Jay Z’s Similes

This graph visualizes Jay-Z’s use of similes across 12 albums. In addition to “like” similes, the chart also includes similes that use “as” and “than.” When you select one of the boxes, the corresponding similes for that song will also be highlighted: “like” similes in orange, “as” similes in blue, and “than” similes in red.

Jay-Z uses “like” similes more than 500 times in his songs. The variety of concepts that he references using similes contributes to the lyrical depth and his ability to connect seemingly unrelated topics on his first album. On Reasonable Doubt, he uses similes most often to make comparisons between luxury items (“You niggas know the time like Movado”), drugs (“you’re copping me like white crystal”), and spirituality (“meditated like a Buddhist”).

Jay-Z uses the most similes on the song “Cashmere Thoughts” on his album Reasonable Doubt. He uses the word  “like” 13 times to create similes with six of those similes referring to luxury items. On his 1996 song “Dead Presidents II,” Jay Z boasts that his money “accumulates like snow.” On his 2003 song “Public Service Announcement,” he raps, “I check cheddar like a food inspector,” and on his 2009 song “Empire State of Mind,” he raps, “Catch me in the kitchen, like a Simmons whippin' pastry.”

Overall, the similes offer evidence of a clever, then-emergent lyricist capable of connecting his coming-of-age experiences in Marcy Projects to the rest of the world.

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