Rhetoric and Rhyme: On Rap

Daniel Levin Becker at The Paris Review:

With apologies to Tolstoy, all perfect rhymes are alike, each imperfect rhyme imperfect in its own way. Perfect rhyme tells us about a relationship between words that never changes; that scoring with boring is a rhyme you can find in a dictionary is useful but also, not to put too fine a point on it, boring. But rhyming family with body—that’s interesting. How does she do it? Why does she do it? Imperfect rhyme—slant rhyme, off-rhyme, near-rhyme, half-rhyme, lazy rhyme, deferred rhyme, overzealous compound rhyme, corrugated rhyme, what have you—illuminates something about the person creating it, about their ear and their mind and what they’re willing to bend for the sake of sound. It tells us what they believe they can get away with through sheer force of will, like how Fabolous rhymes Beamer Benz or Bentley with team be spending centuries and penis evidently just because he knows he can.

more here.