Armageddon-esque Atrocities [Ukraine]
Athanadorus, Hagesandros and Polydorus, Laocoön and his sons, from Rome, early first century AD. Marble. 1.84 metres high. (Musei Vaticani, Rome).
Of all the Roman copies of Greek masterpieces, Laocoön is amongst my faves of all time. Not only is it fiercely striking with some hypnotic Medusa effect going on but the story behind it (The Iliad) and what it represents solidifies its place as one of the bestest of the best for me. And as it is so goddamn old, there’s so much to say about it! It’s a work of art that has influenced the drawing styles of peeps like Michelangelo and Titian…all those big league Renaissance cats….in fact, the excavation probably couldn’t have come at a more exciting time as the Renaissance would have been in full swing and classical ideals were held in the highest regard.
So here’s a short, straightforward essay on the work that I wrote in my first year of uni! Have to say, my referencing has sincerely improved….
The marble group, Laocoön, is an illustrious canonical work of western tradition, depicting the writhing figure of the Trojan priest between his two sons, tangled in the serpents’ constricting coils. This realistic yet theatrical presentation of complex positioning, with elements of istorie are characteristics that typify the High Hellenistic phase. Also trending within the age was what is referred to as ‘Hellenistic Baroque’. An interest in emotion produced sculptures displaying pleasure, or suffering and anguish like Laocoön and his sons. There is a strong pyramidal arrangement of the figures, perfected by Athanadorus, Hagesandros and Polydorus; the group was likely to be based upon a Hellenistic sculpture portraying Laocoön accompanied by only one son. By simply incorporating an extra form, the sculptors have not only conformed to Virgil’s narrative in the Aeneid, they have created a far superior composition with both balance and dynamism.
The dramatic gestures and twisted poses convey the struggle and gruesome fate of Laocoön and his sons, who were eventually strangled to death by sea serpents sent by Poseidon. Presenting them at the mercy of the serpents strikes the viewer almost as violently as the action taking place. This expressionistic baroque style invokes pathos, compassion and panic, complying with the rules of tragedy as formulated by Aristotle. The sculptors were successful in grasping an image of despair and terror, with pain etched across Laocoön’s face. His single crime being; the distressed intention to warn his country of its doom and the evil lurking in the stomach of the infamous Trojan Horse. The destruction of Ilium was preordained as the gods had already decided upon its fall, thus it was essential that Laocoön was silenced. In acknowledging this certain tragedy within the epic, the poignancy of the sculpture is all the more enhanced as he and his sons were merely victims of fate. This emotional response to the sculpture moves us to search for underlying connotations and we are able to relate and comment on the precariousness of humankind, offering us a critical lesson in humility.
Verisimilitude is not entirely significant in the depiction of Laocoön himself; the sculptors would intentionally include physical features that would make the subjects recognisable to the viewer. However, the subject of the group is undeniably the death of Laocoön – his two sons and the snakes functioning as revealing indications. Yet although there are elements of realism seen in the faces, there is noticeably some exaggerated musculature of Laocoön’s torso as he twists away from the serpent’s bite. There is an inconsistency in the naturalistic portrayal, as we are presented with a youthful, strong body with the head of an old, bearded man. In fact, his powerful torso dominates the entire group whilst the youngest son succumbs to the serpents’ entwining suffocation and appears to be falling backwards on to the altar at which they officiated. The older son is captured, making a vain effort at escaping amongst the high drama occurring next to him.
The meandering snake-entangled bodies are often compared to the figures of the renowned frieze of the Altar of Zeus in Pergamon. Like the Laocoön, the work is a dramatic Hellenistic masterpiece capable of invoking compassion in the viewer. The one hundred and twenty metre-long battle depiction surrounds the base of the altar and is one of the best preserved high-relief sculptures of Greek antiquity. The battle portrayed, shows scenes of the Olympian gods beating, stabbing and strangling the protesting giants who are defending themselves in a futile struggle. The Athene plate in particular pulls the giant, Alcyoneus, up by his hair; his facial expression and posture like that of Laocoön’s. We can see distinct similarities in their rolling wide eyes, thick furrowed brows and outward protruding stomachs in a convulsing tension, showing a present fear of death in both works. It is notable that both also contain snakes, with Athene’s threatening snake crushing the figure of Alcyoneus by his limbs, about to take a fatal bite out of his chest. Hellenist baroque no longer produced static and calm sculptures like that of its classical roots but put emphasis on the realism of a moment and concentration on emotional and real mental states, in relationship to the physical.
