Hip Hop Lyrics Found In Great Literature
There’s nothing I love more than finding a passage in Shakespeare or Moby Dick that I’ve heard before in a hip hop song. What better proof that all ideas are recycled, translated for the current generation?
Dr. Dre? Quoting Moby Dick. Eminem? Quoting Chuang Tzu and Shakespeare. (Really, my theory is that Eminem and Dre travelled back in time, freestyled some truth, and inspired the authors…)
Here are a few of my favorite philosophical ideas, written and spat by our greatest authors and our greatest MCs.
1. Ahab and Dr. Dre
“Come, Ahab’s compliments to ye; come and see if ye can swerve me. Swerve me? Ye cannot swerve me, else ye swerve yourselves!” – Moby Dick
“You tryin to check my homey, you better check yo self Cause when you diss Dre you diss yourself.” – Dr. Dre
2. Richard III and Eminem
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
– Richard III, Shakespeare
“I am Whatever you say I am If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am.” – Eminem
[Since the Shakespeare doesn’t provide much context, Richard III is explaining how everyone calls him a villain because he’s deformed. And like Eminem echoed, he is what everyone says he is.]
3. Chuang Tzu and Eminem
“The real, the divine, the existential, is to be attained by losing yourself completely in it. Even the effort to attain it becomes a barrier – then you cannot lose yourself. Even the effort to lose yourself becomes a barrier.” – Chuang Tzu
“You better lose yourself in the music, the moment. You own it, you better never let it go.” – Eminem
4. Shakespeare and Wu-Tang
“Thou visible God!
That solder’st close impossibilities,
And maest them kiss! Thou speak’st with every tongue,
To every purpose! O thou touch of hearts!
Yes, money speaks with every tongue.”
– Timon of Athens, Shakespeare
“Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M. Get the money. Dolla dolla bill yo.” – Method Man
[Here Shakespeare is talking about the power of money. Damn he’s dense.]
Anyone else catch any hip hop lyrics mirrored in classics?