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October 24, 1990 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-10-24

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Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 24, 1990

by Peter Shapiro
The rhythm is indeed the rebel for
the best hip hop bands. The pulsat-
ing dance-floor grooves facilitate the
oppositional leisure politics of danc-
ig (and the subsequent transcen-
dence of banality and cultural op-
pression which dancing allows). The
frequent use of alienating drum ca-
dences and instrumentation and the
blitzkreig fury of scratching con-
fronts Amerikkkan culture and whi-
te ownership head on with a sonic
barrage that cuts like the Harmattan
winds blowing across the Sahelian
landscape of Mali.

Unfortunately, critics concentrate
too much on this aspect of the mu-
sic because of the prevailing Carte-
sian dualism myth about the separa-
tion of the mind and the body. West-
ern culture dictates that whi-tes have
sole possession of the "superior"
mind, leaving people of color to
fight over various territories of the
body. This notion has led to the un-
questioned assumptions that Marvin
Gaye is great only because of his
sultry voice and Paul Simon is more
of a poet than Robert Johnson.
But long before Chuck D. and
KRS-One united the aphorisms of
Gil Scott-Heron ("Women will not
care if Dick finally got down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow!
Because Black people will be in the
street looking for a brighter day/ The
revolution will not be televised") and
The Last Poets ("Jesus will be try-
ing to hail the last gypsy cab out of
Harlem/ When the revolution
comes") with a brutally realistic au-
ral portrait of inner city life, lies an
even more ignored facet of African
American culture, the true roots of
Some time in the post-Harlem
Renaissance era, after Lasngston
Hughes had been silenced by the
House Committee on Un-American
Activities, when signifying had be-
come an art form, and when the
bloated intellectualism of Robert
Hayden had given way to the ghetto
realism of Gwendolyn Brooks, Black

poets gained a militant conscious-
ness. Even more marginalized in
Amerikkkan society than the
achievments of their native African
culture, African-American poets of
the '60s, particularly LeRoi Jones
(Imamu Amiri Baraka), Don L. Lee
and Nikki Giovanni, exist in a ne-
glectedly small world of bitter pain
offering only momentary glimpses
of joy in traditional rhythms, bur-
geoning nationhood and love.
Refusing to be confined in a rigid
academic world defined by consti-
pated intellectuals like the New Crit-
ics where art exists in some holy
nether region above and beyond triv-
ial matters like politics, economics
and social constructs, the militant
Black poets flaunted the process that
went into the creation of their art.
Wearing the pain of cultural imperi-
alism on their sleeves, these poets
re-invented the English language for
their own purposes, taking centuries
of whi-te definition by stereotypes
through the same humiliating injury
of hair straightening with lye or skin
All African-American art is, by
definition, revolutionary. But this
would never be ascertained without
looking at the process that went into
the creation of their culture- 350
years of being raped, coerced into
menial labor, turned into Sambos,
fire-hosed, lynched and burned.
Baraka, Lee and Giovanni made this
as blunt as a shot from Stagger
Lee's .45.
LeRoi Jones liberated himself
from the beatnik imitation of
African-American culture as a quest-
for-experience type of poetics with
which he had concerned himself for
the first part of his career. As a re-
sult, he inaugurated one of the 20th
century's. most important literary
movements. Taking his inspiration
from the musical pulse of everyday
African-American culture, Jones
transferred English into a vehicle for
expressing the sublime and holy
-beauty of a culture intimately inter-
twined with the earth not the here-
after (read: death). Quickly, this lyri-
cism changed into a verbal Mau Mau
movement stressing the Black soul
and persecuting Satanic caucasians
with a combination of violent in-
dictment and prophecy:

... These are the words of lovers.
Of dancers, of dynamite singers
These are the songs if you have
the music
(from "Three Movements and a
Of course, it is not only whitey
that doesn't have the music, but the
Black bourgeoisie who, "grins po-
litely in restaurants/ has a good word
to say/ never says it/ does not hate
ofays/ hates, instead, him self/ him
black self." Jones' Black self leaped
out of his skin with panther claws
fully extended when his gruesome
1966 poem, "Black Art," was pub-
lished. With all the subtlety of a
Zulu war cry, Jones screamed and
pleaded that,
Poems are bullshit unless they
teeth or trees or lemons piled
on a step....
Black poems to
smear on girdlemamma mulatto
whose brains are red jelly stuck
between 'lizabeth taylor's toes.
...We want "poems that kill."
Assassin poems,
Poems that shoot
guns. Poems that wrestle cops
into alleys
and take their weapons leaving
them dead
...We want a black poem. And a
Black World.
Let the world be a Black Poem
And Let All Black People Speak
This Poem
or LOUD.
Taking Jones' idea that Black po-
ems should kill, Don L. Lee's po-
etry speaks with the same imperative
power as an anxiously clenched
muscle girded by an iron chain. His1
best work absorbs the power of a
caged beast spitting its rage at the
pale ugly tourists coming to gawk at
him: "re-act to whi-te actions:/with.

real acts of blk/action./ BAM BAM
BAM..re-act/ NOW niggers/ & you
won't have to/act/false ac-
tions/at/your/children's graves."
Proving that the myths of Shine
and Stagger Lee speak not only to
Black men but to all African Ameri-
cans, Nikki Giovanni takes Lee's
militancy one step further. Daring
Black men to become fully realized
males by confronting their castrating
oppressors head-on, her "The True
Import of Present Dialogue: Black
vs. Negro" is perhaps the most
sweeping of these new militant po-
ems: "Nigger/Can you kill/Can a
nigger kill/Can a nigger kill a
honkie/...Can you piss on a blond
head/Can you cut it off/...Can we
learn to kill WHITE for
BLACK/Learn to kill niggers/Learn
to be Black men." Long before the
debate about using language that
identifies with the oppressor that
emerged with N.W.A.; Giovanni and
Lee showed that placid liberals
preaching peace and love are more
dangerous to African Americans than
an honest expression of rage: "His
headstone said/FREE AT LAST,
FREE AT LAST/But death is
slave's freedom."
While Vernon Reid and Nonat
Hendryx can whine and whimper at
Ice-T and Ice Cube for saying
"nigger" at a music biz convention, .
the fury that their language expresses
is less harmful and more culturally
grounded than any coalition of
Blacks wanting to switch. The blar-
ing warnings of Public Enemy, the
cock-whipping power of N.W.A.,
and the Afrocentric utopian visions
of the Native Tongues and BDP
would not exist without Don L.
Lee's "The Primitive:"
taken from the
shores of Mother Africa.p
the savages they thought we 1
they being the real savages..
to save us. (from what?) A
our happiness, our love, each k
other? f
their bible fri
our land. (introduction to eco-a
christanized us.a
...against our nature, this '
weapon called
civilization- C
they brought us here-
to drive us mad.Y
(like them).

hoot guns

Blastmaster KRS-One, the teacher, taking a lesson from Amiri Baraka,
tries to create a world that is a Black poem

Continued from page 7
The Skels
Be With That
Mystery Fez
"Accidentally Leon Errol" is the
eason to listen to this album.
Sport - lead vocalist, harmonica
player and pennywhistler- delivers
yrics to kill (and laugh along with)
amidst this '90s version of rock 'n'
oll. Sport tells us: "When he wants
ove he gets a blow job... wants
irearms to buy the farms... I've tried
t drunk and I tried it sober and
neither one was that great... I was a
baby in the '50s, a boy in the '60s...
a youth in the '70s and a man in the
80s and in the '90s I'm gonna be a
god." The Skels show us that you
an still rock hard and heavy without
banging your head or screeching
your guitar,
"You Can't Stand Up" incites a
reaction of something like, "Cool,
dude!" Bill "Rosebud" Hafener and
Willy Liguori parade some original

