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September 30, 2010 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-09-30

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4B - Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4B - Thursday, September 30, 2010 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

You're a poet,
now you know it

Campus perspectives
We asked the people of Ann Arbor what they think about the
current state of rap and hip hop. Here's what they had to say.
As told to Joe Dimuzio 11 Daily Arts Writer

first is s
really r
"but -
then br
into a sl
me in s
the bros
of your
ing life:
sense of
read the
just hap
has the
kind of
asked tc
we read
- we ge
We g
to prose
or urgin
gut. I'm
admit, b
Even wl
plot or c
miss the
It's n
(think R
acter (ti

hen I tell people I'm a line along or the subtle internal
poet, I often hear one rhyme of "black" and "-wrack." In
of two responses. The other words, if the poetry doesn't
heepish apology. "I should give you something worth remem-
ead more poetry," they say, bering, forget it.
and When I think of Merwin's
eak off line - as a poet this time - I hate
hrug. it. I hate it because it's so physi-
sure cal and memorable, so out of my
failed league. Say the line aloud and
ome all my blather about plosives and
rhymes disappears; you'll hear for
ry yourself why it's so good. I want
not be DAVID to be able to do what he does in
ccoli LUCAS that line, to write like that. This
read- brings me to the second response
You I hear when I tell people I'm a
't read poems out of some poet. If the first was apology, this
f obligation. You should is confession.
em if you enjoy them; I "Oh, I've written some poetry
pen to believe everyone myself," someone will say. And
capacity to enjoy them. there's the other secret. Every-
edly, poetry is a different one's written poetry, even people
reading, and when we are who haven't read much of it.
read it in the same way Something - a poem in a text-
prose - as if a reading book, a lullaby a mother sang, a
hension test were to follow pop song from adolescence - has
nt lost, moved them to imitation.,
et lost because we're used You hear those words in your
conveying information head for years; you whisper them
sg a plot along. If prose to yourself as a kind of prayer.
to the mind, poetry Or you find that someone has
to the mouth and ear, the managed to express feelings you
oversimplifying things, I recognize in yourself but couldn't
ut there's a reason IKEA's have articulated. And then you
s aren't written as sonnets. want to do it yourself, like kids
hen we read beautifully playing air guitar or scratching
,"poetic" prose (Virginia imaginary turntables in bedrooms
,for instance) we're so across the country.
on how the words affect of course, not everyone has
haracter that we often access to real guitars and turn-
e music of the words them- tables. And only the few geniuses
among us take up instruments and
ot that poetry can't do plot create something recognizable as
Zobert Browning) or char- music on inspiration alone. Poetry
hink Milton's Satan), but requires no equipment. We can
begin to experiment almost as
soon as we have come into the
English language. Think of the lit-
Poetry is tle brother in "A Christmas Story,"
rhyming over his dinner instead
ieaningless of eating it:

"I hink I like (rap) some - ZACH GOLDSMITH
what on an aesthetic level,
but most of the time, I feel- -LSA SEN IOR
like it is incredibly de-
rogatory, misogynistic, homopho -
bic, violent, bigoted, obsessed with
the wrong values. Money. Drugs.
Misogyny. Sexual prowess."
"A friend the other day showed me
50 Cent's Twitter. And it was Un.
Be. Lievable. It was unbelievable.
Not only did he seem just retarded,
it was some of the most disgusting
things I've ever read in my life. Hs-
whole value is like, he's been shot
however many times and whatever.
I'm not down with that."
"I preferupdeat hip THOMAS WRIGHT
hop- inother words, W I H
I prefer thingswith -CAFE AMBROSIA EMPLOYEE
a positive message.
Like, Blackalicious has got an
extremely positive message in
all of his lyrics. Things that are
showing people how it really is in
the world, rather than how it is in
this fictional hip-hop world that
newer artists have created. There
aren't really many groups that I
can't point to that put it out that
way. Binary Star is one. They
came from Plymouth, Michigan
I believe - right around here -
and played a bunch of shows."
really hear tais when
I'm at a stoplight and -ALUM
there's a car next tor
me, playing it. But one thing
I've noticed is that itcan be
people of all different ages,
sometimes it'llbe someone-
who even looks 50 years old
listening to it. But I don't
really listen to it myself, I
don't really understand it. I
can't hear it." -

"I think it's a great genre of
music. It opens up a lot of
different ways of expres-
sion for alot of different
groups than it was originally
intended for."
"Probably my favorite is
Atmosphere, from the Mid-
west. And it still falls under
the genre but it's not the kind
of subject matter that most
of hip hop and rap would be
usually associated with." 2


fan of hip.
hop, not so -ENGINEERING SOPH.
much rap, and I think
there's a real distinction
between the two. Rap is
more mainstream, while
hip hop is more construc-
tive. It's underground. It's
like the indie version of
any other type of music.
Rap is more the sugar-
pop version of other
types of music."


