Over the past few years in my circles I have been known to always have something wordy to say. Wordplay has been part of my writing and has been quintessential in making me create compelling stories, build humor and visualizations.
Wordplay comes through various literal devices from puns, metaphors, similles, alliteration and hyperboles. There is a common misconception locally that wordplay is only puns. We have seen a lot of local rappers over populate a verse with pun after pun. I am going to cover much on puns in this particular article.
I am also going to teach the art of one-liners. Most of these are really formulae used by comedians but they also work when constructing the type of punchlines that you’d get from mUnetsi, Noble Stylz, Blacperl, Miss Kiddy or Murda Mook.
Even if you will not use these formulae a lot, it’s important to just have them stashed somewhere in your rap tool box.
Let’s Talk About Puns
Use puns sparingly, they tend to make dry humour. but this is how they are done.
Find two words that sound the same, we call these homonyms. Let’s call them word x and y.
Create the setup in a manner that makes people think you are talking about word x but by the end of the sentence make the statement turn out to mean word y. This is known as the punchline.
For instance bars (lyrics / prison bars/ pubs) sounds like buzz (sound made by a bee)
I can come up with so many lines right now…
“My track has more buzz than Guantanamo Bay”
S you can make double entendres, tripple or even quad…. You just need to know your words. fatten the vocabulary of you language of choice.
Another way to use puns is to break down a word into it’s phonetic sounds and find a word that you can fit into it.
For instance, the word mainstream refers to popularly accepted traditional media. However we have seen papers such as H-Metro in Zimbabwe and The Daily Sun in South Africa focus a lot on stories that shame other individuals.
Since Shame rhymes with main, you can then in witty fashion call them the Shame-stream Media.
Try this with so many words, look for parts of words that sound the same or at least rhyme.
“Peter Piper picked a pack of pickled peppers”
That’s what alliteration is, when you make the sound of a strong consonant dominant is a sentence such that it has some for of rhythm to it.
Basically you can use these when making good poetry or a fast rhyme scheme.
Metaphors and Similes
Most people happen to confuse metaphors and similes.
A metaphor basically says X is Y.
A simile says X is LIKE Y.
When metaphors and similes are exaggerated, they are known as hyperbole’s.
Some of the most memorable metaphors break a few rules, they make comparisons with 2 different things you do not expect to be related.
If I say
“My bars are hard like rocks.” , well that’s not really an amazing simile, while it is of curse a simile, but it sounds common and cliche. Rocks are indeed hard but you need to catch people of guard.
Say something like, “My bars are hard like my pen is on Viagra.”
Or if you feel like the word Viagra is too direct, you can hide it in a metaphor (Yes you can make similes out of metaphors). Viagra is metaphorically “the blue pill”. This is widespread common knowledge.
So I can remix that line to “My bars are hard like my pen was on the blue pill.”
Or , “My bars are hard like my ink is Aphrodisiac”
It will always be better than cliche and expected bars. That’s the difference between basic rap dudes and someone like Cyhi The Prince.
Mix up your knowledge
Now of course you can combine more than one device in a line…
For instance you can use both puns and similes
To say something like
“My bars are hard like my ink is Aphrodisiac,
You Mickey Mouse rappers gon’ need some Aphro-Disney-yac!
There are many metaphors and similes in those lines, interweaved and creating multiple meanings for your audience to choose from.
The audience loves this cause humans love choice. Each reader or listener can decide what those statements mean to them.
Always Convey Meaning
At the end of the day if your wordplay is not conveying meaning or building up on an actual plot, it is useless. Make sure you are plugin thses ingredients into an actual concept.
Curry may be good a s an ingredient but at the end of the day no one ever cooks curry alone in a pot to eat it like that. It must be added to actual meals.
Alliteration, Puns, Metaphors and Similes are just some of the many devices one can use to spruce up something which already has a plot, just to give it more taste and beautify it to be appealling to our minds. Never forget that.