Hip Hop as an Art form

Jay-Z’s work was eye-opening, and was a nice change of pace when compared to the usual unwarranted criticism of rap music. Now, there is no doubt that there is terrible rap music, whether it’s degrading to women, or enforcing drug use, but to write off all rap music is simply irrational. It is true that a lot of the mainstream songs of today’s rap genre fit the bill as being degrading and very offensive, but when one looks at Jay-Z this is simply not the case. He is using rap as a tool to express his life and the neighborhood that he grew up in. His raps are not meaningless works, thrown together overnight, but pieces that take a great deal of thought and deliberation. He is loud, he does brag, because that is the culture he grew up in, where cyphers allowed one to build reputations, and where hip hop competitions were used to push the music forward. Jay-Z is a perfect example of a passionate kid, following his dreams, who is able to reach his goals.
Although this piece was eye opening because I rarely listen to Jay-Z, it was not profound simply because I listen to rap and hip hop music myself. The hip hop I listen to is not useless degradation of women, or to promote drug use, but is poetry put to a beat. Where people rhyme in relation to the people they see on the subway, the tale of a kid who lost his dad when he was young, and sometimes political works, speaking against materialism and its consummation of American society. The point is that these works should not be written off immediately, simply because they are rhymes over a beat. Hip Hop can be an art form, and to regard it as anything less is to not only limit oneself to a musical genre, but to limit oneself to the lessons and cultural knowledge of those with different lifestyles than one’s own.


Biblical Violence

Pages 223-228

These pages depict a scene where a man accused of thievery is stoned and then set ablaze. Elvis and Redemption watch from a nearby spot, yet another time where Elvis must sit by and watch the casual violence that pervades his home.

In this book, as with many of the other pieces that we have read this semester, it seems that every sentence is packed with a reference to an outside person, event, or location. It is nearly impossible to keep up with all of these. I read the small chapter once as merely an observation by Elvis, and a second time with the various references in play. The scenes are markedly different.

First Reading: As Elvis and Redemption sit in a restaurant or café of some sort, a man (inexplicably wearing a tire as a necklace) is expelled from a nearby market for being a thief, crying for God. The mob follows him. The man, Jeremiah, responds to the claims by asking a man, Peter, to vouch for him, to verify his story that Peter owed him money. Peter calls him a liar and throws a stone at him, which Elvis describes as “comically biblical, yet purely animal” (225). The man implores that his is not a thief, but is instead a carpenter. The crowd begins hurling stones at him. Elvis asks Redemption why this is happening. Redemption answers with a Bob Marley quotation about the nature of hungry men. Elvis overhears a conversation in which a pair speculates about Jeremiah’s true crime. One claims that he must have molested a child. When Jeremiah awakes, the crowd pours petrol over him and lights the tire on fire. Redemption calls this the necklace of fire, a term which Elvis feels sounds “so sensual it made him shudder” (228). He is then chased into the adjacent timber yard by the prodding of two men holding two long wooden planks.

References:

Jeremiah: Jeremiah was a prophet who suffered greatly as he attempted to spread the word of God. In lamentations he said “I have been hunted like a bird by those who were my enemies without cause; they flung me alive into the pit and cast stones on me; water closed over my head; I said, `I am lost.’” (Lamentations, 3:49-55)

Peter: Peter was one of Jesus’ apostles and revered saint.

Carpenter: Jesus himself was a carpenter.

Crying for God/molested a child: There are many examples of stoning in the Bible, the reasons for which are very varied but include blasphemy (showing contempt or lack of reverence for God) and sexual molestation.

Bob Marley: Bob Marley was an influential musician as well as Rastafarian, a religion that promoted the idea of Afrocentricsm.

Necklace of fire: Necklacing is a common lynching technic seen mostly in South Africa.

Two long wooden planks: Jesus was crucified on two long wooden planks.

 

Second reading: The people take the side of the established saint over the mistrusted prophet. They stone him for suspected sexual misconduct and blasphemous behavior. Redemption reflects on the nature of the African people and their place in the world. And next to all of the Biblical references is an example of human cruelty, lynching.


Indira Ghandi and the “Emergency”

Indira Ghandi was the third Prime Minister of India.  She ruled over India, a democracy, four times between the years of 1966 and 1984.  Her rule was undoubtedly controversial due to the events that took place between June 26, 1975 and March 23, 1977.  This period of time can be identified as the Emergency.

