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Rap Meanings


The Joker vs Pennywise Meanings

The Joker:

In my first appearance, the Bat was supposed to slay me,

(The Joker was actually meant to be killed in his appearance in Batman #1 comic because Bill Finger was concerned that recurring villains would make Batman look inept. Nevertheless, this was overruled by then-editor Whitney Ellsworth, so a hastily drawn panel, indicating that the Joker was still alive, was added to the comic. The Joker himself notes this to set up his next line.)

But I can't be killed. That's why they cast a Phoenix to play me! (He-he!)

(In keeping with the pattern set by his first unlikely survival as noted above, instances of the Joker truly dying are relatively very rare across all media featuring him. TV Tropes uses the term "Joker Immunity" to refer to villains who have similar tendencies to survive situations that would amount to death for most other characters based on their importance and popularity. Joker is also constantly "revived", even following cases where his character truly dies, in the sense of new adaptations always being made featuring new actors playing him. Joaquin Phoenix was cast to play Joker in another revival of the character in the 2019 Joker movie. The Phoenix is an immortal flaming bird originating from initially Egyptian and later Greek mythology which is consumed by its own flames upon "death" only to be reborn from its own ashes.)

I'm the Harlequin of Hate, the Clown Prince of Crime.

(The Joker uses two of his many nicknames from the comics both to introduce his fame and to lead into the next line.)

You're a sewer troll that Stephen King wrote between his lines!

(A lot of the interactions with Pennywise in the books were made in the sewers, somewhere where a troll would sometimes live in fairy tales. Stephen King has admitted that his struggled with cocaine addiction during the writing of some of his books, including It, hence some of the more bizarre scenes in the book. Steven King also mentions in an interview that the bridge troll from the childrens story 'The Billy Goats Gruff' was a major inspiration for the character Pennywise.)

(Ha-ha-ha-ha!) It's like cocaine, you know what I said.

(The Joker has a hatred of explaining jokes. He breaks character to lead into his next line.)

I don't know how any kind of joke could ever go over that head!

(For something to "go over the head" means that it fails to be understood for one reason or another. The Joker hence believes that Pennywise did not get his cocaine joke, having him explain it. The Skarsgård version of the character has a giant forehead, so Joker suggests that any joke would have difficulty going over Pennywise's head given its prominence.)

"They all float!" says the quote. But your films, they all sink.

("They float. They all float" is commonly said by Pennywise in the IT miniseries, as well as "You'll float too" and "We all float down here" also heard in the 2017 and 2019 adaptations. The Joker says that all It films 'sink' (or fail), juxtaposing the infamous quote.)

Oh, and as far as Mr. King goes, I'm a Shining man. Wink. (Ha-ha-ha-ha!)

(The Joker says that when it comes to books by Stephen King, he personally prefers The Shining, a book about a man named Jack Torrance who is driven insane by ghosts possessing a hotel, and then tries to kill his wife and son who are staying there. This is also a reference to how Jack Nicholson portrayed both the Joker in 1989's Batman and Torrance in Stanley Kubrick's 1980's film adaptation of The Shining.)

I make the Justice League look like just a bunch of super schlubs!

(In some of the media involving Joker being the antagonist to the Justice League, Joker's plan usually fools the superhero group and makes them fail or even turn them evil. The fact that the Joker was able to get away with this made them look like "super schlubs," a play on the terms superhero and supervillain, with "schlub" being a term for a talentless, unattractive, or unintelligent person.)

You lost to a herd of nerds who call themselves the Losers' Club!

(The Losers' Club is a group of kids who serve as the main protagonists of the IT franchise, and were the ones to defeat Pennywise. Joker is saying that Pennywise is weak enough to be defeated by children who are self aware that they're weak and pathetic, while Joker has taken down some of the world's strongest superheroes and supervillains.)

You'll be gobbled up in Gotham, so stick to your small town.

(The Joker mainly operates in the large city of Gotham City, which is known to be rather vicious and crime ridden, and is home to the cannibalistic, sewer-dwelling Killer Croc. Meanwhile Pennywise operates in the small town of Derry, Maine, and not as impressive to terrorize in comparison.)

Where you're renowned as the "if it's brown, flush it down" clown.

