An Ode to the Corny, Cringeworthy Rap Brag - DJBooth

An Ode to the Corny, Cringeworthy Rap Brag

Sometimes you come across a brag so cringeworthy, it’s almost masterful.
Author:
Publish date:
cringworthy-rap-brags.jpg

One of the reasons I initially fell in love with hip-hop was the confidence it provided me when I was utterly incapable of producing my own as an awkward teen. There was power to be had in belting out my favorite bars of braggadocio from artists like Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Ma$e—yes, that Mase—and others.

The art of the brag has been integral to hip-hop since the very beginning, and while there are countless examples of the wit and lyrical dexterity it takes to pull off some of the best brags, there are also those that are so corny and cringeworthy that they achieve a level of mastery all their own. These aren't just ill-advised rap lines, these are brags that were actually meant to be cool and definitely aren't. Some are so ridiculous they almost have to be intentional, while others are simply the lyrical embodiment of the old adage “you can’t win ‘em all,” but the best of the worst deserve their own moment in the spotlight.

There are three distinct categories of corny brags: That's Not Physically/Literally Possible, This Makes No Damn Sense Whatsoever and What In The Entire Fuck Caused You To Write This? Let's examine each.

That's Not Physically/Literally Possible

The biggest and best category of the corny rap brag is the “that’s not physically/literally possible” category, which we recently witnessed in Lil Yachty’s Teenage Emotions opener “Like A Star.” Yachty isn’t known for his lyrical complexity as it is, but on “Like A Star,” Yachty boasts that, “I done had sex with six different whores / At the same time on they grandmother's back porch.” Huh?

Hip-hop is rife with hyperbolic sex lines and taken at face value, this line is up there with the best of them. Are we to assume that Yachty experienced some sort of sexual quantum superposition, allowing him to perform the dirty deed on six different porches at once? If not, the only logical inference is that Yachty managed to find a family comprised of six sisters that are all sexually promiscuous and are totally cool with incest. I suppose it’s not completely impossible, America is home to some pretty weird shit, but the likelihood of this being factual is slimmer than Teenage Emotions' chances of being placed in Harvard’s Hip-Hop Archive.

While we’re here, let’s examine a couple more of these brags that immediately turn to nonsense when taken at face value (or any value).

"Gap teeth in your mouth so my dick's gots to fit" — Dr. Dre, "Dre Day"

Meant as a diss to 2 Live Crew’s Uncle Luke, this line is problematic no matter which way you slice it. At it’s most hyperbolic—which would be assuming that Luke has a gap that puts Michael Strahan’s to shame (which he doesn’t)—this line still flies in the face of the still-rampant homophobia in hip-hop which much of Dre and company’s insults relied on heavily. Taken literally, this would put Dr. Dre right next to the common shrew on the list of smallest penises. Either way, not a good look.

"I am different like blue pee" — Lil Wayne, "Watch My Shoes"

Wayne’s catalog is so extensive that the law of probability is not on his side when it comes to punchlines, but this brag stands out among some of his most questionable. After some exhaustive research, I’ve come to the conclusion that Wayne was either taking a medication that contains methylene blue, or he’s aware of a rare inherited disorder called familial benign hypercalcemia, aka “blue diaper syndrome.” Either way, there are a billion other “different” examples he could’ve used that wouldn’t have landed him on this list nor been cause for some immediate WebMD-ing.

This Makes No Damn Sense Whatsoever

The second category for cringeworthy rap brags is “this makes no damn sense whatsoever.” Far more frequent and immediately apparent, these are brags that have absolutely no basis in reality, and make us question how their creator could’ve possibly written these lines and thought, “yep, that’s the perfect punchline.”

When Gucci Mane inexplicably bragged, “And ya baby mama said my nuts taste like cinnamon” on “God’s Witness,” it was clear that the line was used more for it’s phonetic resemblance to the previous line “popped two mollies and it boosted my adrenaline” than for its scientific possibility. Unless Gucci has access to some sort of cinnamon-flavored scrotal moisturizer we peasants have yet to discover, this line makes no goddamn sense.

More examples, you say? Why yes, I have some right here.