Indira ran for the position of Prime Minister again in the 1971 elections under the Allahabad High Court.  The campaign theme she used claimed to have a theme of decreasing poverty and bettering the lives of those living in poverty in India.  She funded this campaign through New Delhi and the Indian National Congress Party.  Indira Ghandi won the election.  Soon after winning though, there was a political uproar in India which claimed that Indira was guilty of using government machinery in order to propel her campaign.  The funds which she had been using were barely allocated toward the caused which she claimed they were being donated toward.  Her election was declared void on the grounds of electoral malpractice, and she was ordered to be removed from her seat and suspended from running for election for six years.  Indira Ghandi did not like this one bit, and she opposed the claims and denied the criticisms.  Her party backed her up, as well as many other supporters.  Indira was allowed to withhold her position of Prime Minister, and those who opposed this decision flew into a rage.

At this point, it is recommended to Indira that she impose a state of emergency under which she will rule by decree.  It is then, on June 26, 1975, that India is thrown into utter political upheaval.  Ghandi implements the following over the course of the next two years: 1. She arrests any and all who oppose her rule and throws them in jail without alerting their families of the arrest. 2.  She inflicts serious abuse and torture upon such political prisoners.  3.  She uses national television and other public means of communication for personal political propaganda. 4.  She forces sterilization, specifically vasectomies, upon people in an effort to stifle the overpopulation. 5. She destroys the Indian slum and most other low-income housing. 6. She implements large-scale and illegal enactment of laws. It is chaos.

The Emergency officially ends on March 23, 1977 when Ghandi releases all political prisoners and announces fresh elections for that March.   Read the rest of this entry »


Indira Gandhi and the Indian Emergency

Indira Gandhi was the third Prime Minister of independent India, serving three terms from 1966 to 1984, non-consecutively. She was a political legacy, being the only child born of the first Prime Minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru. During her time in Parliament, Indira Gandhi was more liberal, leading the socialist-leaning politicians. For example, she strengthened Indian/Soviet relationships.

As Indian’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi took major steps towards developing India. She authorized the development of nuclear weapons. When the word spread about this development and tensions rose with neighboring countries, Indira Gandhi released a statement saying that nuclear development was for industrial and scientific purposes only. Gandhi also headed the Green Revolution. This was aimed at solving the problem of feeding the urban population as well as decreasing Indian dependence on the United States. During the Green Revolution, India turned to a country with an exportable product. It is said that Indira Gandhi and Richard Nixon were not too fond of each other either. Indira Gandhi also nationalized fourteen of the major banks of the time to encourage economic development. This step ended up being very successful, especially in rural areas. Indira Gandhi also declared a State of Emergency in 1975. She was assassinated by her own bodyguards on October 31st, 1984.

The Indian Emergency was a 21 month-long period from 1975 to 1977 that was requested by Indira Gandhi. The government of India cited the recent war with Pakistan, the drought, the oil crisis, and the continuing strikes and protests as “imminent danger to the security of India” and thus reasons for the declaration of a state of emergency. The State of Emergency granted Gandhi power to “rule by decree”. She employed the police forces across the country to place protestors under arrest. By the end of the Emergency, 140,00 were arrested with trial. All elections in the country were postponed. Gandhi and her political majority were able to rewrite laws with little opposition while Gandhi, as Prime Minister, was able to single-handedly bypass law-making procedures and issue “Ordinances” which stood as law during the Emergency. There were also coerced sterilizations to curb India’s rate of population growth.

Some supported the institution of the Emergency, such as Mother Teresa and prominent politicians around the world who stated that it was necessary to the economic survival of India was well. The people of India, did not support the suspension of their civil liberties. On the first day of the Emergency in the Bombay edition of The Times of India in the obituaries section, it read “D.E.M. O’Cracy beloved husband of T. Ruth, father of L.I. Bertie, brother of Faith, Hope, and Justica expired on June 26”.


Beantown

Rubber wheels hurrying across the avenue
Late night scavengers on Bay State Road
Why yes,
“We are the 99%”

All of the people
All of the drumming
And still,
I can dream loudly


Across

Ponytail whips my neck

Left right

Right left

Hungry taxi breathes on my calves

Green yellow

Yellow red


Poetic Reflection

Boston

There it is, right outside

Endless opportunity

Infinite possibilities

All outside my window…

Well, back to Netflix.


Midwest to East.

Both Boston and Chicago are very similar.

Even have the same weather and same noise.

But Chicago may have cuter boys.

While Boston has a different perimeter.

 

 

Both Boston and Chicago is where I belong.

Even though sometimes I may miss my family.

But we will see if i can keep my sanity.

While I’ll see how this year goes along.

 


To Boston

To my dear City,

Now I lay at night,

Swarthed in the blanket of your aesthetics

Breathing in the sound of your cars

As they shuffle across your giant arm called Mass Pike

 

My dear City,

I walk during days now,

Weaving through your intricacy–like a pattern,

Alongside a green streetcar named

This Isn’t the Midwest


Poem Reflection

The sky is quiet,

The road’s alive,

A flash of lights here;                     a base thumping there,

The rhythm is unpredictable.

The city never sleeps.