("If it's brown, flush it down" is a phrase used to determine the appropriate circumstances under which to flush a toilet (i.e. if there is poop in the toilet bowl). Pennywise was first introduced in the sewers, so the Joker is saying It will be treated like the sewage therein.)

Pennywise:

Hiya, Jokie! You wanna rap?

("Hiya, Georgie. You want a balloon?" is a famous opening line from Pennywise when it meets a young boy Georgie after his boat swam down a storm drain. Here, Pennywise is mimicking its own line, agreeing to rap against Joker.)

Rap, rap, rap, rap, rap, rap! (Ha-ha-ha-ha!)

(Continuing from the previous line, when it tries to get Georgie in the storm drain, it says that there is popcorn that makes popping sounds. Here, Pennywise is mimicking that moment, replacing the popping sound for the word "rap.")

Oh, why so serious? You're supposed to be the man who laughs,

("Why so serious?" is a famous quote said by Heath Ledger's Joker in the movie The Dark Knight. The Man Who Laughs is a 1928 film about a travelling performer with a disfigured smile, which the character of the Joker was mostly based on. This is also a reference to Batman: The Man Who Laughs, a story arc succeeding Batman: Year One about Batman's first encounter with the Joker.)

But those jokes were like your new movie: (aha!) mostly really sad.

(The 2019 movie Joker features the Joker prior to his transformation, living a somber life. Pennywise says that Joker's jokes are as upsetting to hear as his life in the movie is to watch.)

Beep beep! You're a John Doe in my deadlights, and you're about to fall from a new height

(In the novel and 1990 television film adaptation, "beep beep Richie" was a phrase frequently used by the Losers Club to silence Richie Tozier and used by Pennywise to threaten him. John Doe is a name given to an individual when the true name of a person is unknown, which is the case for the Joker in the comics; while it can be used for any person whose name is unknown, the term "John Doe" also has a strong association with unidentified decedents, making this line also imply that Pennywise will kill the Joker. Deadlights is the very life essence and the true form of Pennywise, through which it can blind its victims and rob them of their conscious minds as it drives them insane. Pennywise here makes a pun on the phrase "deer in headlights" by calling him "John Doe" as "doe" also refers to a female deer. The previous “beep beep” could also be a reference to a vehicle horn, as “deer in headlights” refers to when a deer freezes in front of an oncoming vehicle. "Fall from a new height" may be a reference to the most accepted backstory of the Joker, in which he falls from a catwalk into a tub of chemicals that severely alter his appearence. "John Doe" is also an alias used by the Joker in Batman: The Telltale Series video game.)

'Cause you're weak and you've lost every fight to a knight who wears underwear over his tights. (Ha-ha-ha!)

(Joker always loses fights to Batman, who's also known as the Dark Knight. Like many superheroes, Batman's costume makes it look like he's wearing underwear on the outside, so Pennywise is mocking Joker for getting himself defeated by a superhero with a ridiculous costume.)

I haunt nightmares and I'm ruthless!

(Pennywise says that not only does It mercilessly haunt people in their nightmares, but that It does it ruthlessly, with no pity for Its victims.)

This battle's like poker, the Joker is useless!

(In the card game of poker, the joker card is treated as a wild card which you can assign any value you wish to, including nothing. However, wild cards are not generally used in casino poker games or poker tournaments. Pennywise thus claims that the Joker is as useless in a rap battle as the joker card is in professional poker.)

Winning's not in your cards! Call me Arkham Asylum, I'm crazy with bars!

(Continuing from the previous poker line, Pennywise says Joker will not win the battle, just like how the joker card will not win games when it is excluded from the rest of the deck. Arkham Asylum is a fictional mental institution within the Batman universe. Pennywise says it is like the mental instinution because it is crazy (extraordinary/the asylum) with bars (rap bars/prison cell bars).)

Jack Nicholson played you just fine, but lately the casting's declined:

(Jack Nicholson played the Joker in the 1989 Batman movie. Pennywise is saying that compared to Nicholson's performance, more recent actors like Jared Leto, have failed to properly portray the Joker.)

Jared Leto came out trying to look like he was Tekashi 6ix9ine!

