Teaching Tip: Multi-Syllable Rhymes

Eminem performing at the DJ hero party with D1...Image via Wikipedia

When people think of poets, they don’t often think of rappers, but Eminem gets a lot of attention for how he puts his words together. People who don’t even like rap, admire him for his skill.

I know what you are thinking

– Eminem in a Teaching Tip Tuesday post?

– Has Chase really lost it?

The answer is, “No!”

Eminem is a brilliant wordsmith and probably the best one the English language has ever seen. Many of our students listen to him and are quite familiar with his lyrics. We don’t need to play any of his songs in the classroom to illustrate our point either.

This lesson will energize our students and get them writing. They can listen to him when they go home and hopefully will do so with a new appreciation of his technique and style.

Here’s the lesson,

There are three types of rhymes,

Normal rhyme such as “cat / hat”
Multi rhyme such as my “cat / hi-hat”
and Longer Multi Rhyme such as “bit my cat / hit the hi-hat.”

Eminem rarely uses normal rhyme or multi rhyme. Instead he strings together complex syllables where each sound rhymes over and over again. He does this in a way that does not sound forced at all and has accomplished this from years and years of practice.

As a drill, Eminem breaks phrases down into syllables and then tries to find rhymes for each syllable. It doesn’t even have to make sense, this is a basic search for some complex rhymes. This is an example from his latest album, “Op-en-up-some-lanes / go-ing-through-grow-ing-pains / flow-ing-through-my-veins / go-ing-in-sane / diss-ing-Lil-Wayne.”

Here’s an example from Big Daddy Kane, “Ain’t no need for wondering who’s the man / Staying looking right always an exclusive brand

As you can see, this style of rhyming has been around in hip-hop for quite some time.

2Pac packed lots of mutli-syllable rhymes into his verses as well,

“do to me” – “community”
“concrete” – “wrong street”
“irrelevant” – “devil’s friend”

Classroom Activity 

Brainstorm some phrases with the class and write them on the board. Then choose one phrase and have each student write syllable rhymes for it. Stress that we are only looking for rhymes. Spelling and making sense doesn’t count. At the end of the time, compile all of our work into one Eminem style verse.

I tried this with my class last week. We chose the phrase “cold winter day” for this exercise.

1) First, we brainstormed word that rhymed with “cold”

cold

– old
– fold
– bold
– gold
– mold
– polled
– rolled

Then we brainstormed words that rhymed with “winter.”

winter

– sprinter
– printer
– spinster
– enter
– centre
– sinner
– winner
– Prime Minister
– sinister
– finger

As you can see, not all of our words were perfect rhymes. That is totally fine.

Lastly, we needed to list words that rhymed with “day.”

day

– bay
– say
– okay
– obey
– clay
– stay
– away
– tray
– pay
– Santa Fe

Then we tried to combine words from each list that made sense when put together. 

Cold Winter Day

– old spinsters pray
– gold winners play
– the old sinister man from the bay
– fold printer paper this way
– polled the Prime Minister today
– bold tornado lays destruction

One of my students is a bit obsessed with Hello Kitty. She brainstormed words that rhymed with that title and came up with this short poem,

Hello Kitty
wanted to go to Mellow City
so she hopped on a Yellow jet ski.

So Try it out! 

If you have any ideas, tips, or lessons you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, or you could even write a guest post for an upcoming edition of Teaching Tip Tuesday. Teachers helping teachers is what this is all about. 

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