Classic Lyrical Cage Match…

Me and my lady’s dad go at it from time to time because he is a classic jazz aficionado and I of course, am not. One thing we both agree on however is that John Coltrane was a gift from God. Coltrane was a consummate artist whose work ethic was nothing short of ridiculous. ‘Trane was enveloped by his art and cared nothing for the fame and trappings that came with popularity. Dude was also just a beast on the saxophone. If you haven’t ever fucked with any John Coltrane music do yourself a favor and open up some of that shit. You won’t be disappointed, unless you are a retahd.

Our argument, rather discussion this weekend centered around the excellent poetry contained in Hip-Hop lyrics. My talking points dealt with rap music’s employment of poetic conceits to describe things like wealth, women, drugs, etc. His argument was that rap does little more than to describe things in order to sell shit. He declared that rap music lacked the ability to describe society the way that poetry does because the use of music negates and meaning to the lyrics. He argued that the purpose of music was to make you dance and not make you listen so therefore any statements that were important were being issued to deaf ears. I corrected him by saying that deaf was actually spelled ‘Def’. He had no idea what the eff I was talking about.

Now while I would generally agree with his overall assessment of rap music in that it is used to sell things to people, from actual products like Courvosier, to more esoteric items like lifestyle choices, when Hip-Hop has attacked social injustice it has done so with aplomb and success. Furthermore, classic poetry itself has been lent to musical accompaniment and that has not diluted its message or intent. I decided I would take a minute to extract some classic poetry that was shaped for musical presentation and compare it with some rap lyrics that I consider a great socially relevant poem. I pulled up some of James Langston Hughes collected works since my lady’s dad made a book with him fifty years ago called ‘The Sweet Flypaper of Life’. The piece I used as an example of the musical nature of poetry is called ‘Po Boys’ Blues’

When I was home de
Sunshine seemed like gold.
When I was home de
Sunshine seemed like gold.
Since I come up North de
Whole damn world’s turned cold.

I was a good boy,
Never done no wrong.
Yes, I was a good boy,
Never done no wrong,
But this world is weary
An’ de road is hard an’ long.

I fell in love with
A gal I thought was kind.
Fell in love with
A gal I thought was kind.
She made me lose ma money
An’ almost lose ma mind.

Weary, weary,
Weary early in de morn.
Weary, weary,
Early, early in de morn.
I’s so weary
I wish I’d never been born.

This is a blues song if I have ever heard one. As a matter of fact I can hear Muddy Waters already on the hook singing this joint. Blues songs love to repeat their refrains to drive home the central idea that the story they are relating is really fucked the fuck up. I chose a blues song for my Hip-Hop entry as well. Blues songs lyrics are clearly where popular American music gets its DNA from. From the chanted call and response to the repeated rhyming patterns which are all Blues innovations.

Especially considering the themes of love, loss, reconciliation and redemption when they are contained in one song owe their roots to the history of storytelling from Africa. The Hip-Hop song I used as my example was the final stanza from Melle Mel’s universal ghetto classic – ‘The Message’.

A child is born with no state of mind,
blind to the ways of mankind.
God is smiling on you but he’s frowning too,
because only God knows what you’ll go through.
You’ll grow in the ghetto, live as second rate,
and your eyes will sing a song of deep hate.
The places you play and where you stay,
looks like one great big alley way.

You’ll admire all the number book takers,
thugs, pimps, and pushers and the big money makers.
Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens,
and you wanna grow up to be just like them.
Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers,
pickpockets, peddlers, even panhandlers.
You say, “I’m cool, hell I’m no fool!”,
but then you wind up dropping out of high school.
So now you’re unemployed, all null and void,
still you’re walking around like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd.
Turned stickup-kid, and look what you’ve done did?
Got sent up for a eight year bid.

Now your manhood is took and you’re a May-Tag.
You spend the next two years as an undercover fag
Being used and abused, and served like hell.
Until one day you were found hung dead in your cell.
It was plain to see that your life was lost.
You were cold while your body swung back and forth.
So now your eyes just sing the sad, sad song,
of how you lived so fast, and died so young.

You can’t tell me that shit isn’t everlasting fire. Ha! I beat the old man this time. This joint is on some profound ‘Strange Fruit’ type shit. At its height, Hip-Hop tells a truth that gives knowledge and empowerment to those that heed its message.

