Say what you will about Kanye West, the man knows his pop culture. Whether it's nods to movies ("Got super bad chicks givin' me McLovin") or music ("You know how long I been on ya?/Since Prince was on Apollonia..."), Kanye's lyrics contain some pretty clever pop culture riffs amongst all the braggadocio and Louis Vuitton plugs.
But Kanye reserves some of his best rhymes for the sitcoms of the '80s and '90s he grew up on. (Let's just say you need a working knowledge of 'Martin' characters to get some of these references.) Here are just a few of Kanye's many lyrical nods to the sitcoms of yesteryear.
"I mean, damn, what would Jerome-y Romey Romey Rome think..."
'Bound 2,' 'Yeezus'
After a particular vigorous lovemaking session, Kanye notes that he doesn't want to, uh, defile his lady's mink. He ponders what 'Martin' character and fur coat aficionado Jerome, aka "Romey Rome," would think about his actions. The segue from graphic sexual reference to obscure '90s pop culture reference is classic Kanye.
"Too many Urkels on your team, that's why your wins low..."
'Dark Fantasy,' 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'
A masterpiece in the admittedly small category of 'TGIF' references in hip hop lyrics, this line both name-drops 'Family Matters' uber-nerd Steve Urkel and makes a delightful pun off of the Winslow family name. What, no love for Waldo Faldo, Yeezy?
"I got my fur on feelin' like Jerome..."
'Illest Mother F**ker,' 'Watch the Throne'
Jerome in da house again. Seriously, Kanye and Martin Lawrence need to team up for a Jerome movie yesterday.
"I ain't one of the Cosbys, I ain't go to Hillman..."
'Can't Tell Me Nothin,'' 'Graduation'
Like us, Kanye is a big fan of the 'Cosby Show' spin-off 'A Different World.' Thus, the reference to Hillman, the fictional university that several members of the Huxtable family attended. We're still holding out for a Cockroach reference on the next album.
"Lock yourself in a room doing five beats a day for three summers/That's a different world like Cree Summer's"
'Spaceship,' 'The College Dropout'
More 'A Different World' fanfic, thanks to Kanye name-checking both the show's title and star Cree Summer, who played hippie dippie Hillman student Freddie.
"I'm pop, the Barkers/I'm hood, The Parkers..."
'The Glory,' 'Graduation'
And thus, the first (and only, at least as far as we know) reference to the 1999-2004 'Moesha' spin-off in hip-hop history.
"Like Martin with no Gina..."
'Flashing Lights,' 'Graduation'
In Kanye's chilled out ode to couplehood, our lovelorn hero says that being without his lady is "like Martin with no Gina." The only way Kanye could further cement his 'Martin' fandom is with a moving cover of 'Forever Sheneneh.'
"In two years Dwayne Wayne became the Dwyane Wade"
'The Glory,' 'Graduation'
In this line, Kanye uses 'A Different World's' resident geek Dwayne Wayne and basketball star Dwyane Wade to demonstrate his own transformation from nerd rap favorite to global superstar. He also benefits from the fact that their names sound conveniently alike.
"Couldn't keep it at home, I thought I needed a Nia Long..."
'Touch the Sky,' 'Late Registration'
While not a direct reference to her 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' character Lisa, Kanye namedropped actress Nia Long in 'Touch the Sky' and cast her in the video alongside fellow '90s/early '00s favorites Pamela Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross. (Kanye and Nia were rumored to have dated as well. What would Will think??)