Music Appreciation: Imagery (Teacher Model): Period 6 ILA

It was 1986 and I was in seventh grade when this song came out:

This was one of the Beastie Boys’ first singles (after “Fight for Your Right to Party” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”) and many people thought they’d be, like a lot of 80s bands, a One Hit Wonder of sorts. But, for the next 20 years, they created interesting music and today are considered hip-hop pioneers. Almost exactly four years ago, one of the band’s members, Adam Yauch (a.k.a. MCA), died, at the age of 47, after battling cancer.

I remember driving to grad school on a Saturday morning, hearing the news, and was saddened to hear that MCA died, since I’d been listening to their music for a long time; I distinctly remember someone playing their first album at the first party I went to in seventh grade and, just last summer, added one of their songs to my summer playlist. Five years ago, I bought their last album, “Hot Sauce Committee.” So, that’s about 30 years.

Something I’ve always liked about the Beastie Boys has been their lyrics, which are rich in imagery and figurative language. So, to honor MCA (even if you didn’t know about him or the Beastie Boys), and to kick off our Music Appreciation unit, your first assignment is to post a video of a song that includes imagery/figurative language (simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, allusion, etc.). And, below the video you need to post the exact line, at what time in the video you can find it, and an explanation of the use of the imagery, like this:

“Intergalactic,” by The Beastie Boys

Hyperbole, Simile and Allusion (3:22): “If you try to knock me you’ll get mocked / I’ll stir fry you in my wok / Your knees’ll start shaking and your fingers pop / Like a pinch on the neck of Mr. Spock”

Explanation: This, like a lot of lines in rap and hip-hop, is a boast. The speaker is saying, basically, don’t mess with him; he can’t literally stir-fry him in a wok, but if someone does “knock” him, he’ll respond in a manner that would feel similar, I guess. So that’s a complete exaggeration, or hyperbole. It’s also a simile, comparing how someone will feel if they “knock” him to how they would feel if they were pinched by Mr. Spock, of Star Trek. And since they make this comparison using the words “like” or “as” (“like,” in this case), it is a simile. And because they make reference to Mr. Spock without going into all the details of his famous Vulcan death-grip, it is an allusion as well.

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About rcjockers

I am a middle-school language arts teacher in Connecticut. I like eating hot peppers from my garden, writing, and watching German soccer matches in the dark.

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