Thursday, September 07, 2006

Missy Elliott on Cryptography?

Today's xkcd comic combines cryptography and rap music.

It turns out the thinly disguised lyrics are from the chorus of the Missy Elliott song "Work it". Sorry I am not out scouring the urban format stations for musical hits, I had to look this one up on Google. There are a number commenters (one and two) on the joke and how they "got it", yet they failed to identify the particular song for the rap impaired. Here are the lyrics from the chorus of "Work it", provided as a service to the internet.
Is it worth it, let me work it
I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it
("I put my thing down, flip and reverse it" - [backwards 2X])
If you got a big [elephant], let me search ya
To find out how hard I gotta work ya
("I put my thing down, flip and reverse it" - [backwards 2X])
Has anybidy heard this song on the radio? Hoave I heard it and didn't realize it's relevance to cryptography. What exactly is being flipped and reversed?

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1 comment:

NotPhil said...

I don't generally listen to hip-hop, but the song is pretty popular in dance clubs, and I've heard "Work It" often enough to be surprised that two lines in the chorus are, as you point out, unintelligible until they're deciphered. I had never noticed this before, but, then again, I'm used to not being able to understand all of the lyrics in a pop song anyhow.

I think it's "cryptographic" only in the sense that the message in the chorus is hidden until you play it backwards. Of course, the message was given in "plain text" before it was "encrypted," so the idea couldn't have been to hide the meaning. It looks like it's just an elaborate play on words, along the lines of a chiasmus or something similar. I've always interpreted the "flipping" and "reversing" in the song as dance moves, but now it looks like it also refers to the lyrics themselves being "reversed." Cute.