Droppin' Science: 5 Rap Songs That Don't Make the Grade

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Googling "bad rap lyrics" returns a flood of flawed rhymes that could take all day to comb through (my favorite was penned by Mase: "Young, black and famous / with money hangin' out the anus"), but one thing I realized while reading, that I hadn't quite gleaned from years of listening, was how often rappers use basic math and science concepts in their lyrics. Perhaps reflecting the current state of American math and science aptitude, rappers don't always get it right -- and sometimes get it very wrong. Here are six of our favorite flubs (thanks to Henry Adaso, among other sources).

1. Math: Redman, "Five Boroughs"

My paragraph alone is worth five mics (uh-huh)
A twelve song LP, that's thirty-six mics (uh-huh)

Unless Redman uses less than a paragraph of lyrics per song, I think he's a few mics short of an LP.

2. Physics: Canibus, "Funkmaster Flex Freestyle"

I can double my density from three-sixty degrees to seven-twenty instantly.

While 360 times 2 is indeed 720, Canibus needs a little help when it comes to measuring units of density. Rather than "degrees," acceptable terms would've included kilograms per cubic metre (kg/m³), grams per millilitre (g/mL) or pounds per U.S. bushel (lb/bu) -- for all you farmers out there.

3. Chronology: Master P, "Do You Know"

If you don't bring back my m****f*****n money
or my m***f****n dope
you can forget about Christmas n***a
cause you ain't gon' even see New Years.

Hey, now that you've mastered P, maybe it's time to master G -- the Gregorian calendar. 'Cause I'm pretty sure Christmas comes before New Years.

4. Astronomy / Astrology: Kanye West, "Gettin' It In"

Don't try to treat me like I AIN'T FAMOUS
My apologies, are you into astrology Cause I'm,
I'm tryin to make it to Uranus.

Kudos to Kanye on this point: though not as widely referenced as some of the larger, closer planets, the position of Uranus in the Heavans actually is used in modern astrology. However, its influence is considered secondary to Saturn's -- they co-rule Aquarius -- and if you know anything about Aquarians (I'm one of 'em), you'd know that members of this water sign are relatively passive and chilled-out; the last thing they'd do is try to rile Kanye, or for that matter let him into their, you know, Uranus. (Nice try, West.)

5. Physics: Lil' Fame, "Half and Half"

First family will gradually lift that a*s up like gravity.

Rather than a snarky comeback, I've prepared a rhyme in response:

Yo Fame, what goes up must come down
Not the otha way 'round
Getcha facts straight son
Floss online, 'cuz books weigh a ton.

BONUS MATH PROBLEM: Foxy Brown, "Affirmative Action"

Thirty-two grams raw, chop it in half, get sixteen
Double it times three, we got forty-eight, which mean
A whole lot of cream, divide the profit by four,
Subtract it by eight, we back to sixteen.

Actually, there's nothing wrong with the math here -- in fact, what Foxy Brown has constructed for us is a little word problem. For big bonus points (and major street cred), who can tell us what Foxy's gross coke income is, using grams rather than dollars as a unit of measure? (I'll swing by later and post the correct answer in the comments.)

May 9, 2008 - 8:01am
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