[Difficult to decipher buuuttttt I think that Zeus hurls bolts of lightning against two young Giants and their leader, Porphyrion (left) ; Athene and Nike fight Alcyoneus and Gaia rises up from the ground (right)]
Although it has been compared to other sculptures, the work is almost unrivalled in its acclaimed status and is admiringly considered “superior to anything produced in painting or sculpture” by writers such as Pliny. The work was later admired by influential eighteenth-century art critic, Winckelmann. He fervently speaks of the concept of the ideal and beautiful that this sculpture embodies in its skilled rendering, yet engraved on the faces of the figures are expressions of hopelessness and horror. As one serpent bites down upon Laocoön’s hip on the left side, the priest cries out in agony:
“Just as the depth of the ocean is always calm, however much the surface may be raging, the expression in the figures of the Greeks, whatever their passion, displays a large and composed soul. This soul is written in Laocoön’s face, and not just in the face, in the presence of intense suffering.”[5
The excavation of the Laocoön in 1506 called upon Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo, who immediately recognised it from Pliny’s accounts. It’s representation of a heroic struggle and powerful muscular anatomy had an immense impact on Italian Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo. Laocoön and his sons served him as a model for figures on the Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco such as Jonah where this is evident in the contorted pose and over-muscled body. Since the Renaissance, it has been regarded as a prominent representative of antiquity. It was once thought to originate from the Greek Hellenistic period, imported to Rome but is now believed to be the work created by Greek sculptors, executed in the revival of Hellenistic style for a patron.
Artists of ancient Greece were once celebrated and respected; a majority of them, employed by the Romans, were of Greek descent and were imported as early as 500BC during the Republic. A great demand for Greek works accelerated after the sack of Corinth (146BC), where the Romans seized a number of impressive sculptures, bringing them to Italy. Yet, throughout both the Republic and the Empire, most Greek sculptors became anonymous labourers, although it was understood that they signified an established and accomplished tradition. They provided the Romans with copies of Classical and Hellenistic pieces, alongside sculptures commissioned by wealthy Roman patrons. Workshops were erected where artists would collaborate, suppressing their individual creativity in the notion of making a combined piece of art. Laocoön is one such work like this, attributed to the sculptors, Athanadorus, Hagesandros and Polydorus of Rhodes.
Their combined effort created a celebrated masterpiece and “made visible every impulse of nature and displayed [their] great science and art”. The sculpture is successful at convincingly depicting the vivid description of the tragedy in the Aeneid, conveying some of the most intense human emotions which, in turn, move us and we too, are lost in the serpents’ coils plunging deep into despair, sharing their fears. However, amongst all the sorrow and suffering, we are confronted with the tormented soul of a courageous man whose only desire is to live, profoundly echoing the essence of mankind.
Wincklemann, Johann J. (2006). History of the Art of Antiquity. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute Publications.
Pedley, John G. (2007). Greek Art and Archaeology. (4th Ed.) Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Chamoux, Franҫois. (1966). Greek Art. (Vol. 2.) Milan, Italy: Amilcare Pizzi S.p.A.
Kleiner, Fred S. (2010). Gardner’s Art Throughout the Ages – The Western Perspective. (13th Ed.) (International Student Edition). United States of America: Clark Baxter.
Wilkins D.G., Schultz B., Linduff K.M. (2005). Art Past Art Present. (5th Ed.) Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Siebler, Michael. (2007). Greek Art. Germany: Taschen.
Dark Romanticism is not a movement as such but a mind state that penetrates the centuries
Romanticism is a grace, celestial or infernal, that bestows us eternal stigmata.
(Baudelaire, The Salon of 1859)
Romanticism seems to stem from a collective memory in artists, a shared human experience. it finds beauty in the banal, seeks the enigmatic in the ordinary and reaches into the core, exposing raw emotion.
It was the murky fog underneath the gloss of the Enlightenment; the sinister side of humanity revealed as the political orders and social systems cracked and dragged all of Europe into the depths of suffering. There was much dispute in intellectual circles over reason as a “universal, judgemental authority” with the release of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. In questioning the verisimilitude of this concept, people who previously thought they were so fucking enlightened and progressive became shaken! Disillusionment took hold.
The black pool of the conditio humana sprung apparitions of death, spirits and demons plaguing the mind, Lady Macbeth’s and Grimm creatures, the dark shadows of the subconscious.creeping and sprawling across the canvas.
