Friday, December 14, 2018

How You Gonna Win If You Ain't Right Within?

Lauryn Hill's song "Doo-Wop (That Thing)", from her solo debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, should be considered poetry. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a triumph in the development of the hip-hop genre, and still remains to be one today.

The primary theme within this song is how men and women tend to exploit each other materialistically, and how the obsession of materialism can corrupt a person. The song begins with a message towards women who are caught up in material values:

          Talking out your neck, sayin' you're a Christian
          A Muslim, sleeping with the jinn
          Now that was the sin that did Jezebel in
          Who you gon' tell when the repercussions spin?

Lauryn Hill's incorporation of the concept of religious values into this song was a smart choice. While the particular woman in this verse is saying that she has religious and righteous values, she ends up falling short as true religious values directly contrast her materialistic ones. Additionally, the wordplay utilized with jinn is very effective in enhancing the overall meaning of the song due to the meaning of jinn having ambiguity. In Islam, a jinn is an intelligent spirit with a lower status than an angel, so due to the context of Islam in the verse, "sleeping with the jinn" would go against religious values. Simultaneously, sleeping with the gin, or rather, drinking gin, also violates Islamic values since drinking alcohol as a Muslim is not permissible, or halal. The pun Lauryn Hill uses here is simple yet incredibly effective, and gives the verse much more of an impact that it would have had otherwise.

In the second part of the song, Lauryn Hill shifts her lyrical focus towards the values of men:

          The pretty face men claiming that they did a bid men
          Need to take care of they three or four kids
          And they face a court case when the child support late
          Money taking and heart breaking, now you wonder why women hate men

The use of internal rhyme throughout the lyrics worked here. These lyrics show how material obsession, particularly money, make men prioritize gaining that over all else, including family. When looking at these examples, such as the child support verse, the internal rhyme between "court case" and "support late" contribute to the overall flow of the song. Interestingly, Lauryn Hill's shift to internal rhyme in her lyrics primarily comes when she changes the focus of her song from women to men. Her intent here may have been to emphasize the qualities that men possess when caught up with material possessions.

Ultimately, this song resonates deeply with the flaws of human nature, and emphasizes the mistakes that we as a society often make.

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