Kanye West has called himself “a god” and the greatest rock star alive, so clearly he thinks highly of himself. Last month, on Feb. 23, he premiered a new song in which he compares himself to yet another all-time great, referring to himself as “this generation’s closest thing to Einstein.”
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But Yeezy isn’t the only MC who’s celebrated the German theoretical physicist behind the general theory of relativity. No, he’s only the latest in a long line of rappers who’ve used Albert Einstein to celebrate themselves, brilliance, and sex. In honor of AE’s born day, we take a look back at how rappers have used Einstein in their rhymes.
1. “Me to hip-hop, is like Einstein to science/ A match made in heaven, most likely an alliance.”– GZA, “7 Pounds”
This reference should not come as a surprise. After all, Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA is also known as The Genius. “7 Pounds” is a cut off the MC’s 2008 LP Pro Tools. It’s mostly a head-knocking soul-sampling song about how great he is and how wack his opponents are.
2. “Now step into my mind/ as I calculate lyrics like Einstein/ The way he manipulated numbers, I manipulate the rhymes/ Like E equals MC squared/ nah, E equals eater of MCs, beware.” – Logic, “XXL 2013 Freshmen Cypher” & “War Vet (Rack City Remix)”
Logic’s version of Einstein’s famous formula is all about eating MCs, which is a term that some rappers use to say they’re destroying cats. The T.I.T.S. rapper spit this during the “XXL Freshmen Cypher” in 2013 and also during his remix of Tyga’s “Rack City,” which means he must really like Albert.
3. “Like a scientist/ when I’m applying this/ Method of controlling my mind/ Like Einstein/ and the Rappin’ Duke combined.” -Mike D, “Ch-Check It Out”
By combining Einstein with the Rappin’ Duke, a 1989 Shawn Brown character who rhymed as John Wayne, Mike D delivered quite a combo with “Ch-Check It Out.” It’s worth it to enjoy the Rappin’ Duke, if only to cringe at how poorly the parody has aged. Though perhaps in ‘89, that was fresh.
4. “Walking a thin line from thinking like Einstein and rhyming like Rakim in ’89.” – Kendrick Lamar, “Dumb It Down”
This is a much more modern combo (though still old school, for some). By doing this, K. Dot was asserting his rap excellence, since 1989 Rakim is arguably one of the greatest rappers of all time. In ‘89, The R. and Eric B. unleashed Follow the Leader, an effort that featured classics like “Microphone Fiend,” “Follow the Leader,” and the B-Boy favorite “Lyrics of Fury.”
5. “One of a kind/ blow yo’ mind just like Einstein.” — Snoop Dogg, “Pain No More”
Snoop Dogg (also known as Snoop Lion and Tha Doggfather) and E-40 (also known as 40 Water and 40 Fonzarelli) are essentially rap’s Einsteins of slang and nicknames, so it makes sense that their collaboration features an AE reference. In this case, Mr. Doggystyle makes the reference and you almost have to envision Einstein-izzle smiling at that.
6. “Now ain’t nobody fuckin’ wit the mastermind/ I’m like Einstein, a hundred and fifty times magnified.” – Canibus, “Chaos”
Canibus, mostly known for his battle with LL Cool J and pulling out a notebook during a King of the Dot bout with Dizaster, was supposed to be one of rap’s Einsteins, for sure. Some fans even thought he was one of the genre’s best lyricists at one point. At that time, and even after, he made a bunch of astounding claims like this one. After all, he once said he was a “nuclear warhead.” Needless to say, those claims didn’t exactly hold up too well.
7. “Grind harder than I did in the past/ Mind like Einstein, I’m the shit in the lab.” – Freeway, “Always N Forever”
Freeway referenced Einstein here and took it a step further by playing with “the lab,” which could be a laboratory or a studio. Nice work, Free. But, the whole thing is actually funny if you picture Einstein coming up with great things in his old school lab and then bragging to his friends about how he’s “the shit in the lab,” which he most likely was.
