In a recent post on Lil’ Wayne, a fellow OTI blogger claimed that “Thus, Lil Wayne is not great because his metaphors and similies are tight, but because he mixes these metaphors with an avalanche of tropes and techniques including personification, anti-personification, hyperbole, kenning, punning, and onomatopoeia.”
Which is possibly the single most overthinkingit post in the brief history of our blog. But that’s beside the point. The point is… kenning? Really?
I haven’t found a kenning in Lil’ Wayne, so far. And at first, I was going to write a post saying that kennings just don’t happen in rap. (They basically don’t happen in modern English – the few that do occur tend to be idioms, like “beer goggles” or “bible-thumper.”) But then I happened to be listening to “Gimme the Loot,” off of Biggie Smalls’ epic 1994 masterpiece “Ready To Die.” And I came across this line…
“Motherfuckers better strip! Yeah, nigga, peel!
Before you find out how blue steel feels
from the Beretta! Puttin’ all them holes in your sweater!
The money-getter! Motherfuckers… [etc.]”
Italics are mine, to indicate the kenning. This could potentially refer to Biggie himself (i.e. Biggie is the one who gets money). I prefer to think that it’s another reference to his pistol (i.e. a pistol is that with which one gets money, as opposed to a tool for self-defense), which would tie in nicely with the earlier lyric “When it’s time to eat a meal/I rob and steal!”
But either way, it’s a kenning.
And where there’s one, there’s probably more. Find them all! And post them in the comments! I want this post to be the first page that pops up when you google the phrase “kennings in hip-hop.” Which shouldn’t be hard, since the phrase currently returns zero hits.