The literature and works of masters such as Milton, Victor Hugo, Byron, Shakespeare, Dante, Edgar Allan Poe, Goethe helped inform the phantasmagoria now so embedded in our brain folds! Mario Praz wrote a book in 1930 (published in English 1933) called The Romantic Agony. His analysis was on Romantic literature and in particular…it’s preoccupation with the erotic. Yet, tangled in there, he examined the cultural decline of Europe and the passion of the nocturnal psyche. It was established as a scholarly study but understood in terms of Gothicism. This is not the same! There is no historical era for Dark Romanticism…in fact, in many ways I find a distinct parallel between the so-called Enlightenment of the late 18th century and the Now.
Städel Museum’s exhibition Dark Romanticism brought together a collection of 200 works from +-seventy different artists in an attempt for some proper theoretical exploration! And Dark Romanticism is deserving of attention….it touches something very deep in the abyss of the human heart, no matter how buried or hidden it may seem. I think much of the paintings appeal to modern sentiments in their alarming graphicness. It is to shock, to puncture our little bubbles of comfortable thought in our comfortable little houses and comfortable clothes and comfortable conventions. Aristotle’s Poetics tried to explain the human fascination with violence: something disgusting in life is pleasurable in art. And during the late eighteenth century, this occupied the minds of writers and philosophers alike. One of my faves, Edmund Burke, wrote A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful in 1757.
Aaaaaahhhhhh, the Sublime….something that inspires both awe and terror inside of you. BUT apparently, you can only find enjoyment in the Sublime when you know it isn’t gonna directly affect you(….hmmmm debatable!) As it both encompasses the beautiful aka, that which imprisons us in the ‘sensuous’ physical world…so the sublime can free us from it with its overwhelming and staggering impact. There is no gradual transition from dependency to liberation. There is one or the other…
I suppose ya’ll are wondering where the fuck is Freud in all this? Well….notably Carl Gustav Carus and Victor Hugo kinda beat him to it. They were devoted to the galaxies of the human mind long before, but I suppose not written so ‘scientifically’. If you wanna call psychology a science….Regardless! The unlocking of one’s knowledge on the world lay in knowledge of self.
These archetypes delve into the darkest fathoms of human fears and could bring a monster to his knees in profound joyful woe.
Francisco Goya, The Third of May 1808, 1814
I’m not afraid of witches, hobgoblins, apparitions, boastful giants…nor indeed any kind of being except human beings.
This masterpiece did not feature in the exhibition but should be mentioned overrrr and oooovvvverrrrr. It is perhaps the only work of Goya’s that illustrates the slightest ray of hope. I think it can still testify as a Dark Romantic through exposing us to the injustice and horror of war…something so repulsively unimaginable but so so real.
This was painted after Napoleon’s occupation of Spain in 1808. Here, Goya has memorialised the Spanish resistance caught in a face-off with the French military in front of the barracks. The Spaniards consist of farmers, labourers…countrymen! Whether they are hostages of the soldiers or not, they are pinned to the side of a hill by the fierce repetition of the firing squad who remain faceless, un-relatable and robotic. They literally merge into a dark grey killing machine, proven to be rather efficient by the pile of fresh corpses strewn across the ground. In contrast, we see the rebels in a disorganised jumble but bathed in golden light. Goya has treated the lamp like a division between good and evil: the noble every-man and the anonymous machine in the shadows. But most importantly it dramatically highlights the martyr of the story; on his knees, his arms flung open like Christ. (If you look very closely, his hands appear to be pierced). The steely guns also point directly towards this glowing figure. His facial expression is difficult to decipher but pulls us into the deepest deepest depths of human emotion: fear, pain and suffering, defiance but also the power of belief. It’s also notable that if this dude stood up, he would be mahoosive!! Larger than life, gigantic, a pretty big deal…. much like the concepts of courage and faith that he represents, not only for the Spanish but for people everywhere.
Francisco Goya, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, 1799
Goya’s most iconic etching comes from a set of eighty aquatint prints called Los Caprichos critiquing humanity’s irrationality and various blunders alongside contemporary society/every ‘civil’ society.
[Aquatints look yummy – they get a rich, textured and varied surface]
When approaching this, anyone can be certain that this is one ominous image! The man (Goya himself?) slumbers amongst his papers and pens, bats and owls encroaching from all sides while the lynx lies in wait, its eyes gleaming through the dark (- a creature both mysterious and evil in Spanish folk tradition). It’s pretty interesting to note that sueño means both sleep and dream….We realise we have entered Goya’s nightmare as we lock eyes with some creature in the centre of the composition…he meets our gaze and forces us to actively participate in this shadowy corner of thought. Without Reason, evil and corruption prevails. To me, the etching is best summarised in the artist’s own words
Imagination abandoned by Reason produces impossible monsters, united with her, she is the mother of the arts the source of their wonders.