What classic poetry would you choose?
Which Hip-Hop song would you select as a comparison?

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  • greyskull

    I agree. Another interesting comparison would Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Ghostface. Kubla Khan vs Nutmeg?

  • Fire

    This is an awesome post. All hip hop haters need to read this to understand the commonalities between hip hop and poetry, as they are very evident to all but the most shortsighted, ignorant, and close minded of people. Nice Muddy Waters reference.

    FYI: Not all young kids are completely ignorant of the past. I’m 18 and I feel this more than most of what comes out today.



  • Turd Ferguson

    The new moon rode high in the crown of the metropolis
    Like, “Who on top of this?”
    People was tussling, arguing and bustling
    Gangsters of Gotham
    Hardcore hustling
    I’m wrestling with words and ideas
    My ears is pricked
    Seeking what will transmit
    The scribes can apply to transcript
    This ain’t no time where the usual is suitable
    Tonight alive let’s describe the inscrutable
    The indisputable
    We New York the narcotic
    Draped in metal and fiber optics
    Where mercenaries is paid to trade hot stock tips
    For profits
    Thirsty criminals pick pockets
    Hard knuckles on the second hands of working class watches
    Skyscrapers is colossus
    The cost of living is preposterous
    To stay alive you play or die no options
    No Batman and Robin
    Can’t tell between the cops and the robbers
    They both partners
    They all heartless
    With no conscience
    Back streets stay darkened
    Where unbeliever hearts stay hardened
    My eagle talons stay sharpened
    Like city lights stay throbbing
    You either make a way or stay sobbing
    The shiny Apple is bruised but sweet
    And if you choose to eat
    You could lose your teeth
    Many crews retreat
    Nightly news repeat
    Who got shot down and locked down
    Spotlight to savages
    NASDAQ averages
    My narrative
    Rose to explain this existence
    Amidst the harbor lights which remain in the distance

    So much on my mind that I can’t recline
    Blasted holes in the night till she bled sunshine
    Breathe in
    Inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
    Breathe out
    Weed smoke retrace the skyline
    Heard the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
    I can’t take it y’all
    I can feel the city breathing
    Chest heaving
    Against the flesh of the evening
    Sigh before it die like the last train leaving

    -Poetry by Mos Def

  • ri067953

    Yo, all the verses from “Respiration” on the Blackstar album are considered poetry to me. I feel like I am New York city when I listen to that song. Talib’s Verse in particular. “Breathin in deep city breaths, sittin on shitty steps
    we stoop to new lows, hell froze the night the city slept
    The beast crept through concrete jungles
    communicatin with one another
    And ghetto birds where waters fall
    from the hydrants to the gutters
    The beast walk the beats, but the beats we be makin
    You on the wrong side of the track, lookin visibly shaken
    Taken them plungers, plungin to death that’s painted by the numbers
    with crime unapplied pressure, cats is playin God
    but havin children by a lesser baby mother but fuck it
    we played against each other like puppets, swearin you got pull
    when the only pull you got is the wool over your eyes
    Gettin knowledge in jail like a blessing in disguise
    Look in the skies for God, what you see besides the smog
    is broken dreams flying away on the wings of the obscene
    Thoughts that people put in the air
    Places where you could get murdered over a glare
    But everything is fair
    It’s a paradox we call reality
    So keepin it real will make you casualty of abnormal normality
    Killers Born Naturally like, Mickey and Mallory
    Not knowing the ways’ll get you capped like an NBA salary
    Some cats be emceeing to illustrate what we be seeing
    Hard to be a spiritual being when shit is shakin what you believe in
    For trees to grow in Brooklyn, seeds need to be planted
    I’m asking if y’all feel me AND THE CROWD LEFT ME STRANDED
    My blood pressure boiled and rose, cause New York niggaz
    actin spoiled at shows, to the winners the spoils go
    I take the L, transfer to the 2, head to the gates
    New York life type trife the Roman Empire state.”

    Yo, how ill is that verse?

  • Billy X. Sunday

    Southern trees bear strange fruit,
    Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
    Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
    Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

    Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
    The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
    Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
    Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

    Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
    For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
    For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
    Here is a strange and bitter crop.

    ‘Strange Fruit’ by Lewis Allen

    • Around and Around

      Dam that’s raw

  • Casso

    I owe you an apology Billy Sunday. I left a shitty comment on your last post (Blogging Angel of Death). It was the only one of your posts I’d ever read, and I commented prematurely.

