Evenin all! It’s still poetry month and I thought I’d milk it as much as I can and take the time to express my love for hip hop culture.
I figured I listen to incredible poetry every day through rappers accompanied by insane instrumentals. No doubt music is probably one of the most abstract forms of art out there, but hip hop merges our senses with art in more than just music….b-boys and graffers also come under the umbrella, and it all trickles down to those who are inspired by hip hop. Even the mainstream today is notably heavily influenced by hip hop…
[David Choe – Tupac] [Basquiat -Origin of Cotton] [Aaron McGruder – Boondocks] [Sofles – writing his name on stuff]
But for this post I’m mainly just gonna focus on the rap and poetry side of things.
In the words of Binary Star, you got hip hop, then you got hip pop!…the top 40 version of hip hop.
Well, kinda…it’s true that hip hop seems to be gaining rapid popularity lately but a lot of it is lacking any depth. There is actually crazy variety within hip hop and I’m gonna post a few songs I find particularly delicious, and hopefully pick a decent range of different artists…
After all, spreading knowledge/truth is pretty important! And that knowledge comes in the form of awesome fucking poetry. you got metaphors over metaphors over metaphors, word play to the days and endless array of imagery…it’s not quite the same as spoken word poetry as rappers are usually performing in time to beats. Rap is actually sort of a combo of prose/poetry/lectures on life/singing i guess…? no one can deny that rap is not technical in the nature of its content, channelled through rhythmical flow and delivery… in some instances , it almost reminds me of a stream of consciousness pouring out of the artist’s heart and mind; the universe directly expressing itself in the context they find themselves in.
I feel like hip hop is another one of those examples when a peoples’ art truly overcomes this system that had, for the longest time, excluded them to the outskirts of society. (understatement considering black history…)
Hip hop not only brought to black Americans legitimate economic wealth, but did so whilst following in the footsteps of their black fathers, maintaining the roots of their culture, always creatively reinventing something for the present time and breathing life back into their souls. And through many hip hop artists, I have probably learnt more about life than through any teacher I’ve had.
Growing up internationally, for a long while I didn’t really identify with much…a hodge-podge collage of everyone I’ve met and everywhere I’ve been…but pretty much totally confused about who I was; still am really…yet now I know what it is in the world that I strive for, things I wanna see happening in my lifetime, the person I want to be….
Amongst the beautiful people I’ve met and all those I have been blessed to befriend, some of my favourite hip hop artists have also inspired me to be a better person and many themes in their songs hit home on issues that I think are important to consider in contemporary life.
[extracts from RZA’s Tao of Wu…thanks google images!]
also, if you haven’t read any ye olde Lao-Tzu…the Tao is a pretty big deal! Just sayin
BINARY STAR: REALITY CHECK
“Silla oxide rhymes flow like a rockslide”
This is actually the first song off Masters of the Universe and I think really exemplifies many reasons why I love hip hop…errr hello, pianos anybody? and every line is just so fucking clever and gets better and better throughout the duration of the song.
DJ KRUSH ft. COMPANY FLOW: VISION OF ART
“The same faded disdain with a grain of insane patience
Patent that, fire in the sky, cataract eyes”
So DJ Krush is probably my favourite DJ ever, most of his albums are mainly instrumentals (which I lurrrve). He was once affiliated with Tokyo’s infamous Yakuza but scratched that…now he makes awesome beats for a living! I posted this cause I find the lyrics to this song kinda unusual – they are sharp and clinical but are still all dark and dirty…kudos to El-P and Mr. Len
BLACK STAR: THIEVES IN THE NIGHT
“Your firearms are too short to box with God
Without faith, all of that is illusionary
Raise my son, no vindication of manhood necessary”
Mos Def and Talib Kweli are pretty damn good but together, theyre like fucking unstoppable! I was actually wondering what songs to post and my boyfriend suggested Thieves, and I gotta agree with him…this song is outstanding, beautiful poetry. The song has its origins in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye which I haven’t actually read but sounds fucking heart wrenching in how it deals with the reality of racism…Blackstar expose the racism, elucidating the oppression and entrapment of white civilisation.
AESOP ROCK: SPARE A MATCH
“I was born where crooked demeanour seemed to spawn merit
I was born where all the king’s men couldn’t mend a broken spirit
I was born where it don’t matter if you stand, sit, or fall
To live and die as a brick brick brick in the wall”
I think people are kinda turned off by Aesop cause he’s verbose but you just have to concentrate really and think fluidly. I admit I find his lyrics very complex…they also touch on subjects that are quite abstract but in every Aesop song, you can pull something out of them that speaks to you.
BRAND NUBIAN: BRAND NUBIAN (’98)
“Now as I blast off with my curricula, comin’ perpendicular”
Brand Nubian are generally awesome. I loved the Everything is Everything album in particular but Foundation has this bad song on it! The first time I heard this, Grand Puba’s first line ^^ (above) ^^ had me totally hooked.
CUNNINLYNGUISTS: BRAIN CELL
“From a cellular phone to a cell on a phone
Or trapped in confession seeking blessing trying to atone”
It was really hard to pick a Cunninlynguists song but Brain Cell is easy to listen to and is one of those songs that sorta presents a critique of the trappings within society. Southerners got style!
TUPAC: DEATH AROUND THE CORNER
“Got me stressin with my pistol in my sheets, it ain’t healthy
Am I paranoid? Tell me the truth!
I’m out the window with my AK, ready to shoot
Ran out of indo and my mind can’t take the stress, I’m out of breath
Make me wanna kill my damn self but I see death around the corner”
How could I miss Tupac on a list of hip hop? When I first listened to Death Around the Corner, it struck me with its sincerity and how much of himself he threw into this song, speaking so freely about his paranoia and the whole game…I feel much of Tupac’s popularity stems from how straight up his lyrics are. They are always heartfelt but this song and So Many Tears always haunted me.
NUJABES ft. CISE STARR: HIGHS 2 LOWS
“Stumbling over unknown bumps and complications
And tribulations of my life of revelations”
I could go on forever listing songs but I thought I’d finish up on a song that I feel carries infinite beauty. R.I.P. Seba Jun! This is a great collab though…Cise Starr is an incredible rapper from the group CYNE. Anyone, from any background could listen to this song and relate in some way. All I can really say is sit back and let the lyrics swim through your head!
Hip hop is a tremendous gift to the world! It has given us some of the most unique, revolutionary visionaries of today, brimming with humanity who refuse to reject the situation and place they were born into, no matter how shitty it gets. In some ways, I could go as far as saying its totally intangible and in all of us, you just have to go out and seek it.