This pre-enlightenment work perhaps signals the start of the ‘Sublime’ subject in Romanticism, then? This dark vision of humanity characterises Goya’s work way before the war and occupies his mind for the rest of his life. And for sure, I can empathise with his despair, and that familiar feeling when you conclude that there is no salvation in a world so fucked up.
Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare, 1781
People were actually warned to stand a fair distance from this painting when first revealed to the public. It’s impact was big and the work was received with a mixture of fascination and alarm amongst the endless crowd pleazers of the Royal Academy’s annual exhibition of 1782. Fuseli ignored the iconographic traditions of his predecessors that controlled the way dreams were supposed to look. And thus people saw that this was emotionally evocative and psychologically charged; “philosophical ideas made intuitive, or sentiment personified.”
The image draws on Germanic folklore in the depiction of what we would recognise as an incubus and a wraith-like horse….the word nightmare has its roots in mara – a demonic creature much like an incubus, that suffocates you as you sleep (with a particular taste of what here appears to be, salacious young women). It was also believed that mara would ermmm ‘ride’ horses which left them very unhappy, sweaty and exhausted in the morning. With this reference to literature and the classical influence seen in the deathly sculptural figure, (it ain’t easy to accomplish that wet-look drapery!), this painting was just about suitable enough for the panel at the Academy. That lusty bed of red she is splayed across heightens the emotion and is literally there to remind us of sex and death…if it wasn’t already overt enough in the heavily menacing-oppressing-voyeuristic-mood of it all. We are stripped of extra background details; Fuseli wants us to focus on the nightmare, where passion and horror collide expressed in his figures. Kenneth Clark once remarked that Fuseli had exposed society’s ‘hidden neurosis’. Freudian ideas of sublimation also feed into Fuseli’s painting; could this simply be a sublimated sexual instinct? [socially unacceptable impulses are consciously transformed into socially acceptable action – this long term conversion of the initial impulse aka art/inventions serve a much greater cultural or social purpose.] The threatening scenario sent rumours flying around London that the crazy Swiss ate bloody pork before bed errynight and took a bunch of drugs to stimulate his erotically nightmarish visions! Visions that solidified his place as a key player in Dark Romanticism.
Caspar David Friedrich, The Sea of Ice, 1824
Aged thirteen, whilst ice skating, Caspar David was saved from drowning by his younger brother Johann Christoffer. But in saving him, Christoffer took his place and fell through the frozen lake. His life following, and many of his paintings clearly allude to this traumatic experience.
Caspar David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea, 1824
This is the most famous of all Caspar David’s paintings. And for me, this is the most chilling and pensive image of the post…it is elusive, suggesting the integral connections between nature, personal experience and visions of the very complex self. Evocative of silence and solitude, many art historians immediately note the late paintings of Rothko in the subdued and gloomy colours that hover all hazy-like. He employs something us art nerds call Rückenfigur…the monk is our surrogate, experiencing the devastating sublimity of nature. Dwarfed by the landscape, he raises his hands in prayer, contemplating life and all its impermanence as the black waters of infinity stretch out before him. It is true that when I consider sublime landscapes, all I see is Turner Turner Turner but to me, there is an understated reunion here between the spiritual self and nature.
Perhaps the monk stands, listening to the breathing of the earth as he recollects his past; his wrongdoings, his failures, his heartbreaks. Perhaps the monk laments a life without a matrix of streets and the descending smog of no return! Perhaps it is guilt, despair, uncertainty. Whatever it may be for Caspar David Friedrich, the beauty of this mystic image is based on the personal experience of the viewer. We end up meditating about our own lives as we melt into the scene and take the place of the faceless monk. The open and expansive sky is awash with poignancy…no stars, no life. But Dawn peers over the clouds, offering a way out. I can imagine in the midst of the elements, the wind tearing through me and releasing me of my troubles; this painting teaches me/us the art of submission, letting go, flowing with the transient nature of life.
Although a heavy silence permeates the picture, this is not dark or frightening for me…in fact it is the ultimate communication. There is something interesting about sharing silence with complete strangers whilst enthralled in a magnificent painting. You break out, look around and realise everyone is dealing with deep emotions and profound elemental insights too and its insanely humbling…If more people took the time to view and understand such works, we could flicker from hubris to humility in a second.
