I’m no rapper. I’m not an M.C. I’m probably too introverted for both of those. But hip hop has added to my writing (and life) in monumental ways.
Before hip hop, I was one of those people who thought that any poetry that rhymed or used traditional poetic techniques was lame. Free-verse all the way.
I mean, I’d say that even though my favorite poems have ended up being those which used classic prosody better, more creatively than most. And that was the thing, hip hop taught me to look at language not only for what it says but how intricately it says it.
Without flow, no poem is remembered. Without patterns, no poem makes sense on the page. Without a sound palate, no poem sounds like more than a person just talking.
Biggie rhyming hippopotamus with preposterous did me in. That was it. I was like, Okay, there is more to sonics than just sonnets and nursery rhymes. Exceptional things happen here.
I listened more deeply. I read more deeply. Subtle sound play started to make its way into my thoughts. I could hear authors connecting words and ideas without spelling it out for the lowest denominator of reader (like Ezra Pound said one should do). Sonic values became valuable.
Use of skill became a thing to show off instead of lazily let happen in forgetting to do otherwise type thing. Like, Oh, those two words happened to match, what a happy accident!
Nah. Make the whole poem pop, make it sound like a poem, for god’s sake. Make people remember it by giving it its best chance to stick in their minds. Give them rhythm, rhyme patterns, give them a song.
Anyway, hip hop helped get me there. I loved the music I found, the rappers I listened to and the people I shared that music with.
Thanks, hip hop. You didn’t save me, #doomtree, but you definitely made my world a better place to live and write in.