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I whip my sword out like Uma in Kill Bill

Uma Thurman as The Bride in Kill Bill

Image: luvi via flickr

  • Track: Be Still
  • Artist: Lizzo
  • Album: Lizzobangers
  • Year: 2013

First things first: big thanks to Sugarfunk, whoever you may be, for suggesting a track this month. Cool name. I always appreciate a bit of interaction with readers, mostly because it reminds me that they do exist. Sugarfunk made a very solid shout: Wu-Tang Clan’s Da Mystery of Chessboxin’. It’s got more similes than the Killa Beez has members.

But there’s one problem. The first track to go under my similescope was the Wu-Tang’s Protect Ya Neck. While I intend to catalogue every hip-hop track ever, I’ve only done 35 so far. I think it’s a little early to repeat artists. Fear not, Sugarfunk, this track’s time will come. Give me another thirty years or so. In the meantime, if you’ve got any other simile-stuffed tracks you want me to take a look at you know what to do.

Anyway, let’s move on to this outing’s offering. It’s the turn of Lizzo, who I’ve only recently discovered. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m so behind the curve I’m practically on a different graph. Reader-submitted tracks are a pretty rare thing around these parts, as are (I’m ashamed to say) female artists. Lizzo will become only the 7th female IHHSDB inductee. That’s a little over 10%. Representative of hip-hop? I’m not sure, but I could probably do better.

For those of you other behind the curvers, Lizzo rocks. Hard. Her lyrics and the things she raps about are in your face, provocative and often hilarious. Her wordplay is irresistible. And, famously, she’s also a classically-trained flautist. Yeah, Lizzo is awesome.

I’m still playing catch up with Lizzo’s back catalogue, and I’m not sure if this is her most simile-laden track. It’s from her 2013 debut album Lizzobangers (what a title). But I’ve picked it because the similes leapt out at me like Tim Westwood at a…actually, never mind that.

At a dainty 2 minutes and 13 seconds, this is the joint-shortest track (along with Beastie Boys’ Just a Test) I’ve looked at. So this won’t take long. That suits me: I’ve been stuck at home with Covid all week and have not been in the mood for much simile spotting.

The lyrics

View full annotated lyrics on genius.com

I wake up every morning feeling like slapping a nigga
Squeeze trigger, stay scheming then I realise I’m still dreaming

I can sympathise, Lizzo. This has been a long week for me too. She’s in abrasive form here, and throughout most of the track. I noticed a fair few of her tracks open with waking up in some way. It’s a Lizzotrope.

Oops, psych! Believing in Beliebers’ ability
Still scream for a nigga till they get nosebleeds
I be so scuffed up from kicking them rocks
And if you’re so tough come run up and get clocked
Tick tock tock tock
If you got them slippery socks
Yo I’mma give it all that I got
To make a nigga slide in the vault
Then bake a nigga dash in some salt
I bring a nigga home and pole vault
Then blame a nigga like it’s your fault

Your bad!

There’s some lovely verbal dexterity here. I really like Lizzo’s flow. This simile is a fairly dubious one, but I’m letting it in. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the use of ‘like’ to mean ‘similar to’ or to mean ‘as if’. And I’m not even sure it’s necessary. Is this technically always a simile? Beats me. If you don’t like it you can blame me like it’s someone else’s fault.

Oh and I changed the transcription from ‘believers’ to ‘Beliebers’ because I think that’s what she says. And I also think it’s funnier that way.

I never understood and I will never understand
The tolerance for ho-ishness that some of you people have
“ME?” You, yeah you
I’m talking to the middle man
Like how you’re content with giving someone else the upper hand
Walking round your cubicle, your tie with your coffee mug
Syphoning the hard earned work from the thugs and hustlers, cuz
Takin’ a chill pill before I whip my sword out like Uma in Kill Bill
Makin’ niggas gasp like Emmett Till
And I’mma keep on giving you the gospel like God’s will, Peace! Be Still

This is a terrific verse and shows off Lizzo’s depth, playfulness and provocative nature too. Good similes as well.

The story of Emmett Till should make you gasp. It’s grim reading. Till gives his name to a law that Joe Biden signed into law in March of this year. This neatly links up with a later simile. It’s pretty shocking to think it’s taken the best part of 70 years to make lynching a hate crime.

This is as close as Lizzo gets to a hook now, a little moment of reflection.

This is God’s will peace be still
This is God’s will peace be still
This is God’s will peace be still

Can I fall in love before the world ends?
Can my record get a few major spins? I’m saying
I don’t wanna think about tomorrow because I’m [still hustling]
Until then, I guess it’s just me, you, these food stamps and cravings
No raisins in the sun, just Funyuns and a Sunkist, we up in the club making it mist
Like I missed alcohol
[though I see it every night]
And that Tylenol I take everyday period like Midol

Woah, steady on. I’m going to need a moment to unpick the sudden flurry of similes here. Once I’ve looked up what Funyuns are (yuck). Is this first one here a simile? I’m not sure, I don’t get it to be honest. I’m giving Lizzo the benefit of the doubt: that making it mist is comparable to missing alcohol. I don’t have to understand a simile to accept it into the database.

The second one is far more straightforward. If it’s a run-on from the previous line, this is sort of a nested simile. Lizzo compares ‘making it mist’ (whatever that means) to missing alcohol and Tylenol, which is like Midol. I think anyway, I’m getting a bit lost here. One thing I am sure of is that Tylenol is a US brand of paracetamol, and Midol is an over-the-counter drug used to treat menstrual cramping.

Bye y’all, I’m moving on to other things by y’all
But not quite bilateral, more like three floors up and down the hall
Let the bygones be bygones, and try to keep the peace like Obama and Biden

Another simile double. And again, I have no idea what the first one means. Dear readers, if you can put me out of my misery please do so in the comments. When I’m clueless like this I tend to categorise a simile as ‘uncategorisable’. It’s like a doctor throwing their hands up and admitting they don’t know what that unsightly thing on your genitalia is.

But hey, at least the second one makes sense. So much so that I don’t even need to explain it. Result.
That just leaves the little outro thing.

All my friends are talented, all my friends got mad skills
All my girlfriends wear heels, all my niggas drug deal
We’re tight, we’re tight, we’re tight, psych!

All my friends are talented, all my friends got mad skills
All my girlfriends wear heels, all my niggas drug deal
We’re tight, we’re tight, we’re tight, psych!

Watch me wreck the mic, psych! This has been a weird post. I’ve not done much analysis, it’s not funny and contains very little insight. I’m blaming Covid. And being quite lazy.

Just the nine similes all told, including those two dubious ones. But it’s such a short track it puts Lizzo relatively high up the similes per minute leaderboard.

To balance things out, next time out I’ll try to find a really long track. Like this 87 minute long ditty. Shame my German is a bit rusty.

The stats

Similes:9
Words:388
Words per simile:43.11
Length:2m13s
Similes per minute:4.06
IHHSDB inductees who are also classically trained flautists:1

Leave a comment. Bonus points for similes.