if the syllables
don't sing.
in poetry everything else is sec-
ondary to sound. Even a poet as
brainy and difficult as T. S. Eliot
remarked that experiencing poet-
ry is more a bodily process than
an intellectual one. This is why I
have complained about teachers
who show their students a poem
and immediately ask, "What does
it mean?"
Because the answer is always:
lots of things. For instance, when
I read this line by the new poet
laureate, W. S. Merwin:
This is the black sea-brute
bulling through wave-wrack,
The sense-maker in me tries
to grasp the literal situation - a
huge sea creature swimming -
and, an instant later, the graduate
student in me starts to recognize
that Merwin is playing on the.
alliterative verse of the Anglo-
Saxons, the meter of Beowulf.
But none of this is worth think-
ing about if the line isn't first
musical, if I don't delight to hear
the plosive B sounds urging the

Meatloaf smeatloaf
I hate meatloaf.
I may not want that read to me
on my deathbed, but I'm not about
to say it's not poetry.
As we reach adolescence, many
of us tend to care less about creat-
ing intriguing sounds than about
being understood, mostly because
we don't understand ourselves.
The poetry we write - my own
high school notebooks confirm
it - gets a bit melodramatic. We
don't want someone to ask us
what we mean; we want someone
already to understand. That need
never goes away.
By then too many of us, even
some who want to write our own
poems, have already given up on
reading poetry. What a shame
this is, because in those books
the miracle of being understood
has already quietly happened.
Someone has understood and even
made the understanding beauti-
ful, which is all a reluctant reader
could ask for, or that an aspiring
writer could hope for.
Lucas wants "Hop on Pop"
written on his tombstone. E-mail
him at dwlucas@umich.edu.

"I listen to rap from France,
Germany, the U.K. and various
parts of4frica. I think, tome,
hip hop and rap is the voice of
the youth, globally. I think it's a
powerful instrument. For exam-
ple, in countries like France, hip
hop has become the voice ofthe
"I like K'naan. Nneka, an
Afro-German rapper. Then
there's some French rap that
I enjoy. The U.K. has Dizzee
Rascal, those are some of the
artists I like."


"I don't have any prob-
lems with what they say.
It's just a form of music,
it's form of expressing
yourself. I mean, that's
how I see it."
"Nas, Mos Def,
Wu Tang ... Jay Elec-
tronica's pretty good too.
J Cole's pretty good,
definitely Eminem, Lil


"Ithink itgets abad ZANE MCCORMICK
rep because you
have people like Lil -ENGINEERING SOPH.
Wayne talking about
smoking weed and 'pussy,
pussy, pussy' all the time.
Eminem talks about how
his life is fuckedup and
how he was a drug addict
... The topics are explicit,
and I think that's why it
gets a bad rep, because it's
just stuff that people don't
want to hear about."

From Page 3B
physically write the rap, he also
needs to practice performing it, all
the while keepingthe key aspectof
flow in mind.
"Flow is something that's hard
to define," Hornstein said. "A lot
of people say that rap isn't really
a talent because you're just say-

ing the words. But really where
you can sort of tell that's not true
is that if you listen to someone
who's good at rap, you really hear
a rhythm, and people say it flows.
'Flow' is sort of the rhythmic
speaking of the words."
The freestylers, however, beg to
differ - they don't have an overly-
ing classification for the word.
"Don't know, don't think about
it. Just think it sounds cool. A
melody plus words equals 'flow,'"

Torenberg said.
"We always use it in our free-
styles. I don't think it has a defini-
tion. There's this consistent facade
of rappers saying'Oh, I got flow, you
don'tunderstand,that's howitgoes.'
Nobody knows," Koelzer added.
Torenberg's group of friends
said they do not engage in rap
"We're not too contentious
about the whole thing. It's so easy
to go up and come up with differ-

ent insults that you have in your
pocket and say them to someone
- they're pocket rhymes that you
could say to anybody," Koelzer
Hornstein does not do rap bat-
tles either - in fact, he doesn't
even do a lot of freestyling.
"I cannot freestyle. I wish I
could - I'm not that big of a free-
styler," Hornstein admitted. "By
virtue of me knowing how to rap,
I have a lot of rhymes in my head.

I can think of stuff to put in the
rhymes, but the raps don't really
make any sense."
"They talk about this a lot in the
documentary ('Freestyle'). When
someone is good at one they're not
good at the other, for some rea-
son," Torenberg said.
"With (recorded) rapping,
because you have all the time in
the world when you're writing
things down, it's more important
that you are creative than fast

about it," Hornstein said.
On the other hand, freestyling
is all about the process behind it -
no recordings, no written words,
just beats and sounds.
"For us, there is no final prod-
uct. The final product is the pro-
cess," Torenberg said. "The art
is really about bringing every-
one together. It's about creating
moments of heightened awareness
at moments where there ordinar-
ily wouldn't be."


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