(Jared Leto portrayed the Joker in the 2016 movie Suicide Squad. His outfit included having a bare chest that exposed the tattoos all over his body and colorful hair, something that also resembles Hispanic rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine. The rapper is often mocked for doing outrageous things for attention, which is something that also can be related to Leto's portrayal of Joker. Leto's attempts at method acting for the role included playing sadistic pranks on fellow cast members, receiving backlash for his actions. Additionally, Tekashi 6ix9ine is well known for snitching on members of the Nine Trey Gangster Bloods gang, of which he was an associate.  As the Joker is a criminal, Pennywise comparing the two is essentially accusing him of being "soft" and willing to snitch on other criminals, a contrast from the tough supervillain image the Joker puts on in many of his appearances.)

So unless you've got a yummy younger brother, I think you'd better run

(Pennywise tells the Joker to leave, serving no purpose unless he can offer it a meal. Pennywise kills and consumes children as part of its killing spree, most notably murdering Bill Denbrough's younger brother, Georgie.)

'Cause I've got 99 red balloons, bitch, and I dare you to take one!

(Pennywise simultaneously references the songs "99 Luftballons" ("99 Red Balloons") by the German band Nena and "99 Problems" by rapper Jay-Z with its famous lyric "I've got 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one", daring Joker to take a balloon and submit. Pennywise uses illusions of balloons to disorient and frighten people, often filling them with blood.)

The Joker:

Go back in your well, you giggling sewer ginger.

(The Joker orders his opponent to go back from whence it came. "Ginger" is a slang term for both a person with red hair and a coward, and here the Joker accuses Pennywise of being both. Pennywise's lair is deep in the caverns beneath Derry, and can be accessed via a well or storm drain.)

You lost to a turtle that wasn't even a ninja.

(In the It novel, Pennywise's rival was a cosmic turtle named Maturin who would guide the Losers' Club into defeating Pennywise. The Joker notes that It wasn't even that big of a threat, referencing fellow comic characters, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who just like Pennywise live in the sewers.)

When I flow, I go Mark Ham with ill zingers.

(Mark Hamill is an actor who portrayed Joker in multiple voiceover roles, most notably the classic animated series and the "Arkham" video games. Also, the Joker used in the battle is vocally based on Hamill's performance. The Joker says he goes "H.A.M.", an acronym for "Hard As a Motherfucker" with his sick, twisted jokes. The Joker also makes a pun on his name with "I go Mark Ham with ill zingers". It can also be a reference to the character being "hammed up" by the actors who play him, especially Mark Hamill and Caesar Romero.)

I steal the show like Bob Kane stole from Bill Finger! (Ha-ha-ha!)

(Bob Kane and Bill Finger were the co-creators of Batman, however, Kane negotiated a contract with National Comics (the future DC Comics) that signed away ownership of the character in exchange for, among other compensations, a sole mandatory byline on all Batman comics (and adaptations thereof). Finger's name, in contrast, did not appear as an official credit on Batman stories or films until 2015.)

I spit acid, be wowed! Every joke of mine stings.

(The Joker has committed crimes with many comedic weapons including his famous acid-spewing flower that was always tucked into his lapel. The Joker says he spits acid when he raps, meaning his rhymes are just as dangerous as his flower. "Every joke of mine stings" is a reference to Joker's hand buzzer, which shocks people with electricity.)

You're three night lights in a cloud beat by the kid from Stranger Things.

(Pennywise's Deadlights form features three lights floating in the air. Joker mocks this appearance by calling them nightlights, which soothe children rather than scare them. In the 2017 IT film, the character of Richie Tozier, one of the children who defeats Pennywise, is portrayed by Finn Wolfhard. Wolfhard is best known for portraying Mike Wheeler in the Netflix series Stranger Things, a show which is inspired by many King works such as It.)

When I compare your antics to the fiendish schemes I revel in,

(The Joker goes on to compare his evilness with Pennywise's.)

They pale, like the moonlight you can dance with the devil in.

(One of the most well known lines of Jack Nicholson's Joker is "You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?". The Joker says Pennywise is no way near as evil as him. This might also be a reference to the IT miniseries where Pennywise appeared in a full moon to Henry Bowers, who used to bully the Losers Club and was in a mental institution after his first encounter with Pennywise. Additionally, Pennywise is also known as "Pennywise the Dancing Clown" and dances in a scene of the 2017 movie that reached a meme status on the internet.)