guitar licks while Sport yells the
words - not the all-too-typical
horror-movie-style screaming, but a
less distancing angry cry to which
we can relate.
"She's the kind that scares me
most of all" is the kind that Sport-is
des::ribing in "She's the Kind." This
is a pleasantly peculiar track. Spo
doesn't try to hit any notes, but he
doesn't need to. Best of all, he gives
us a taste of the pennywhistle.
"Mesmerised" finally gives Jim
"Bamm Bamm" Colford a chance to
wear in the drum skins. The drums
kick in and pound on your chest,
later joined by frantic guitar and
John "Flatlever" Borghardt powering
the bass to the songs' completion.,,.
Be With That, the follow-up 4o*.
The Skels debut How Do You Like It
Here Now, is welcomingly different
from the majority of new material
around. They deliver an album worth
listening to without trying to:
rekindle the past, taking the paved
path, being incredibly obscure or
selling out.
-Kim Yaged



You can. Call 763-0379.

Saturday, October 27
8pm-2am a East Quad
$3 in advance/$4 at tE door

Careers to create change
Jeff Tirengel provides individual psychotherapy and family therapy
as part of his fourth year supervised clinical internship experience
ata major mentalhealth center. He also takes advanced seminars
in clinical intervention that draw on psychodynamic, cognitive-
behavioral, and systemic theories. As his third year PsyD project,
Tirengel produced a videotaped program examining the critical
issues of pregnancy loss. Several national organizations, im-
pressed by the video, have helped the program reach a wide:
Jeff is a student in the Doctorof Psychology (PsyD) Program at the
California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles, apro-
gram that prepares students for practice-oriented careers.
For more information about our PsyD and PhD programs at our
campuses in Berkeley/Alameda, Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego
call us at 800/457-1273 (National) or 800/457-5261 (California).





:Free Mouthguard Clinic



Saturday, October
8:30 - 2:30 PM

27, 1990

The Students and faculty of
the UnIietyof Micgan
School of Dentistrywilhs
Mouthguard Day
A Custom made mouthguard
will, be fabricated free of charge
(occasionaly a moulhguard
cannot be made because of
Indivdual mouth shapes. Everyone
wiN be screened, and advised as
to whether or not one can be
fabricated for them)

Al ages are welcome
ParkngIb available In the Fletcher St.
paskg lot.
The Universtty of Michigan
School of Dentistry
North Universlty Ave.
Ann Arbor. Mlchktaan 48104
Phone# 764-15 64
Located on the corner of N. University
and Fletcher St.
RPbic may enter thou the mah
entrance off North Uriverslty.'or the
entrance off Fletcher St.

2 Bards ariaDJ
Dirty Street Detour
Costume Contest - Horror Movie



You expect a lot.
So do we.

Career Planning and Placement

don't be left outl

Jan Harold Brunvand
The Scholar of Urban Legends
Featured speaker at Caer Expo 1990
Wednesday, October 24
5:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Pendleton Room, Michigan Union

Your first job is more than just
a place to begin your career It's
where you'll receive the training and
development that will help deter-
mine your future. You've set high
standards - so have we.
One of the nation's 15 largest
corporations, Aetna was recently
named by Fortune magazineas one
of America's most admired corpora-
tions. What's more, Aetna has been
recognized by Good Housekeeping,
Worng Mothei Black Enterprise,

munication skills; commitment initia-
tive, flexibility and creativity. We hire
graduates with degrees in arts and
sciences, economics, finance,
accounting, information systems, and
We'd like to meet you and
learn more about your expectations.
Look for us on campus on the
following dates:
Reception/Information Session
lhesday, October 23, 1990
Career po

Bmivmd, a syndiodco t and
CmsI BrvildAgnau*,The Mim
Padhehai gDbhwsg will
= emmii bmy. yet bsesyable,
view of hwarm of wait

Brown Bag with Brunvand
Noon - 1 p.m.
Ameribm u 'alhar flnawjut

This is it!
Here's your chance to get your picture
in the 1991 MichiganEnsian yearbook
Our photographer is back!

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