On the Myth of the “Perplexing Pegasus”

Israel Daramola breaks down the myth behind Rae Sremmurd's latest hit.
By    August 18, 2017

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Israel Daramola believes Jon Snow.

I am obsessed with Rae Sremmurd’s new song. The Mike Will-produced, bass-heavy track is just pretty good on its surface and would be nominally glossed over had it not been for its name, “Perplexing Pegasus.” The obvious question when you see that title is why? Why a Pegasus? Why is it perplexed? What does it mean? It does have a little bit of that Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory mantra of “no one knows what it means, but it’s provocative” but there has to be more to it.

The thought of the Pegasus alone is a charming, beautiful mythic creature, probably more known for being Hercules’ sidekick in the animated Disney film than its actual legend. But the legend of the winged stallion who was sired by Poseidon, as a horse-god, is a much more interesting history. Pegasus ascended to heaven after birth, obedient to Zeus, king of the gods, who instructed him to bring lightning and thunder from Olympus. Pegasus allows the hero to ride him to defeat a monster, the Chimera, before realizing many other exploits. His rider, however, falls off his back trying to reach Mount Olympus. Zeus transformed him into the constellation Pegasus and placed him up in the sky.

Rappers, like everyone else, are ultimately nerds pulling from the same reference database of culture that we’ve all grown up around. Kids who spent an inordinate amount of time watching television or movies, getting into comics or adventure books as well.

As I’m writing this, the biggest thing in the world is Game of Thrones, adapted from the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. This is a series full of dragons, knights, time travelers, mad kings, dragon queens and zombies; combining the medieval, the magical, and the horror into one amazing piece of fantastical lore. The fact of this show’s popularity has an effect on the artists around it. Like Harry Potter before it, Game of Thrones is certain to be destined to a kind of (annoying) shorthand to explain politics and general world business. The youth who will come up will owe a debt to the inspiration this sort of fantasy had on the art they will make and for me personally, it has already challenged the way I view storytelling and writing.

Going back to Rae Sremmurd, I don’t think “Perplexing Pegasus” is about or is necessary a product of any of this. At its core it’s just a fun song that coolly uses Pegasus as slang for a car, but art is part intention of the artist and the message received by the audience. Listening to “Perplexing Pegasus,” I am gleefully stuck on an image of the angelic beast: part horse and part bird, giant and graceful nonetheless; the brave warriors who get to ride it and use it in their battles against the tyranny of evil, their legends merely hearsay from the witnesses of their greatness and power throughout the land. The Pegasus, perplexed by what is going on around it, stays steady in its role as vehicle, guide, and partner of its rider. And when their mission is done, they fly off together to their next destination.

Looking at the singles cover, you see a childlike drawing of a Pegasus flying through the sky. A visual interpretation of the childish wonder with which the Pegasus and much of Greek mythology can serve as inspiration for. The visual adds fruit to the idea of the song being tied to fantasy entertainment. “Perplexing Pegasus” could be the theme song to a black, rap fantasy series or it could just be about a really nice car.

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