Jay-Z and Will.i.am have been compared to British Bard William Shakespeare.

The rappers are known for their slick lyrics and hip hop beats.

But the artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Michael Boyd, says they are very similar to the famous poet.

“The closest to Shakespeare in contemporary times are rappers,” Britain’s Daily Mirror reports Michael as saying.

“[They use] that extraordinary quick fire, highly-organised, very witty metrical rhyming language which is brilliant in terms of consciously addressing the whole of society.

“The reason Shakespeare is still alive is that he couldn’t help being relevant. He was trying to be relevant. He needed to explain the world around him to himself. Rap is like that too.”

Michael added that films and TV show are also influential but do not have the same power as they are not “addressing a live community.”

“There is something missing with them, that maybe Jay-Z doesn’t miss at a live concert,” Michael added. “He is in direct contact with his audience.”