adBlockCheck

Shakespeare Was, Like, The Ultimate Rapper

Top Headlines

Recent News

Details Of Dream House Getting Much Less Specific With Each New Place Found In Price Range

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX—With her initially stated desire for restored wide-plank floors and a walk-in pantry having already been broadened to any hardwood or laminate flooring and decent kitchen storage space, sources confirmed Friday that aspiring homeowner Chelsea Lange has supplied a progressively vaguer description of her dream home with each new place she reviews in her price range.

Fact-Checking The First Presidential Debate

Addressing issues ranging from national security to trade to their personal controversies, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump squared off in the first presidential debate Monday. The Onion takes a look at the validity of their bolder claims:

Viewers Impressed By How Male Trump Looked During Debate

HEMPSTEAD, NY—Saying the Republican nominee exhibited just the qualities they were looking for in the country’s next leader, viewers throughout the nation reported Monday night that they were impressed by how male Donald Trump appeared throughout the first debate.

Poll: 89% Of Debate Viewers Tuning In Solely To See Whether Roof Collapses

HEMPSTEAD, NY—Explaining that the American people showed relatively little interest in learning more about the nominees’ economic, counterterrorism, or immigration policies, a new Quinnipiac University poll revealed that 89 percent of viewers were tuning into Monday night’s presidential debate solely to see whether the roof collapses on the two candidates.

New Study Finds Solving Every Single Personal Problem Reduces Anxiety

SEATTLE—Explaining that participants left the clinical trial feeling calmer and more positive, a study published Monday by psychologists at the University of Washington has determined that people can significantly reduce their anxiety by solving every single one of their personal problems.

Trump Planning To Throw Lie About Immigrant Crime Rate Out There Early In Debate To Gauge How Much He Can Get Away With

HEMPSTEAD, NY—Saying he would probably introduce the falsehood in his opening statement or perhaps during his response to the night’s first question, Republican nominee Donald Trump reported Monday he was planning to throw out a blatant lie about the level of crime committed by immigrants early in the first presidential debate to gauge how much he’d be allowed to get away with.

Rest Of Nation To Penn State: ‘Something Is Very Wrong With All Of You’

WASHINGTON—Stating they felt deeply unnerved by the community’s unwavering and impassioned defense of a football program and administration that enabled child sexual abuse over the course of several decades, the rest of the country informed Penn State University Friday that there is clearly something very wrong with all of them.

Strongside/Weakside: Lamar Jackson

After passing for eight touchdowns and rushing for another 10 in just the first three weeks of the season, Louisville Cardinals sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson has quickly become the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy. Is he any good?
End Of Section
  • More News
Up Next

Shakespeare Was, Like, The Ultimate Rapper

As an English teacher, I have to make The Bard resonate with today's youth. I get the same questions every year: "Shakespeare? What does this dead white guy have to do with me? He doesn't know where I come from, what I'm all about. He's not from the streets."

Well, what's totally fresh about Shakespeare is that he wrote for ordinary people. His homies. My students say, "Then why did he write in this snooty poetry that no one can understand?" Well, that's just it. His poetry was the best street rhyming of his time. And Shakespeare was the best "player" of them all! Even today, 400 years later, Shakespeare is the world's ultimate rapper!

Shakespeare had the tightest flow in the history of the English language. His iambic pentameter couldn't be touched by the other MCs, although player-haters think he sampled heavily from Ben Jonson. In fact, were he alive today, I'm convinced he would be a rapper. Well, I guess he could be a playwright, too.

You see, Shakespeare never intended for his works to be read in some dusty old study! They were performed before a rowdy audience of ne'er-do-wells, servants, and charboys who interacted with the players and even threw things on stage. Sounds a lot like a rap show, doesn't it? The Globe truly was the Apollo Theater of the day.

Rap resonates because it talks about our lives, and tells stories of love, violence, sex—the things that get our blood racing. Well, word to your mother: Shakespeare may have worn tights and big lace collars, but he addressed the same questions as 50 Cent or Tupac Shakur. Are you feeling me? Try this: I'll list a plot point, and you try to guess if I'm describing an R. Kelly song or a Shakespeare play.

A daddy asks three homegirls to tell him why he's so fly.

A black gentleman suspects the white girl he's dating is playing him.

A crew of noblemen gets together and murders their homeboy.

Ready for a surprise? Those are all plot points from Shakespeare's tragedies! Compared to Shakespeare, R. Kelly is a choirboy. Why, Romeo And Juliet begins with bawdy jokes that would make 2 Live Crew blush! Shakespeare definitely knew a thing or two about "groping for trout in a peculiar river!" That's from Measure For Measure. We won't be reading that, though.

Big Willie Shakes rapped in his Big Willie style about everyday life, too. He rapped about friendship: consider Prince Hal and Falstaff, Hamlet and Horatio, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He rapped about race issues: Othello, anyone? He even rapped about slammin' phat beats!

Back when Papa Tony's Pizza had those rapping TV commercials 10 years ago, I would recite a soliloquy from Hamlet in the exact same cadence, and it never failed to crack up the class! One year, there was even a student who accompanied me with the mouth-drumming noises, and we actually sounded very impressive together. I haven't done it in a while, so I'm a bit rusty, but I'll give it a shot anyhow:

'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,
And do such bitter business...

Well, uh, it goes on a bit more, but you get the idea, right? Yeah, I guess I'm a little rusty on the rapping. I'll practice tonight and try again tomorrow.

I've been teaching English for nearly 18 years, and even today, I'm still amazed at how fresh and current Shakespeare remains. Back when I was in college, I found so many parallels between Shakespeare and James Taylor. Then when I started teaching, I was struck at how Shakespeare explored the same themes as R.E.M. And boy, how my students from the '90s perked up when I played Kurt Cobain during the Hamlet unit!

Well, I hope that I've demystified the Bard Of Avon a little. I mean, trust me, I'm not some old fuddy dud who sits around watching PBS! I was down with Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet as much as you were! In fact, it happens to be in my personal DVD library, right in between Boyz N The Hood and Colors. How do you like those apples?

WATCH VIDEO FROM THE ONION

Sign up For The Onion's Newsletter

Give your spam filter something to do.

X Close