8. “We stay high like Einstein’s IQ.” – Mac Miller, “Pen Game”
Einstein’s IQ is said to have been 160. Recently, a 4-year-old genius learned that he actually had the same IQ score as AE, according to the New York Daily News. He’s in good company, obviously, because you know who else had the same score? Only Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking.
Also, good to note that Mac Miller has sobered up since he wrote “Pen Game.” Last year, he told Billboard that he was mostly sober. “I still smoke cigarettes,” he said. “I’m not completely sober, but I’m way better than I was at that point. I was afraid of what my life had become.”
9. “The Einstein, meaning gifted/ too slick to get with/ Two years ago, my shit was broke, but now I fixed it/ with the quickness.” -Tech N9ne, “Einstein”
Einstein was indeed gifted and in many ways, Tech N9ne is too. Despite being an underground artist with little mainstream recognition in recent years, the Kansas City MC was No. 17 on Forbes’ Cash Kings list just last year. He was also No. 16 the year prior.
10. “Sometimes I rhyme like I’m inside Einstein’s mind.” – B.o.B., “Beast Mode”
B.o.B might be smart, but a lot of people have been dismissive of the Georgia rapper’s intellect this year. He was clowned for saying that the world is flat despite scientific evidence to the contrary, and he even got into a war of words with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson went on The Nightly Show and dropped the mic on him, just to prove his point, that the world is not flat. Wonder how Einstein would feel about B.o.B.
11. “I’m no activist, I’m no Einstein.” – Kendrick Lamar, “Fuck Your Ethnicity”
Kendrick might say he’s not an activist, but many would disagree. Last year, his song “Alright” off To Pimp a Butterfly became a protest anthem. Its chorus — “We gon’ be alright” — became a rallying cry for many protesters who were battling against brutality from law enforcement.
12. “In due time I’m the modern day Albert Einstein.” – Kendrick Lamar, “Phone Home”
Kendrick said he was not an Einstein in the last quote, but here, he compares himself to the modern version of Albert. That’s appropriate since K. Dot’s musical genius has been celebrated. This year, he earned himself five Grammys, upping his total to six. The critical praise followed To Pimp a Butterfly and has carried into the Compton rapper’s new project, untitled unmastered.
13. “I’m black with thoughts of Einstein/ One word describing him, genius.” – Kendrick Lamar, “Compton Life”
Since this is a third K. Dot entry, the most on this list, it might be safe to say that Kendrick’s an Einstein fan.
14. “Rhymes so rough, it’s like a course in trigonometry/ When Einstein was talkin’, he was talkin ‘bout me.” – LL Cool J, “Clap Your Hands”
Albert Einstein died on Apr. 18, 1955. LL Cool J released Walking with a Panther — which included “Clap Your Hands” — in 1989. So, it’s hard to imagine that AE was in fact talking about Ladies Love without the possibility of time travel. In any case, it’s a strong boast from one of the genre’s most celebrated MCs and one of the best Grammy hosts in recent years.
15. “I catch wreck with the Einstein’s intellect.” – Prodigy, “Me and My Crew”
As you can tell by now, rappers love using Einstein as a symbol for intelligence. Here, Mobb Deep’s Prodigy does the same. It’s a dope braggadocio rhyme, and not nearly as violent as some of his others, like that time he said he would “punch you in the face” in order to “stab your brain with your nose bone.”
16. “But just imagine if Einstein got high and sipped juice/ Broke rules, got pussy, beat up rookies on Pro Tools.” – Ab-Soul, “Track Two”
If Albert Einstein really did all those things, he’d be Al-Soul. At least that’s the premise Soulo’s going for here on “Track Two,” which is cleverly titled since it is, in fact, the second song on Control System. On a different track, “Real Thinkers,” Soul gave love to Einstein again. “I’m just searching for the perfect concept,” he said. “I swear I’ll be the Einstein of my time.”
17. “It’s grind time/ Imagination better than knowledge, ask Einstein/ It’s all in the mind.” – Nas, “Reach Out”
Nas is right. Sure, we can’t actually go, “Ayo, Einstein, you really think imagination’s better than knowledge?” But, there’s a famous quote that’s often attributed to AE. “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” he reportedly said. “For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
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