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NaNoWriMo aid: 'Understand Rap'

November 16, 2010 |  2:14 pm


This past weekend, I ran into a friend who had undertaken NaNoWriMo, despite huge responsibilities with work and home life. "Are you still writing?" I asked. No, she said, she'd given up after three days. I wasn't surprised -- given all her commitments, I was astonished that she'd even given it a start.

Because NaNoWriMo, despite the criticisms levied against it, is really quite hard. It's hard enough to make the time to sit and stare at a screen (or a typewriter or a yellow pad) long enough to generate some creative flow. It's hard to pump out more than 1,600 words a day, every day, for the full month. And now, on Nov. 16, that month is halfway over.

As a service to those still plugging away, I've got a stack of books that might come in handy to those doing NaNoWriMo. Or to those just plain writing. Or to those who like reading about writing.

Like "Understand Rap" from Abrams Image. Laid out in big font with just one or two phrases per page, it's got just the right amount of content for someone who's got another thousand-plus words to write before they sleep. Here are some samples:

Rap lyric: You gon' to be that next chump to end up in the trunk (From the song "If I Can't" by 50 Cent)

Translation: If you don't put a stop to actions or statements that are seen as aggressive or foolish, someone could decide to place you in the rearmost compartment of a car and transport you to a remove destination unbeknownst to you to be let out in whatever condition, should that be living or dead.

Rap lyric: Shorty sent a Twit Pic saying Come and get this (from the song "Lol :-)" by Trey Songz)

Translation: My female acquaintance, who is not as tall as I am, has used her mobile phone to transmit a seductive photograph to an Internet photo-sharing service that accompanies a popular microblogging website along with a text caption requesting I visit her for a romantic encounter.

Rap lyric: Big Pimpin' down in P-A-T (from the song "Big Pimpin'" by Jay-Z)

Translation: We are engaging in celebratory activities in Port Arthur, Texas, that are similar to those the manager of a group of prostitutes may partake in, but done on a much larger scale.

Rap lyric: We pop them toasters (from the song "The Gambler" by Xzibit)

Translation: We squeeze the triggers of guns as casually as if we were attempting to discharge bread from a kitchen appliance before it had reached the level of warmth and crispness associated with the setting we had selected.

The complete title of the book is "Understand Rap: Explanataions of Confusing Rap Lyrics You and Your Grandma Can Understand." It's by William Buckholz. It might just make a good grandma gift, once  NaNoWriMo is over -- it's got nice big print.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: 50 Cent performs at Power 106's Cali Christmas show in 2009. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times