Thursday, November 4, 2010
Just read a massively interesting article on The Vulture. Essentially the premise is this. Sam Anderson, a literary critic, has never really listened to rap or hip hop, yet is widely schooled in all forms of literature. Thus when the Yale University Press publishes an 800 page collection of rap lyrics, it becomes accessible to him as it lays out for him the metaphors, similes, assonance, diction and other poetic devices from traditional poetry. After all the bragging, wit and vivid imagery of rap is not exclusive to it, its been in conventional poetry for centuries, just obscured by dead dialects, expressions and references.
The writer is fully aware of his limitations. He readily acknowledges hes missing out on the aural side of rap, what can be done not only with the beat but with delivery and tone of voice. Hence his focus is inherently on simply the words on the page, filtered through his own understanding of poetic traditions. He admits he has little knowledge of context and history, and the names and references seem somewhat simplistic to the average rap fan/nerd. But he does give us a perspective thats not usually available to the average fan.
Yet what he does bring is an unbridled enthusiasm and wide-eyed wonder of someone discovering the rich history and catalog of hip hop. He states his excitement to listen to artists like Mos Def, DMX, Bun B, Jay Z and Lupe Fiasco. And I wish him well. Just imagine when he gets lost in the hypnotic boom-bap sounds of the east, the smooth G-Funk groove of the west or better yet when he delves deeper into the impenetrable sonics of something like Madvillainy. He's in for a quite a ride.
Straight out of Comp 101 - Sam Anderson - NY Magazine