KING LEAR: A Hip-Hopera (Act I, Scene I)

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writingShakespearemusicWorkByCJArellanoPublished January 7, 2022, 7:38 PM

I once wrote a heist screenplay in which the characters - as part of an elaborate ruse, of course - perform a hip-hopera version of King Lear. I've long toyed with the idea of developing this musical-within-a-movie into a bona fide project in its own right. Until then, here's the opening scene. Enjoy!

I'm the top motherfuckin' dog on my block
Rule with an iron fist and an iron Glock
Over all of Great Britain, my millions flock  
I'm reaching old age; almost off the clock
Throwin' in the towel
Before me, Regan, Goneril
And Cordelia; all them honorable
Three shorties of the finest seed
The finest breed
In my hand, I hold the deed
To the land I should divide
And who should claim the largest side?
I'll use who loves me greatest as my guide
Goneril, the eldest, you begin
And say how much you love me, it's a sin

Sir, I love you more than my flow say
Throw sight and space and liberty away
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare
The Cuts, the Cads, the Beamers, I don't care
I'll starve when you die
You're the gleam in my eye
So handing me the biggest third is only fair 

What shall Cordelia do?
Love and be silent and true

Girl, you know how to please your dad
Here's what I give you; let that be that:
From this line to this, I bestow my 'hood
For you and Albany; son, treat her good
And now onto Regan, Shorty Number Two
Wifey to Cornwall; now, what sayeth you?

I'm made of dear Goneril's self-same spit
So prize me at her worth; or even over it
I find she names my very deed of love
But she comes too short; see, I go above
Father, I'm an enemy to all other joys
Fuck the whips, the chains, the flimsy ass toys
Fuck my boys, my bitches, and anybody's crew
The entirety of my love's for you

What shall Cordelia do?
Love and be silent and true

To thee and thine hereditary ever
May you prosper with this ample third forever
No less in space, validity, pleasure
Than your sister's; now onto my finest treasure
Shorty Number Three, Cordelia’s time
She’ll dust these girls, she’ll murder their rhymes
Don't keep me waiting; what say you? Speak.

Nothing, my lord. I've nothing you seek.


Nothing, I've nothing then.

Nothing yields nothing; speak again.

Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart to my mouth; so please believe
That I know you've been nothing but good to me
And I know that I seem like I shouldn't be
It seems that I'll never be Goneril or Regan
And just for the record; I know they're fakin'
But I can't give the whole of my love to you
If I say, then I'll know I ain't being true

Girl, I'm not sure that I'm feelin' you
Girl, are you high? The fuck’s wrong with you!

Please, I'm your daughter--

Well, not anymore
Please vacate your ass
Let it hit not the door
(to Regan and Goneril)
Forget what I said!
Let me make one amend!
I'll half my land up
One half per head!
As for Cordy here
I hope the pond turns red
And some punkass fisherman finds her dead
Kent, Gloucester, she's not worth an ounce
I'm through with you Cordy; homes, let's bounce

(King exits with entourage)

The sooner he's ill, the sooner he's dead

O sister, my sister, we must plan ahead

Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides
Who cover faults, at last shame them derides

(All exit.)