The Canterbury Tales Remixed: Old English in Rap?

Today, I’m going to highlight the Canterbury Tales as presented in The Canterbury Tales Remixed.

Same disclaimer as last week: “Anyone even passingly interested in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Beowulf, or the Canterbury Tales might want to try this out, though be warned, it’s still rap. So expect cursing and explicitness from it. Not that the Canterbury Tales by themselves are short on either.”

Baba Brinkman tackles four different stories from the Canterbury Tales–those told by the Pardoner, the Nun’s Priest, the Merchant, and the Wife of Bath.

The Canterbury tales were written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century. Here’s the first few lines of the Prologue, in Middle English, to get the sense of the language back then:

“Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote

The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;”

The rest, along with some poems, can be found here. This is still considered readable, by the way, especially if you try pronouncing it out loud. And people complain about Shakespeare.

Even better, here’s some of the Middle English from the Canterbury Tales (Interlude A from this album; link here for those for whom the embedding doesn’t work). I can’t even say how happy it made me to hear him put the actual Middle English to rap.

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