William Shakespeare, John Milton, Waka Flocka Flame. The first two are mere philistines, over appreciated for their incoherent chicken scratch babble. The last a true gentleman, the foremost poet of our generation. Both Milton and Shakespeare use iambic pentameter, obviously copying Geoffrey Chaucer, without giving him any credit. They are the worst kind of plagiarizers, uninspired and haughty. Flocka, however, bleeds originality out of his God given dermatological orifices. Waka Flocka Flame’s “Hard in Da Paint” is a scathing public critique, eloquently bringing to the forefront societal flaws.
In the opening stanza, Flockavelli surprisingly opens with the chorus, barking “I go hard in da muthafuckin’ paint, *****/ Leave you stankin’ *****/ What da fuck you thankin’ *****?” (Flockavelli 1). This triplet is quite obviously representative of a dialogue between 43rd President George W. Bush and the American people concerning the Iraq war. In the first line, ex-President Bush brandishes America’s alpha male status saying the country goes “hard in da…paint.” He also offers a preemptive warning to Sadam Hussein growling “leave you stankin *****.” The last line of the introductory triplet then must be read as America’s response to President Bush’s invasion of a country without proper evidence, or as the Flocka Flame so ingeniously puts it “What da fuck you thankin *****?”
But although important, the Iraq war is not the only problem the maestro examines. In stanza three, he brilliantly scrutinizes the health care problem with which our country is currently faced. The first two lines in the quatrain are told from the point of view of an aristocrat. “Gotta main bitch (and) got a mistress/ A coupla girlfriends, I’m so hood rich” (Flocka Flame 3). Flame implicitly comments on upper class morality by discussing the aristocrat’s infidelity. In short, he is questioning, “such citizens possess health care, but what have they really done to deserve it?” He then goes on to say, “Keep my dick hard and keep me smoking/ You get pills free, shawty no joking” (Flocka Flame 3). The third line obviously refers to the absurdity that in a world where even minute issues of vanity such as erectile dysfunction are cured by pills such as Viagra, one of lower income status can still not have their basic health needs satisfied. However, he eventually solves his plight in the “you get pills free, shawty no joking” line which is in itself a succinct argument for universal health care, possibly from the point of view of American President Barack Obama.
He pays homage to experimental poets with the lines “Wassup prissy *****, wassup fuck *****/ I got on dat *****, make yo momma’s momma miss ya” (Flocka Flame 8). This is an obvious commentary on race relations in the United States calling out the “prissy,” the “fuck,” and the “dat” urban sub categories. He also wants to show how far the country has come in terms of race relations with a mention of “yo momma’s momma” (ie grandmother). A woman who probably was around during the Civil Rights Movement and is able to elaborate first hand on the progress that was made.
Finally, Waka Flocka Flame transcends reality altogether with his haunting analysis of reality itself, the fabric of existence. The tenth verse is an obvious dialogue between a dying man and death himself, the dying man reluctantly trying to avoid the inevitable. The dying man says “Glock 9 to SK if you want to beef,” an apparent provocation of death, superficially a harsh challenge, it is actually a defense mechanism of a scared and confused soul. Death then responds, “Shawty point blank range, I put yo ass to sleep/ Shawty talk is cheap, so watch what ya say.” Here death is making the point that he and God himself have final control over human life. “I put yo ass to sleep” is a strong declaration of fact. It is indicative of the grimness and finality of death, a statement void of ambiguity. By calling talk “cheap” he also advises the dying man to accept the prospect of dying, that death happens to every living creature and that the best way to ease its onset is to make peace with those still alive (Flocka Flame 10).
The last line of that metaphysical portion is “Broad day in the air, like this shit legal.” The average reader may question where this verse stands in the broader context of the stanza. They may whine it doesn’t “rhyme” or “make sense.” Instead of a weakness on Flame’s part, it is rather more commentary embedded in the structure of the stanza itself. Just like the line doesn’t make sense within the context of the stanza, neither does death and suffering, Flocka Flame argues, make sense in the context of a long and often beautiful life.
Waka Flocka Flame is a man of mystery. He is controversial and dense, an artist and a scholar. He makes allusions to both Yeats and Yeezy, while never losing his grounding in the here and now. He is a true poet, a wordsmith as best they make them. If you have trouble following his infinitely multifarious raps, you’re probably better off sticking with your infantile Milton and Shakespeare.
Flocka Flame, Waka. “Hard in Da Paint.” Flockavelli. 1017 Brick Squad, Warner Bros., Asylum, 2010.