"Asian women love me / I look like David Duchovny" — Mac Miller, "S.D.S"

The beginning of the line is innocuous enough; it’s entirely possible that Asian women specifically find Mac Miller attractive, but then his reasoning is revealed and the entire line turns to shit. Even if there is a quantifiable correlation between Asian women and David Duchovny’s sex appeal, there’s the glaring fact that Mac Miller looks NOTHING like the dude from X-Files. Not even in a, “yeah, if I squint I can kinda see it” way. This guy does not look like this guy. The end.

"My car's like the movies, my car's like the crib / I got more TVs in here than where I live / And that don't make no sense, but baby, I'm the shit" — GLC/Kanye West, "Drive Slow"

As far as plausibility is concerned, I’ve seen enough episodes of Pimp My Ride to know that this is entirely possible, but that doesn’t mean it makes any sort of sense. GLC even admits at the end of this outrageous moment of braggadocio that it makes zero sense... but baby, he’s the shit. We’re left to deduce that at a certain point, one can reach a Super Saiyan level of ballerness that no longer requires you to abide by reason or logic, even your own standards.

What In The Entire Fuck Caused You To Write This?

Finally, there’s the universally applicable category of, “what in the entire fuck caused you to write this?” Some of these are accidentally steeped in homoeroticism—the unfortunate philosophical enemy of 99% of rappers—while others are just so corny they had to have been written ironically as a satirical take on arrogance as a whole. Canibus’ ill-advised brag/threat on “Second Round K.O.”—"You might got more cash than me, but you ain't got the skill to eat a nigga's ass like me”—definitely falls into that first classification. Let me state plainly that there’s nothing wrong with expressing your sexuality in lyrical form, but given Canibus’ track record of homophobic punchlines, I sincerely doubt he was trying to raise awareness of the pleasures of going all Jhené Aiko on another male.

More recently, we have Drake's infamous "Got so many chains they call me Chaining Tatum" line from "Pop Style." Is Channing Tatum famous for having chains? No. Does anyone call Drake Chaining Tatum? Probably not. Does Channing Tatum even have a lot of chains? Maybe. Is the only reason this rhyme exists because of "chaining" kind of sounds like "Channing"? Probably. Is it an insanely stupid brag that results in us collectively saying "what the fuck?" 100%.

Not enough for you? Here is a few more choice “WTF” brags I managed to dig up.

"If I was a dinosaur I would be a flexosaurus" — Hodgy Beats, "Lean"

Rather than harping on the overwhelming corniness of this line from Odd Future’s “Lean,” I’m going to suggest a handful of alternative dinosaur-themed entendres Hodgy could’ve gone with for this line. The list is as follows: Stuntasaurus, Thesaurasaurus (my new rap name if it’s not already taken), Velocirapper, and T-Flex. Not great, right? Neither was Hodgy's. 

"I am not illiterate, no not even a little bit" — The D.O.C., "It's Funky Enough" / Action Bronson, "Cliff Notes"

This line made zero sense the first time it was used, but apparently, Action Bronson found it witty enough to re-hash. Not that it’s not possible for someone to become successful without learning how to read or write—the real Rick Ross did just that before schooling himself in literacy while in prison—but in what world is that a suitable attribute to brag about? Cool, you’re not illiterate, you’re now part of the 86% of Americans who can read and write. Not exactly a beacon of exclusivity.

"I let you feel like you the shit, but boy you can't out-fart me" — J. Cole, "Dollar and a Dream III"

Cole catches a lot of flack for being a “boring rapper,” but this line tends to get overlooked as one of the most immediately ear-perking rap lines in recent memory. Any storied rap fan knows how commonly used the “I’m the shit” metaphor is, but this has to be the most poorly thought-out one of them all. I get what Jermaine was trying to do here, I really do, but if thought about for more than a split second, this just comes off as one of those over-the-top crude uncle brags about flatulent fortitude.

Rap brags are a fickle playground. With so many words to use and an overwhelming pressure to make lines rhyme, artists have time and again fallen prey to poorly-conceptualized one-upmanship. Moving forward, I challenge any artists reading this piece to do a double-take on some of their more questionable moments of arrogance to avoid any further Yachty-cello mistakes.

Or, you know, don’t—it certainly makes my job more fun.

Related