Pennywise:

Pennywise likes the devil, we have so much fun together,

(Pennywise calls Itself demonic, rebutting Joker's last line. This line may also be a reference to Pennywise's connection to The Crimson King—the main villain in King's novel The Dark Tower—who has been equated with Satan. This may also be a reference to the 1985 movie, Legend, specifically the antagonist, The Lord of Darkness, where the devil is played by Tim Curry, the same actor who portrayed Pennywise in the 1990 TV Miniseries.)

But no one's dying to play with Joker, except for maybe Heath Ledger!

(Heath Ledger portrayed Joker in the 2008 movie The Dark Knight. The actor infamously experienced a lot of mental problems trying to get into the role, ultimately dying from overdose. It is often said that Ledger died because of how committed he was in accurately portraying the insanity of the Joker, and therefore literally died to play him. It also might be a reference to Pennywise's quote "No one wants to play with the clown" in IT: Chapter 2.)

Puddin', you're an embarrassment, I'll beat you like you beat Harley Quinn.

("Puddin'" is the nickname given to Joker by his right hand woman and love interest, Harley Quinn. The relationship between Joker and Harley is often portrayed as abusive, with Joker showing little care towards Harley and beating her in some continuities.)

That purple suit is something you should only see Steve Harvey in!

(Joker is famous for wearing a bright purple suit. Steve Harvey is an entertainer who is similarly iconic for wearing expensive, colorful suits. Pennywise says the suit is silly for Joker and only suits comedian celebrities.)

Ah, haha! I feast on your fears!

(Pennywise preys upon the fear of children and uses it to power itself.)

I'm the Derry, Maine attraction every 27 years.

(The IT franchise primarily takes place in Derry, Maine, and Pennywise only appears every 27 years. Pennywise makes a play on the phrase Main attraction, by saying that whenever It appears, It's the main attraction of Derry, Maine.)

But you know what? I've got a secret. (Shh!) It's like a very special toy.

(Pennywise goes to tell a secret to the Joker.)

If you wanna kill a Batman, eat him when he's a boy.

(Due to the fact Pennywise preys upon and says children, It says the Joker should've just eaten Batman when he was younger if he wanted to defeat him.)

The Joker:

Don't you lay a finger on my Bat, you little freak!

(The Joker is often shown to have an obsession with Batman; in some continuities, Joker shows no intention to actually murder his rival because he "completes him". If Batman were to ever be defeated, Joker would want the honor and so he tells Pennywise to stay away from his arch-nemesis.)

Or I will spend a whole week knocking out those prickle teeth! (He-he-he!)

(Pennywise is able to open its mouth wide to reveal hundreds of jagged, rotting teeth. The Joker says he will spend his week knocking out each of Pennywise's teeth if it touches Batman.)

Tell your author for his next gangbang scene:

(In the novel, there is a scene where as children, the Losers' Club get lost in the sewers and decide to have an orgy. They find their way out after engaging in sexual intercourse. The scene was supposed to symbolise how the group was forced to mature as people to grow and leads into them being adults. However, the scene was met with a lot of obvious backlash and King said he regrets including it in the novel.)

How about a little more PG and a lot less 13?

(PG and PG-13 are ratings by the MPAA put on films. PG-13 movies are appropriate for young teenagers, while PG movies are appropriate for younger children. Joker says he would rather not have children engage in a sexual intercourse, especially since they are the age of 13.)

Even I wouldn't stoop to that kind of impropriety!

(Despite his horrendous actions in the past, Joker admits he wouldn't stoop so low as to write child pornography.)

This is Earth, you space demon. We live in a society!

("We Live in a Society" is an image macro series of memes featuring depictions of the Joker accompanied by intentionally edgy or "cringeworthy" captions. The memes typically praise video game enthusiasts and criticize women, attitudes which are commonly attributed to the online culture of "incels". Joker flips the irony of the meme and uses the phrase to call Pennywise uncivilized since it is an alien.)

I've seen your movies so I know you don't hurry,

(The It movies have been criticized for being longer than necessary and slow in pace, tending to drag on in parts of the films. This was a primary criticism for the 2019 film IT: Chapter 2, which is nearly three hours long.)

But I'll shoo you down the drain so fast, they'll call you Tim Scurry!

(In the original It miniseries, Pennywise is portrayed by Tim Curry. This is also a reference to how Pennywise appears to Georgie in the drain. Joker uses a wordplay on Tim's last name "Curry", by saying he Pennywise will "scurry", or move very quickly, down to the sewers.)