Thank you for providing such a well of information 🙂
Here I am lying down to sleep;
No night-mare shall plague me
until they have swum through all the waters
that flow upon the earth,
and counted all stars
that appear in the skies.
[Thus help me God Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen!]
As I can’t help but point out all the time….THE WORLD IS CHANGING! almost way too fast
[Keep up or die out…?]
We must use what is dominant to spread change
Zurbaran, Agnus Dei, 1635-40
Art today is moving in directions of which our forebears had no inkling; the Horsemen of the Apocalypse are heard galloping through the air; artistic excitement can be felt all over Europe – new artists are signalling to one another from all sides; a glance, a touch of the hand, is enough to convey understanding.
Franz Marc, Blaue Reiter Manifesto, 1912 [quoted in ‘Letters of the Great Artists – from Blake to Pollock’, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 207.]
As true today as it was then
Bring on that apocalypse, vive la
Franz Marc, Tower of Blue Horses, 1913
Franz Marx, Fighting Forms, 1914
It’s so exciting to be alive right now! With the birth of the internet and globalisation, this generation of cyber kids is noticeably on the rise…
The influx of information we’re receiving is astounding and not prescribed to us through schooling. This means the world is slowly waking the fuck up!
Well, unless you live in China like my mum and sister do at the moment…I don’t know if my sister even got my last email cause I told her to find a proxy and to seek out Ai Weiwei!
Which reminds me….Ai Weiwei’s existence and the fact that he is actively trying to change the reality he was born in to is super inspiring! Whilst doing this, he is also changing the face of art as we know it. I mean, fuck this Damient Hirst bullshit!
In Ai Weiwei, I see a similar spirit that has fed movements like the German Expressionists [Der Blaue Reiter and Die Brucke] or Dada when they were confronted with World Wars and such oppressors as History’s beloved Hitler…the role of the true artist is to teach and artists have always been fighting against old established forces but ultimately, creating art that stands for peace and unity by destroying expectation and busting loose from the bars of society.
Whatever is happening in China, it is booming! The art coming out of there is both pronounced and allusive, and all artists are threads woven into a much bigger social fabric…The Cultural Revolution of 66-76 saw the socialist efforts to push soviet-style realism and traditional forms of ink painting by banning everything else, whether it was Chinese or Western. Revolting against this meant you were branded a capitalist douchebag or a total traitor! But since the 80s, things have been picking up with the role of the artist becoming important again, in providing a national image and creating sufficient income.
Many artists are revitalising what the Cultural Revolutionaries attempted to repress
Many of them critique capitalism and consumerism
Many criticise corruption and censorship
Many try to make sense of history and ideology – what is real, what is truth?! The synthesis is brought into question, an ever more pressing question here in the digital age!
Shen Shaomin – Thousand Hand Buddha and Bonsai No.39
MadeIn Company (led by Xu Zhen) – Immortals’ Trails in Secret Land……a ginormous collage tapestry that echoes digitized cut and paste, a window or screen into the life of China
Xu Zhongmin – Egg Shape
Zhang Tingqun – ‘net’ paintings…his internal nebula of memories and thoughts, executed in a calligraphy brush
Zong Ning – Slum…inkjet-printed performance-photo-paintings
[sorry, slack on dates – but all are fairly recent…]
meandering through 798 the other year with my sister….Beijing bitches!!!
Can’t make it to China?
Holla to my people in the pacific…Sydney is more doable, right? Visit the White Rabbit Gallery, home to a great range of contemporary Chinese artists. Their website is amazing, with a short synopsis of all the featured artists and obviously much more!
It’s exciting to see where art is heading in this age where we can travel and communicate across oceans without leaving the couch. Even doodling is a legitimate art form!
“CHINA BLUE” – documentary on the denim factories. This is my Chinese denim slave girl.
Kids are wiser and more intuitive than ever before, and the ‘apocalypse’ is coming!
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.
The Daily Post says April is National Poetry Writing Month!
When you can’t concentrate/don’t wanna do work, trying to write a haiku is like a creative brainteaser.
It’s endless fun but also real rare to be satisfied with your poems!
My fingers through yours
As bullets nuzzle brothers;
Float in the bloodstream.
Pieces of Corinth
Crack the long fragility
Of patterned design.
Dawn extends her hand
Over my burning eyelids.
From crawling, I stand.
JMW Turner, Light and Colour (Goethe’s Theory) – The Morning after the Deluge – Moses writing the Book of Genesis, 1843