Thats That, an Ode to Lyricism

This song, “That’s That“, by veteran rapper MF Doom, serves a different purpose than most songs and poems we study in this class. Instead of focusing on one central theme throughout the song, this song is more of a showcase to the writing and performing abilities of MF Doom. This song is from the album “Born Like This”, which came after he took a multiple year hiatus from creating and releasing music. This is likely why this song is more about showcasing his skilful writing than a single general theme, as he was proving to fans and critics that he has just as much writing talent as ever. Figurative language, allusion, and a complex and constantly changing rhyme scheme are present throughout the song, and add to the deep personal allegories that he shares. Each aspect makes the others more impressive, as he so creativly and seemingly effortlessly connects completley differnet observations, ideas, refrences, and stories.

It is worthwhile to examine some of the refrences Doom makes to politics, life, and other forms of media as they are always related to a theme that is discussed in the song. I do not need to include more than a single line from the song in order to fully examine and delve into his writing skills, as each line has so many different refrences and examples of poetic devices that it would take pages to explain. Doom explains the background of his parents using the line, “Mama was a ho hopper, papa was a Rolling Stone star like Obama”, the first part of the line about his mother mostly exists to compliment the deep connection he makes about his father, or to reflect his mother’s attitude towards his father or men in general. Obama has appeared on many Rolling Stone covers, and calling his own father a ‘Rolling Stone Star’, is likely a refrence to his father’s rock star like behavior. Obama’s father had abandoned him and his mother at a young age, much like the behavior of Doom’s father, whom he describes in other songs in a negative light as he abandoned him and his mother.

Doom criticizes artists ether inferior to them in music/rap, or those who he believes are following the masses. The beginning of the song not only disrespects other artists and the state of the hip hop game, but makes a point about various political and social problems that exist today. Doom compares less succesful artists in rap who follow trends to political figures. He criticizes artists who believe that violence, drugs, and otherwise criminal behaviors are necessary in order to make hip hop music or be a part of the culture. He also criticizes those who enlist in the military as an alternative to prison, and compares them to figures in politics who are weak on their opinions, and simply flip to whatever side is the most profitable. This theme is echoed throughout the poem, but there is one line that I believe is a commentary on both of these topics, “Cornish hens, switching positions, auditioning morticians-
Saw it in a vision, ignoring prison-Ignoramuses enlist and sound dumb”. This line uses “cornish hens”, which are a type of hen that are raised to be slaughtered, and are mass produced and packed together, to compare them to the actions of these groups. “Switching positions, auditioning morticians”, is likely about our political leaders, who are seemingly switching positions to whatever side is the most popular, and are willing to audition/pay those to do their dirty work. Since Doom is not on the side of war, he disrespects those are enlist to get out of prison. Not only does he believe their actions were sadly inspired by a music culture that promotes drugs and violence, but they are also still just as captive as soldiers, risking their lives for the government, as they are prisoners.

Doom wraps up the song with a hook that proves this song is truly a testament to his lyrical skills. This time singing, “Can it be I stayed away too long?-Did you miss these rhymes when I was gone?-As you listen to these crazy tracks-Check them stats then you know where I’m at”. In my eyes, and likely the eyes of any hip hop fan or literature buff. Doom is a lyrical mastermind, and this song perfectly showcases this in so many ways. The hook wraps the song up with a steady decline from the fast paced, rhyme heavy, and deeply meaningful bars that came previously. This is a refrence to his hiatus from making music, and the fact that this song showcases his abilities so well, and parodies a Jackson 5 song titled, “I Wanna Be Where You Are

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