Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hip Hop, is it poetry?

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I think that Hip Hop (The popular street culture of big-city and inner-city youth, characterized by rap music.) is just another word for rap (A form of popular music characterized by spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics with a syncopated, repetitive rhythmic accompaniment.) is a contemporary form of poetry. The reason I think that Hip-Hop and poetry share common elements such as metaphors, rhymes, and lyrics. A poem is a verbal composition designed to convey experiences, ideas, or emotions in a vivid and imaginative way, characterized by the use of condensed language chosen for its sound and suggestive power and by the use of literary techniques such as meter, metaphor, and rhyme.

Poems and lyrics contain elements of people and their surroundings to describe the artist/writers emotions, moods, and feelings. Some examples of these elements are a dark room, which represents sadness and fear, a bright day, representing happiness and joy. Artists use human emotions such as anger, happiness, sadness, and laughter their subjects emotions as well as their own.

Many people from past generations believe that some Hip-Hop/Rap is just senseless junk because they just pay attention to the curse words and not to what the music is actually trying to say. However, when my dad and I listen to music we actually pay attention to what is being said rather then just the melody and the curse words. An example of an artist that puts significant meanings in his songs is Eminem and artists like him. My dad actually likes his songs because even though Eminem uses curse words my dad feels that Eminem actually thinks about the lyrics before he writes them and that he speaks from his heart and soul. Instead of other rappers, such as Lil Bow Wow, who he feels only talk about bad things and just speak to speak. He feels that all they think about is how to rhyme with curse words.

“Lose Yourself”, is a song written by Eminem that I think is poetically worthy. Eminem is a rapper who grew up in Detroit. He had a very traumatic childhood. At a young age he was abandoned by his father and abused by his mother, who also took drugs. “Lose Yourself” is about Eminem while he is trying to make a career as a rapper.

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After constantly being booed, hissed, and called degrading names, because he would choke and was unable to speak, he realized not to let the negative energy stop him. Instead, he used the energy to his advantage and to make his dream come true.

This song clearly states that Eminem had a very hard life before he hit the big league of rappers and how he pulled himself out of the gutter, so to speak, to become the wonderful and successful artist we know him as today. The way I am telling it, it sounds more like a story. However the way he said it and it is supposed to be read is either as a poem or a song so that way it has more poetic feeling because of both the form it is read in and the feeling given to it by the person reading it.

The bigger message in the song is not to give up when you have an opportunity, no matter what happens. Like he said in his song, he figured out what he wanted his career to be. He obtained the opportunity to make it happen, and instead of listening to people saying he should give up, he did not let it slip. Instead he persisted until he got the rapping career.

Many of the key elements in poetry have been used in this song such as rhyme (which shall be illustrated by word that are bolded), beat and rhythm (which shall be illustrated by the word pause located in parenthesis). Ex Lose yourself (pause) in the moment (pause) you own it (pause) you better never let it go. However just because it has those poetic qualities are in the song does not necessarily make it a good song/poem. What makes it good is the degree of poetic feeling involved because he uses such raw emotion. Eminem usually talks about stuff that has a strong sense of importance to him such as his daughter or recollections of his past, political changes, and most of his songs have morals and points. Like at the end of Lose Yourself he clearly states the point he was trying to make You can do anything you set your mind to, man. Or as in the song Cleanin Out My Closet the whole thing was one giant recollection of the past.

You see, any song can become a poem if it has enough emotion inter-wound within the words. Even Nelly, who I thought was one of the bad rappers, turned out to be good after I listened and understood the lyrics, it is a different form of poetry from Eminem’s style, because of the degree of poetic feeling and the issues discussed in each song, but it is poetry none the less. An example is in most of Eminems songs such as Say Good-bye to Hollywood he discusses the troubles of being famous and having a family. As opposed to Nellys song Air Force Ones in which through the entire song all he talks about are shoes. I also realized that just because Nelly speaks about things that I used to think were meaningless, does not mean that it is meaningless to everyone else.

In a sense both Eminem and other rap artists where treated a lot like Shakespeare when he created the first of his work. He was treated like a weirdo and an outcast but that never discouraged him, and eventually people grew to love and accept his works of art as a regular part of their culture.

I guess when you think about it all music can be poetry weather it is rap, rock, salsa, or R&B. It all can be poetry. It depends on how you interpret it. Even techno and other forms of music that do not have words can be poetry, like I said, it all depends on how you interpret it. When you think about it the definition of music (The art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm, and tone.) is also very much like the definition of poetry because of the unification of common poetic/song elements.

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