Monday, January 31, 2011

Everbody Loves Rhyme, Man

Image: The March Hare and Dodo, one of the Alice in Wonderland stained-glass windows in the All Saints' Church, Daresbury, England, via Vitreosity (cool blog about stained glass)

i. My First Lines

Rx for stiff writing brain: rhythm and rhyme.

I want to write some rap based on my geography books. I loved working on them, but the end results had to be dry. I want to juice them up, for fun.

bink can rhyme a million times faster than me (makes me mad). Trouble is, I don't hear words as sound, I hear them as ideas.
So when I sat down to rhyme "gross domestic product"--admittedly not an easy first rhyme--I kept thinking about millet or steel.

I had to chant the phrase out loud to myself over and over to HEAR it.
It took me hours to come up with three rhymes.
Here they are.

gross domestic product
pope's fantastic Prada

gross domestic product
nose don't lick a poor fuck

gross domestic product
dodo's nest tick prodder [this is my favorite]

Not sure where I'd go from there, but rhyme can be an end in itself, like this fun nonsense rap "Alphabet Aerobics" by Blackalicious.

ii. R.A.P. "Rhythm And Poetry"

Everybody loves rhyme (maybe), but not everybody loves rap.

I ran into my pal Terry at the library, where I was checking out How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip Hop MC, by Paul Edwards (2009) (links to the book's site, which has about 100 links to tracks on youTube--what a find for a beginner like me).

I told him I want to learn how to rap.

He looked at me, shocked, and this generous, generally open-minded guy said,
"When do you have to get back to the home, for your meds?"

I told him rap wasn't all nasty; lots of it is crazy inventive word play expressing a joyous life force or honestly calling out the hard stuff.

Well, he said, he'd heard two little boys rapping on the sidewalk,
"I'm gonna have some fun,
shoot you in the face with a B.B. gun."

Yeah, it can be like that, but that's not its necessary nature. Tish Jones says its fundamentals are Rhythm And Poetry.
"I mean, let's rewrite that," I said, "I'm gonna have some fun..."

He finished, "Go to Jamaica, sit in the sun..."

"Drink some rum," I added. "Well, that doesn't really rhyme..."

"It doesn't have to!" he said, instantly getting into it. And he admitted he didn't really know rap.
Neither do I, but rhythm and rhyme... it's like the brain's breathing deep, pushing out against its limits.
I love that.

iii. art in the dark
Terry's response is pretty typical, in my experience.
The last time I got such horrified reactions to a pursuit of mine is when I joined the Catholic Church.

In both cases, those reactions aren't altogether wrong--the Church and rap have misogynistic and violent histories. But they're also thrumming with life force and creative energy out the whazoo.
You aren't going to find any worthwhile human endeavor that doesn't have its dark side because that's who we humans are.

I like art from the dark, anyway, because I've been there. Haven't we all, to some extent?
Like gun violence...
My mother shot herself in the head with a gun, so I get that, I welcome raw poetry about that kind of thing.
Life can be that bad, it can be that ugly. That's not unusual.

There're all kinds of ghettos we make for ourselves and each other, and all kinds of ways to break out of them.


momo said...

I vote for "pope's fantastic Prada"!

Dessa (of the Doomtree collective) teaches classes at McNally Smith on hip hop and rhyming. You should her out if you haven't already.

Margaret said...

fresh salmon san francisco freska!
I love how you're being so interactive with this!

Do you know Macklemore?
He's a rapper out of Seattle, not very well known yet. He raps about writing rap and filters everything through personal history, which I like. You should check out his songs "My Language" & "I Said Hey".
"Ego" is good too.

You know how I said there were no good raps about Captain Kirk?

If the Gorn were to rap about Kirk . . .

I was born into sand /
I'd never seen a human hand /
In all the stories I was told /
there'd been no mention of the color gold /

I cooked your breakfast on a rock /
And you kept talking about Spock /
I may be green but I'm not dumb /
when I tried to kiss you, you were numb /


Margaret said...

Macklemore has a song called "Inhale Deep".

I'm not really behind the "every struggle in life is there to teach you a lesson" thing, but fear clogging up creativity resonates with me:

"It’s been three years since my first album dropped /
And it’s been fear that’s really got me stuck in this spot /
Not wanting to put out anything wack"

and then

"Massive struggle - that's natural . . . "


Clowncar said...

just love the alice stained glass.

I remeber mentioning in an email that my blog post tend to get too sentimental, that they don't dig deep enough. digging deeper usually mean darker. but more truthful. and thus more liberating, to both you and the reader.

Anonymous said...

Haven't even finished reading this yet... but, just came up with "toastin' mastic mock duck" to kindarhyme with "gross domestic product". (Thanks to Mr. Bob Dylan; s. o.'s toasted mock duck reuben sammie from brunch @ Seward Co-op on Sunday--[tryin' to get his cholesterol 3s just hunky-dory!]; and livin' on real mastic as part of my poor student staple diet when I lived on Lesbos). Also, read a book called STILL SHE HAUNTS ME, a novlella about Charles Dodson by Anne Roiphe's daughter, whose first name I just can't remember.
I feel words as sound/meaning/shadows and light and emotion--which gets me inot trouble sometimes, like today with taking notes in transliterated Yiddish; my mind and heart were8-tracking!! Like being on drugs with Dr. Suess and Gilbert and Sullivan which I heard from the time I was born, I think.
Now to finish reading this wonderment and rehearse.



Charles said...

Just found ur blog tonight. Might b a bit emotional today but I loved it and wanted to thank u for your intelligence and everything u share.


Fresca said...

MOMO: I don't know her, will look into it.

MARZ: Don't know your guy either, but will check him out too.

I love your gorn rap!!! I laughed, but it was poignant too... (Really.)
Spain: Trek Rap on the Road!

STEF: Get outta here, I hate you, coming up with such a hilarious and WORKING rhyme, just like that, when it took me hours to come up with some lame ones!!!
"toastin' mastic mock duck"
But I'm coming to see you sing on Saturday anyway!

CHARLES: Hey, thanks for saying so! And welcome.

Fresca said...

CLOWN: Mmm, yeah, shaking off the sentimental often means going deeper into the dark, but for me, it also means expanding in EVERY direction, up into the light too.
I also want to express faith, hope, and love in ways that aren't cloyingly sentimental either...

Sometimes that's even harder!

Anyway, yeah, they are linked.

bink said...

Kudos to Marz for the Gorn rap. Here's the rap of a jealous Mugatu.

Mugatu got no love
from Kirk who stands above.
He holds the Gorn so tight
but he doesn't like my bite.

What's Scales got
that I do not?
He's green and shiny,
my horns are spiny.

My thick white fur
doesn't make Kirk purr.
If he'd just give me a nibble
I'd give him my kibble.

Lee said...

How about:

Gross Domestic Product
Is America’s Roman aqueduct

Fresca said...

bink: You slay me!

LEE: aqueduct! good one