Dollars Make Sense.

Kanye West’s Most Bestest Onomatopoeias.

Posted in music. by Jason Mekkam on March 24, 2015

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I had a hard time paying attention in grade school. I was too young to be an astronaut but I could space cadet with the best of em. The morning bell would ring and within minutes I’d be off in own planet, a world where little boys weren’t forced to sit still for seven hours a day and aliens had giant tits.

I was a weird kid.

Sometimes the teacher would catch me mid-space. She’d get mad at me for not paying attention. I’d try to get mad too so that my madness could out mad her madness into submission. “I am too paying attention,” I’d argue as I’d hurriedly flip my math book to a page on fractions while the rest of the class looked up state capitals for geography.

The worst though is when she’d call on me. She’d call on me during grammar. It was always during grammar. For some reason I could never just say “I don’t know” as an answer to question because in my lil’ head not having an answer for a question seemed rude.

I was a polite kid.

So I’d always just tell her what sounded right to me.

“… and now who can tell us what an onomatopoeia is? Let’s see.. wulu how about you..? wulu.. WULU!”

“Huh? Yeah. Me?”

“Yes. Onomatopoeia.”

“What?”

“Do what an onomatopoeia is?”

“Ugh.. Oh.. yeah! My mom buys em at the grocery all time but I don’t really like em. I prefer cantaloupe.”

My class laughed. My teacher laughed. I was confused. And embarrassed. But then I pretended to laugh too because being apart of a joke is more fun than being it’s object. This episode in my life was surely traumatic but I’m grateful for it because it introduced me to my favorite rhetorical device.

Onomatopoeia is a funny ass word for funny ass words (like ‘clank’ and ‘boom’) that phonetically resemble sounds associated with the objects and actions they’re referring. Being a medium most dependent upon the successful conversion of message through rhythmic, linguistic manipulation, rapping musics are lyrically chalk full of em. They’re the easiest to get stuck in your head forever spot when when placed prominently on a song’s hook like the ‘WOOP WOOP’ in KRS-One’s “Sound Of the Police” or the ‘BRRRRRRRRRR’ of Baby’s “What Happened To That Boy.”

When buried within the depths of a verse it’s usage is often self-referential and oddly self-congratulatory on that ‘wink wink see what I just did there’ type tip. For example, on “Sweatpants” Childish Gambino raps “Waking up broke, man, wouldn’t wanna be ya/ Friends with the dope man, help a nigga re-up/ Bring a girlfriend, man, trouble when I see her/ “Err-err-err-err”: onomatopoeia.” Now no hate zone. What Glover does here is clever times infinity but at the same time this has to do down as the nerdiest way to say you’re gonna fuck someone else’s bitch in the history of hip-hop. But at at least he uses the term correctly. Unlike Bun B..

Not trill.

Some rappers practically adopted/trademark onomatopoeias to the point where it’s impossible to hear a sound and not associate it with an artist. I straight up felt like Pavlov’s dog when Drake sampled Rick Ross’s ‘UGGH’ on “No Tellin” and no Rozay verse followed. Can you imagine an existence without Pusha T and his ‘EGHCK’ or a Gucci Mann with no ‘BURR’? I can’t.

I won’t.

Of all the ways rappers embrace the onomatopoeia my favorite implementer of the device is Kanye West. Hands down. Ever other story published about the man waxes exclusively on either his excessive amount of creativity or his excessive amount assholery but no one ever talks about his sense of humor. He’s funny as shit, especially when speaking on subjects he’s passionate about.

Like porn.

Speaking strictly lyrically, the reason I appreciate what Kanye does is because he uses the simplicity of onomatopoeias to to heighten his rap’s contextual absurdity by juxtaposing them against technically complicated wordplay.

Peep game:

Live Fast Die Young

(@ 2:20):

For all my young ladies that’s drivin’ Miss Daisy
Drivin’ me crazy, rock the beat baby!
Hop up out the rrrt, she beat up the payment
I don’t give a rrrt, baby he craazzy

 

Before I heard this I didn’t think it was possible to homonym an onomatopoeia. I was wrong. The screeching of car tires do sound kinda like needle scratching a record. Plus major points for Yeezy elongated enunciation.

Hell Of A Life

(@ 1:19):

Never in your wildest dreams, never in your wildest dreams
In your wildest
You could hear the loudest screams, comin’ from inside the screen
You a wild bitch
Tell me what I gotta do to be that guy
Said her price go down, she ever fuck a black guy
Or do anal, or do a gangbang
It’s kinda crazy that’s all considered the same thing
Well I guess alotta niggas do gang bang
And if we run trains, we all in the same gang
Runaway slaves all on a chain gang
Bang bang bang bang bang

 

More homonyms on homonyms. I’ve spoken at length about this particular verse for another reason. Actually do chains really go bang or do they go clang? I think I’m team clang but that may just be me.

The One

(@ 1:33):


If you ever held a title belt you would know how Michael felt
Tyson, Jackson, Jordan – Michael Phelps
Yeah, had to take it to another realm
Cause everything around me got me underwhelmed
Best way to describe my position is at the helm
Best way to describe my new whip – Yeeeaaaalmmp

 

Car sales men take note. I don’t wanna hear about a car’s milage or crash test safer ratings. If you really wanna make them commissions just tell me how the puppy sounds in one word – Yeeeaaaalmmp.

Hate

(@ 1:08):


We blasting off just like a laser
Nigga pewoon, pewoon, pewoon,
Get me back, give me room, room, room
DB-9 like vroomm,vroomm, vroom
Y’all ho what we doing, doing, doing

 

Kevin Hart says it best.

Not only does he use two here but as Rap Genius points also throws in multiple epizeuxises – the consecutive repetition of a word three times in a row for good measure. My third grade teacher would be pleased.

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