Punchlines/wordplay should either awe you, disgust you or make you laugh. Not all have to make any logical sense, though. I found the following interesting. Which one was whack or not or left out, post in the comments. This list is not exhaustive. Due to time constraints, the songs or albums from which the lines are derived couldn’t be included. Maybe deliberately so, to provoke you research and buy the music from these skilled poets and emcees. All interpretations remain objective.
Naishi ka conmam, naogopa kushika Bible ju naeza con verse//
Nakam na ideologies za kulinda environment, sa sidungi Timber nadunga Converse//
Decode: “conman”, “con verse”, “environment”, “Timber” and “Converse”. Fill in the blanks.
Umejaza mistari kwa smartphone na bado zinasound stupid.
Decode: “smart” and “stupid”. With the influx of half-truths and (mis)information, is technology making us dumber?
Si kwa ubaya but only way unaeza bamba watu ni ukiacha rap ukue karao.
– Mr. Ree
Decode: “bamba” (to please/arrest/capture people’s attention) and “karao”. Can’t rock the crowd as an emcee, try cop business, boy!
Industry ni ka logo ya barclays ju iko in bad shape.
– Mr. Ree
Decode: “Barclays logo” and “bad shape”. Bad=bird secondary rhyme (in Swa/Sheng, phonetic syntax can be excused).
Kama odijo wa nursery wako ‘1+1’ nasi nyuma yao tunawa support ‘2’.
– Eko Dyda
Decode: Fans can be compared to nursery kids in a class that respond to an emcee’s (odijo/teacher) hype on stage.
...Nkaanza kujidrag ka msee anadu advert ya NACADA.
– Teddy K
Decode: “kujidrag” as in move clumsily but now flipped as “kujidrug” as in get high and “NACADA” the narcotics board.
Mi ni ka train imeoverturn yani na dunda kwa track.
– Mr Ree
Decode: “train”, “dunda” and “track”. Train of thought.
Wanasema siku hizi mi hu’rap alot ka karatasi za Uchumi.
– Kibera Slamdawg
Decode: “hu’rap” as in “hu-wrap”.
Feel hii ish kaa mkono ndani ya choo.
Decode: “feel sh*t” and “mkono ndani ya choo”. Yuck.
I spit from my heart I almost need no beat.
– Kayvo K Force
Decode: Heartbeat, passion, rawness.
Nitakufa millionare, sita die na soo, juu poverty ni extinct kwangu ka dinosaur.
Decode: “die na soo”, “poverty”, “extint” and “dinosaur”. Get rich or die rhyming.
Nilizaliwa light years ahead ndio maana niko stubborn.
Decode: “light years” and “stubborn” as in “star-born”. Cosmic references.
The only time ulimake doo ni ile siku ulichanganya unga ngano na maji.
– Mr Ree
Decode: “doo” as in “dough” and “unga ngano na making”. If you ain’t making cents, you ain’t making sense.
Dunia dancefloor, masaa yanakatika.
– Mtu Real
Decode: “dance floor” and “-katika” as in dance. Time is your greatest antithesis.
Nacom correct naweza kuwa logo ya Nike.
Decode: “correct” and “Nike logo”. Tick.
Nikiwa maji me huchemka no wonder future imeturn to vapour.
– MC Mutant
Decode: “maji”, “chemka” and “vapour”. Drugs and liquor wrecking the future.
Fame ina life fupi ka SMSes na episode za soap, nataka series, kitu ina siri kitu itafanya nidoze katikati, me si one minute man, nataka kuchukua time yangu kuwafinish, shoot blanks usinikumbushe Mr. Billy.
Decode: “fupi”, “SMSes”, “episode”. Complex internal rhyming. Sewer spits on the philosophy of time and meaning.
Me hukill beat mpaka producer aki’edit ngoma yangu anafeel ka yuko mortuary.
Decode: “-kill beat” and “mortuary”. Deadly metaphor. Bragadoccio.
Mi nika mara tatu ya Makaveli, niko na six pack.
– Virusi Mbaya
Decode: “Makaveli” and “six pack”. Simple math: 2PAC x 3 = 6PACs = 6 packs = muscle, muhfucka.
Nili’battle kapuka for seven days, nikaiwacha ikiwa weak.
– K 47
Decode: “seven days” and “weak” as in week. Basic homophone here.
Nyinyi mkitumia doom ku kill mosquitoes, mimi natumia modem kujificha ndani ya net.
– K 47
Decode: “doom”, “mosquitoes”, “modem” and “net”. Net as in mosquitoe net and internet. He is on the internet grind all day, using a modem as means. Clever word twist.
Sisi ni wale uki’cross, unajipata nail kwa msalaba.
Decode: “-cross”, “nail” and “msalaba”. Fuck with us, we crucify you. Jesus won’t save you.
