in a rap of 44 bars, there will be 176 beats, because there are 4 beats per bar. Of those 176 beats, 135 fall within a sentence, and only 18 of those 135 are skipped by DOOM – for instance, in bar 3, between “real rhymes” and “not your everyday hologram”, a beat is skipped by DOOM and doesn’t have a note/word placed on it.
This means he has .13 syncopated beats per every on-beat. That is a low figure. For instance, for Notorious B.I.G.’s first verse on “Hypnotize”, out of 72 beats over 18 bars, he lands on 60 of them, and skips the other 12. This means that he has .2 syncopated beats for every on-beat. (Busta and Notorious B.I.G. are 2 rappers who will get their own complete blog post coming up over my 30 day Kickstarter campaign, which you can donate to at this link here.) Furthermore, with 54 sentences and 496 syllables, there are 9.18 syllables per sentence. In Notorious’ rap, however, there are 30 sentences over 18 bars, for a rate of 1.66 sentences per bar (much higher than DOOM’s 1.23 sentences per bar), but also only 5.93 syllables per sentence, much lower than DOOM’s rate of 9.19 syllables per sentence. Also, there are 383 words, and 496 syllables / 383 words = 1.30 syllables per word.
So, for the most part, DOOM does not make the structure of his raps very complex, while it is the musical content of those raps that is complex.
But then again…
Time for a little Music Theory 101. Because this is easiest to show visually, I made the video down below to explain how to count beats and bars. Watch the first 6 minutes of it to understand. I say it’s for rappers, but it’s also very useful to the intelligent musical listener as well. You can also skip ahead for just a summary.
Basically, a beat is a musical unit of time whose length in seconds can change between songs, because sometimes songs are fast and songs are slow. It is the rate at which these beats come that changes. There are 4 beats per bar, and usually 16 bars make up a verse in rap music. This is important because we can also categorize and describe rappers by whether their rhymes always fall in the same place relative to the beat and bar, or in different places.
So let’s now use this to describe our first example from above, the opening bars of the song:
Even if you’ve never been taught how to read music, you can still understand the above image. Compare the rhymes of “hologram” with “swallowed the ham.” You can tell that they still fall in the same place in the bar: at the end, with the “-ogram” and “the ham” part of the rhymes being in the same exact position. Just look at how the noteheads over them look exactly the same. This means that they fall in the same place relative to the beat of the time signature. As explained before, the beat is the underlying pulse in all music that is what rappers count by.
You can see that the rhymes “any whos” and “any shoes” and “funky socks” with “money pox” are all in the same place in the bar, and relative to the beat. They come at the end of the bar, and each pairing’s noteheads above them look the same.
However, the most mind-bending aspect of DOOM’s rap is how he subverts this tendency, how he places his rhymes in almost the same place from bar to bar, but not quite. Because DOOM uses incredibly nuanced rhythms that blows the complexity of almost any other type of music – rap, electronic, classical, country, more – out of the water. As a demonstration of this, listen to the song with DOOM’s rhythms played by the triangle first with the underlying beat in the background played by the drums, and bob your head to it. Then, I repeat DOOM’s rhythms, but without a beat. Now, try and tell if you can see where the beat that was played by the drums is falling.
A lot harder to tell where the underlying beat is now, isn’t it?
Let’s find out why. One of those beats counted by the bass kick can be divided in half to make an 8th note. That 8th note can be divided in half to make a 16th note. Now, this is usually the metric level that rap makes use of: 16th notes. They are rather simple and can be heard easily by a listener or rapper. However, that doesn’t mean that the beat can’t be split into other groupings – for instance, 5 16th notes (called quintuplets), instead of 4 16th notes (called “quadruplets”). That is what Andre 3K does in his first verse on “Aquemini”, as I explain in my article here. This also means that you can divide them into 7 – septuplets – or 9 –nontuplets? Notuplets? Whatever.
But those divisions of 5, 7, and 9 are a lot harder to hear. However, DOOM makes ample use of those divisions. As you can in the video, he divides the beat into 7 on the words “Break it rolling”, and “through ya hood”, such as in the music below (the numbers over the brackets indicate how they’re divided, if it’s not by 4):
He also divides 2 beats together into 9, such as on “While he’s in his oratory” and “glorious like a horror story:”
Now, just how fine is DOOM’s sense of rhythm? Let’s do some math. The beats per minute, a measurement of how fast a song is, is, for “Vomitspit”, 94. That means that each beat lasts .64 seconds. That means that each quadruplet sixteenth note lasts .64 / 4, = .16 seconds. But a quintuplet sixteenth note lasts .64/5 =, .13 seconds, and a septuplet sixteenth note lasts .64 / 7 = .09 seconds. He makes use of a 32nd septuplet notes, which would last .045 seconds, such as on the “hood” of “through ya hood.”
You can hear how long that would last in the video below:
Two final points. Note how the structure of the song, a freestyle (a song with no chorus but just one long verse), supports DOOM’s display of his superior rapping skills. He doesn’t have to stop for a chorus, where rhythms are largely repeated and the amount of rhymes are reduced. Furthermore, he can make it just one long verse, more than twice as long as what is normal (16 bars), so he can just go, and go, and go.
A final idiosyncratic aspect to DOOM’s raps are the large pauses he takes between raps. Now, when an emcee raps, they are constrained by some of the realities of actual spoken speech. For instance, in a normal conversation with your friend, you wouldn’t take huge pauses in between your sentences when you’re giving your side of the conversation, unless you can’t think of something to say, or something like that. So rappers have to stick to this – no large pauses in between sentences. DOOM, however, does take large pauses in between sentences, and that gives his work part of his unique DOOM flow. For instance, you can see this in between, most notably, “Funk me” and “I’m like any whos”, but he also does it between “horror story” and “the mask is like Jason”, “monkey pox” and “instead, she want to…”, and so on.
So, as a short summary, DOOM uses incredibly complex rhythms and rhyming tendencies, couched in a wordy, sentence-heavy style. However, the structure of his sentences are rather conventional, in order to strongly support just how radically innovative his rhythms and rhymes are. You can see all of these in the video below, where I play the rhythms of his words as the green bar follows along to the music and the bass kick counts the beats.
Thanks again for reading! If you liked what you read, please consider donating to my 30 day Kickstarter campaign, found at this site here, through which I hope to raise enough money to publish a book filled with similar analysis. No matter how much you donate, you will get a copy of the book. I love doing this, so much that up until now I haven’t made a cent off any of this, but if I raised some funds I could write a whole comprehensive explanation of how to listen to rap music. At the end of the book, you would be able to make analytical observations like mine completely on your own. If you want to check out an example of what the book will be like, you can read the preface here. Please think of contributing something.
Thanks! Check back in 3 more days for another analysis, because during the Kickstarter thing I’ll be releasing one every 3 days, as I said.
If you enjoyed this article, like the Composer’s Corner facebook page here or check out Martin’s blog, “Composer’s Corner”, found at http://www.rapanalysis.com, for more analysis on Nas, Eminem, Notorious B.I.G., Jean Grae, Common, Pharoahe Monch, and more. The Composer’s Corner blog deepens a listener’s appreciation for rap by showing exactly how it is one should listen to rap, and what to listen for in it. The blog features rap analysis, rap sheet music and notations, free rap lessons and free beats from Martin, and more. Martin is a 2012 graduate of Duke University with a degree in music theory, and works as a freelance blog writer, composer, rapper, and producer. You can follow Martin on Twitter @composerscorner, or email him with questions or comments at email@example.com.