Ask Robin if I drop bars! I take smiles and I leave scars!

(This is a reference to the 1988 Batman comic series "Batman: A Death in the Family" in which the Joker brutally beats Robin (Jason Todd) with a crowbar, before leaving him for dead in a warehouse that is then blown up by a time bomb. Heath Ledger's Joker had many particularities, such as scars on his face that formed a permanent 'smile'.)

Guards in Arkham will admit that the Joker just killed IT! (Ha-ha-ha!)

(The "guards" continuing from "scars" in the last line creates a wordplay on the name of actor Bill Skarsgård who portrayed Pennywise in the 2017 and 2019 adaptations. Joker is often found confined within the Arkham Asylum, committing many violent acts there. Joker makes a pun on the It series name, as well as Pennywise's nickname, saying he "killed it" (his performance in the rap battle, as well as defeating or "killing" Pennywise with his performance). This is also a reference to the famous 1988 Batman story "Batman: The Killing Joke".)

Pennywise:

Arkham? Ha! You stole that from H.P. Lovecraft.

(Arkham is a fictional city in Massachusetts, part of the Lovecraft Country setting created by horror writer, H. P. Lovecraft, and is featured in many of his stories. Pennywise claims Arkham was an idea stolen from Lovecraft.)

Who needs guards when you couldn't even escape Cesar Romero's mustache.

(Cesar Romero portrayed the Joker in the 1960s' Batman TV series, where the Joker's face paint is painted over the actor's moustache, as Romero refused to shave it off, and has been associated with that incarnation since. Pennywise thinks if Joker can't get rid of a moustache, then security guards are not needed to protect him whenever he's being held in Arkham Asylum.

You jester, I'm Montresor, about to make you my Fortunato,

(Montresor is the narrator of "The Cask of Amontillado", a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, who tells an unspecified person, who knows him very well, of the day he took his revenge on Fortunato (Italian for "the fortunate one"), a fellow nobleman. Angry over numerous injuries and some unspecified insult, Montresor plots to murder his "friend" during Carnival, while the man is drunk, dizzy, and wearing a jester's motley.)

And seal this battle up like it was the Cask of Amontillado!

(At the end of the story, Monstresor seals a chained up Fortunato behind a brick wall. Nobody discovers his body until 50 years after the incident. Because the Joker is dressed as a clown the same way Fortunato is dressed as a jester, Pennywise states that he will "seal up," or definitively win, the battle against the Joker in the same manner.)

(Woo!) I spit January ember flames! (Woo!) You got beat by the Scooby Gang. (Woo!)

(In It, January Embers is a line in a love poem written by one of the Losers Club members, Ben Hanscom, dedicated to the girl in the group, Beverly Marsh, whose red hair is described as Winter fire, January embers. Pennywise claims that it spits fire. It then makes a reference to an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies called "The Caped Crusader Caper" where Mystery Incorporated, teamed up with Batman and Robin, successfully thwart the Joker and Penguin's plans and captures them. Pennywise implies that the Joker must be weak to have been beaten by Mystery Inc.)

I'm the John Wayne of John Wayne Gacys, the underground Clown Posse, my flow's Insane!

(John Wayne is an actor known for portraying compelling characters in Westerns. Pennywise says it puts that coolness in the archetype of killer clowns, such as John Wayne Gacy - a real life serial killer who killed young men and boys, and worked part-time as a clown for birthday parties. Insane Clown Posse is a rap group to which Pennywise draws yet another connection, being a insane clown and having "insane," or really good, flow. Since Pennywise largely operates in the sewers, It is literally the "underground" clown rapper in this battle. Underground also means someone who speaks to the lower class people, and generally gets respect in the rap community.)

I'm the poster boy for missing persons posters, Joker's gonna float with me!

(A poster boy is someone who represents a specified quality or cause. Numerous missing person posters were found around Derry after Pennywise killed his victims. Pennywise also makes another reference to his floating quote mentioned earlier.)

'Cause he just messed with the best wall-eyed rapper since the Notorious B.I.G.! (Wu-ha-ha!)

(American rapper Notorious B.I.G was iconic for being wall-eyed, a condition where one's eyes face different directions. In the 2017 and 2019 adaptation, Pennywise often achieves his scares by making one of its eyes move off-center.)


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