Kaa ni beef leo minasosi mpaka sauce.
Decode: “beef” and “sauce”. Ain’t cowered by beef, I’ll go ham on that shit.
I make ends meet ka stapler.
– African Bantu
Decode: “ends meet” and “stapler”. Getting that paper.
Eti unataka beef? Okay mimi ni butcher, just say penye uko alafu tutalocate place tutameet.
Decode: “beef”, “butcher” and “-meet” as in meat. What’s beef? Beef is when you look twice before you cross the street.
Mashorty wananipenda lakini staki waniite LL COOL J, nataka waniite COOL J LL ’cause I’m a Cool Jang’o from Luo Land.
Decode: “LL COOL J” and “COOL J LL”. Flip that acronym, give it your own shine.
Niite P.O. juu naweka maemcees kwa box.
– Lord Shiri
Decode: “P.O.” and “box”. No-brainer. But “ma emcees” feels a tad out of context.
Unawezaje kuza morals kwa kichwa imejaa weed?
– Romi Swahili
Decode: “kuza” as in grow, “morals” and “weed”. I was gonna pay child support, then I got high. Despite the campaign on weed, its flip side cannot be ignored.
Kaa viti kwa church on Monday, vichwa zao empty.
Decode: “viti” as in seats, “church”, “Monday” and “empty. Knuckle heads. Perfectly depicts religion and logic.
Niko kwa booth ku’smoothen the rough edges//So food for thought iko na’push roughages.
Decode: “smoothen”, “rough edges”, “food for thought” and “roughages”. Take a minute to digest that.
Kaa wana’spit, si tunanyesha naeza ku’drown in my quotes//Nikuache uki’feel ni kaa uko nje ya Noah’s ark vile utakuwa una’float.
Decode: “-spit”, “-nyesha” as in rain, “-drown”, “Noah’s ark” and “-float”. To deep, leaves your brain wet.
Wakangoja my downfall, kumbe niliangukia ma’cushions.
– G Dash-
Decode: “downfall”, “angukia” as in land on and “-cushions”. My setback was my bounce back. Hi hater, we made it.
Life is a lane and I’m on a crash course.
– Kem Dee
Decode: “lane”, “crash course”. Maintainin’.
Only thing positive kwa society ni HIV.
Decode: “positive” and “HIV”. With so much drama in the society// Is hard to be a G.O.D//
Tuko so radioactive FM na telly zimetu’brainwash.
Decode: “radioactive”, “FM”, “telly” and “brainwash”. Radio and TV addiction: opium of the 21st century.
Fame is the shortest verse kwenye Hip-hop.
– MC Mtemi
Decode: “Fame”, “short”, “verse”. Here’s a little poem:
Fame is a bee.
It has a song—
It has a sting—
Ah, too, it has a wing.
- Emily Dickinson (1978)
Just because you did one take and nobody is buying// Don’t go around yapping how Hip-hop is dying//
– MC Mtemi
Decode: ‘One take’ could euphemistically refer to one song/album/video/show. It takes more than “one mic, one stage, one life” to get acknowledged.
Mi ndio mainstream, that’s why na’flow.
– MC Mike G
Decode: “-stream” and “-flow”. Mainstream doesn’t always mean whack. Words are water. Water theory.
Usikuwe na pressure kaa huskii kuhara.
– Kitu Sewer
Decode: “pressure” and “kuhara” as in diarrhoea. Breathe easy.
Usishangae ghetto midomo ziko “Jah Bless”// Juu mikono ziko job-less//
– G Dash
Decode: “ghetto”, “Jah Bless” and “jobless”. There is a reason why ghettos have more churches than schools. Quite philosophical rhyme. Reminds me of Immortal Tech’s Poverty of Philosophy.
Wamenifinyilia katikati ya sweater na T-shirt utadhani ati life yangu ni vest.
Decode: No sir, putting a vest between a T-shirt and sweater is a poor dressing choice. Never heard of it. The effort at imagination is admirable, though.
Niko homeless bila hood, nipate juu ya jumper.
Decode: “homeless”, “hood” as in /home/sweat shirt and “jumper”. Doesn’t really make much sense but you got respect the word flip.
Cold flow kaa snow cheki kalamu iki’ski.
– Mtu Real
Decode: “cold”, “snow”, “-ski”. Flow so icy, the pen is skiing through.
Hata cheki design amedunga//Heri ningemtupia visu badala ya lugha.
Decode: “amedunga” as in dressed but literally piercing/stabbing, “-tupia” as in throw, “visu” as in knives and “lugha” as in spit game at her. Shorty dressed to kill, turned out bad in the relationship a.k.a. relationshit, makes a brother’s heart bleed. Regrets galore.
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