The poetry of hip hop…

RunDMC276I think that history shall remember the lyrical poets of the tail end of the 20th Century and accord them the same degree of respect as the Romantic bards or the Beatniks. It’s critical to distinguish between the artists inspired to express an internal message and those thrust upon the public as “fast food” (c)rap.  It is important that this distinction be made as there is a vast difference between the content  and quality of the poetry inspired to deliver a message of positivity, versus that created solely for commercial success. Hip hop is a movement born out of the suffering experienced by humans existing in the pressure cooker of the inner city. It is a cry of anguish from the downtrodden and serves as a release for people in despair.

There is a misconception among much of the society that hip hop is an art form entrenched in violence and thus fosters violence.   This is erroneous.  Hip hop is an expression of the mindset that is necessary to survive in some communities. It is music from the street for people who live in a world inundated with violence. Hip hop doesn’t create violence, it is merely an expression that resonates with people who continuously live in a state of “fight or flight.” Art has always served as a scapegoat for the larger problems of society. While the content selected for main stream consumption is purposely “dumbed down” and covers very limited subject matter, this limitation cannot be applied to the entire genre.  That being said, the content selected by the music industry for mass airplay  often espouses violence, misogyny and glorifies negativity. Commentary on the reasons for this shall be reserved for a later post.

Artists like KRS-1, GZA, and numerous others have created some of the most intoxicating verses with rhyming schemes that rival Petrarch. If academia were inclined to peel away the rough exterior of “da Wu” for example, some of the most brilliant word-smithing will be revealed and presented for study. The following is the opening verse from Inspector Deck on the Wu track “Triumph.”

I bomb atomically
Socrates, philosophies and hypotheses
Can’t define how I be dropping these mockeries

Lyrically perform armed robbery
Flee with the lottery, possibly they spotted me
Battle-scarred Shogun, explosion when my pen hits
 ultra-violet shine blind forensics
I inspect you, through the future see millennium
Killer Bees sold fifty gold, sixty platinum
Shackling the masses with drastic rap tactics
Graphic displays melt the steel like blacksmiths
Black Wu jackets Queen B’s ease the guns in
Rumble with patrolmen, tear gas laced the function
Heads by the score take flight incite a war
Chicks hit the floor, die hard fans demand more
Behold the bold soldier, control the globe slowly
Proceeds to blow, swinging swords like Shinobi
Stomp grounds and pound footprints in solid rock
Wu got it locked, performing live on your hottest block

Poetry is the dramatization of experience in metrical language and this certainly comports with that definition.  It is worthy for study along lines of imagery, syntax, diction, caesura, and any other criteria applied to the analysis of poetry. Well, that’s my two cents on this issue.



About H3nry J3kyll
Vincit omnia veritas (using an obscure Latin heraldry motto makes one seem kinda learned and distinguished).

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