Billy Woods’s Literary Intertexts

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-2931.10.11

Keywords:

Billy Woods, Daniil Kharms, Flannery O’Connor, rap structure, the absurd

Abstract

While—like all artistic forms—it allows for deviation from this standard rule, rap is heavily reliant on building blocks of sixteen bars and a refrain. In addition, rhyme plays a prominent role in structuring rap, which is why the form is also colloquially referred to as “rhyming.” In view of this, Billy Woods’s record Today, I Wrote Nothing was a considerable departure from the existing rap norm. On the record, Woods stylistically adapted a collection of works by Russian absurdist writer Daniil Kharms, which was also called Today, I Wrote Nothing. Kharms was known for writing short prose without any formal structure. Most of his stories deal with absurd situations and slapstick humour. The structure of the fragmented fiction is adapted into rap on Woods’s record. The long rap verses are replaced by short songs without any specific narrative. The record maintains the non-structure of Kharms’s writing, as well as its absurdity, but it abandons any semblance of traditional rap. The second important stylistic and structural choice made in Woods’s record was the integration of aspects of Flannery O’Connor’s writing, particularly its humour and darkness. The article will focus on how Billy Woods integrates intertextuality into his lyrics to give the songs additional layers of meaning.

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Author Biography

Jožef Kolarič, University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava

Jožef Kolarič holds a Master’s degree in Intercultural German and English studies. Currently, he is an internal PhD student in German Studies at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava in Slovakia. His research focusses on language change in rap and rap writing. For his Master’s thesis, “Intertextuality in Billy Woods’s Lyrics,” he received the Miklošič award for best thesis in 2017. He has published articles in the Inquis journal in Turkey and the XA Proceedings in Croatia, and is currently working on his first monograph, which is due to come out in the near future.

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Published

2020-11-24

How to Cite

Kolarič, J. (2020). Billy Woods’s Literary Intertexts. Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, (10), 182-193. https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-2931.10.11