Where Art Thou Loot? The Notorious B.I.G.’s ‘Juicy’ Has Been Translated Into Shakespearen

| August 26, 2015 | 0 Comments


Rappers have often been considered street poets and for good reason. The really good ones have the talent to put words together in a way that makes you visualize their lyrics while telling a story. The greatest rapper of all-time is always up for the debate, but the greatest writer ever tends to be consensus pick with William Shakespeare. What would rap sound like if it came from Shakespeare? The Royal Frontier has the answers.

This is the first installment in a series of classic rap songs translated into Shakespearean iambic pentameter. Every word appears in the works of Shakespeare except ‘ledger’ and ‘persevere.’ However, both words date back to late-Middle English and were in use during Shakespeare’s life.

‘Twas but a dream sowed by antique texts —
Two delicious spices, one well fed man
United in an opulent carriage.
I decorated my dwelling with art
To honor those whose station I hope’d to
Achieve. Thus, I play’d ’til I could no more,
Focus’d, pausing only for herb and ale.
I cringe at old, ashamed memories
And the period of darkness before,
But remembrance reminds me of my quest.
How far I have come! My dream fulfilled.
Strangers surround me and praise my talents
And I enjoy rewards once so foreign.
As my fame grows, so too does my ledger.
A victim of Eve’s curse, I struggl’d for
Sorry scraps that men of fortune ignore.
Yet, despite my desperate beginnings,
Sage prophets forecasted my future feats.
Their faith inspired me to persevere.
Now, though I have fulfill’d my potential,
I embrace my origin. I am well.
If thou were unsure, thou knowest now, Moor.

To thine own self be true, a wise man said.
Free from binds to step galliards in the stars.
Let nothing interfere with thine crusade.
Once devoted, thou shalt win thine rewards

My fortune keeps an upward course, from thief
To gossip’s feasts among noble masters.
I stay generous and share my pleasures
With my whole flock so that they may partake
In the true-hearted spirit of our town.
In a pickle from mead and Canary,
Thinking of impudent maidens who burn’d
me but now yearn and compose me sonnets.
Poesy craft hath rescued a rotten life
Mired in infamy and violence.
Gamesters press me close as toasts-and-butter
From the Thames clear through to blanched Dover.
I repair to my mansion, contented,
While the vulgar visit that I may recite
To public ear in firm security.
Yea, my cherish’d daughter sparkles with spoils
As I grant favors beside sapphire pool.
Maligned for supposed ignorance!
E’er unheeded for my begrimed face,
Anointed majesty, a lord, His Grace.

To thine own self be true, a wise man said.
Free from binds to step galliards in the stars
Let nothing interfere with thine crusade
Once devoted, thou shalt win thine rewards

I pass time with billiards, primero, trump,
Such fanciful pursuits I never dreamt.
I sit in the wings above the groundlings
Atop fine leathern cushions of em’rald.
Two carriages of liberal conceit
At my service, plus my swift messengers,
Cost a purse, which, yea, needn’t trouble me.
My devoted brood repose as gentry.
Each day a high festival honoring
Our ascent from terrible wretchedness.
My mother, richly suited in fin’ry,
Is now a proud and doting courtier
Who trods on those to whom we were but soil
Fit only for paying tribute to them.
Woeful Christmas. No pagentry indeed.
We spirit our blood with fine wine from France
Remembering past, savoring present
For once life was harsh, now it is pleasant.

How do the Shakespearean version match up with the one we have grown to love as a hip hop classic? This will be installment pieces so there will be more and if a Wu-Tang Clan song is not translated than a major opportunity would be missed, that would be an interesting translation.

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