    This post is brilliant. I think it elevates what little discourse there is in hip hop. Several of your other posts, including the one on Wu Tang’s new album, are just as on point.

    Much respect.


    A future in a maximum state pen is grim,
    so I comes back home.
    Nobody’s out but shorty doo-wop
    Rollin two Phillies together, in the Bridge we call ‘em oo-wops.
    He said, “Nas, niggaz could be bustin’ off the roof,
    so I wear a bullet proof and pack a black tres-deuce”

    He inhaled so deep, shut his eyes like he was sleep;started coughing when I peeked to watch me speak.
    I sat back like the mack, my army suit was black.
    We was chillin’ on these benches where he pumped his loose cracks.

    I took the L when he passed it.
    This little bastard, keeps me blasted and starts talkin mad shit.
    I had to school him; told him don’t let niggaz fool him.
    Cause when the pistol blows, the one that’s murdered be the cool one.
    Tough luck when niggaz are struck, families fucked up.
    Could’ve caught your man, but didn’t look when you bucked up.
    Mistakes happen, so take heed never bust up
    at the crowd; catch him solo, make the right man bleed.

    Shorty’s laugh was cold blooded as he spoke so foul.
    Only twelve trying to tell me that he liked my style.
    Then I rose, wiping the blunts ash from my clothes.
    Then froze.
    only to blow the herb smoke through my nose.

    And told my little man that I’m a ghost I prose.
    Left some jewels and a skull that he could sell if he chose.
    Words of wisdom from Nas, try to rise up above.
    Keep an eye out for jake, shorty wop.
    One love.

  • havoc

    Sentence begins indented with formality
    My duration’s infinite, moneywise or physiology
    Poetry, that’s a part of me, retardedly bop
    I drop the ancient manifested hip-hop, straight off the block

    “memory lane”, nas

  • white widow maker

    Some say niggaz is hard headed cause we love to trick
    Equipped with game so we bang wit this thuggish shit
    I see you trying to hide
    Hoping that nobody don’t notice
    You must always remember you still a member of the hopeless
    See ya black like me
    So you snap like me
    When these devils try to plot
    Trap our young black seeds
    Look it
    Cops are just as crooked as the niggas they chasin’
    Lookin’ for role models
    Our father figures is bases
    Some say they expect Illuminati take my body to sleep
    Niggas at the party with they shotties
    Just as rowdy as me
    Before I flee computer chips
    I gotta deal wit brothas flippin
    I don’t see no devils bleedin’
    Only black blood drippin
    We can change
    Whatcha now say?
    I’m watchin niggaz work their lives out without pay (huh)
    Whatever it takes to switch places wit the bustas on top
    I’m bustin’ shots make the world stop
    They don’t give a fuck about us
    I’m seeing it clearer
    Hating the picture in the mirror
    They claim we inferior
    So why the fuck these devils fear ya?
    I’m watching my nation die genocide the cause
    Expect a blood bath
    The aftermath is y’alls
    I told ya last album, we need help cause we dying
    Give us a chance, help us advance cause we trying
    Ignore my whole plea, watching us in disgust
    And then they beg when my guns bust
    They don’t give a fuck about us

  • stoned cold

    You gotta live it to feel it, you didn’t you wouldn’t get it
    Or see what the big deal is, why it wasn’t the skillest
    To be walkin this borderline of Detroit city limits
    It’s different, it’s a certain significance, a certificate
    of authenticity, you’d never even see
    But it’s everything to me, it’s my credibility
    You never seen heard smelled or met a real MC
    who’s incredible upon the same pedestal as me
    But yet I’m still unsigned, havin a rough time
    Sit on the porch with all my friends and kick dumb rhymes
    Go to work and serve MC’s in the lunchline
    But when it comes crunch time, where do my punchlines go
    Who must I show, to bust my flow
    Where must I go, who must I know
    Or am I just another crab in the bucket
    Cause I ain’t havin no luck with this little Rabbit so fuck it
    Maybe I need a new outlet, I’m startin to doubt shit
    I’m feelin a little skeptical who I hang out with
    I look like a bum, yo my clothes ain’t about shit
    At the Salvation Army tryin to salvage an outfit
    And it’s cold, tryin to travel this road
    Plus I feel like I’m on stuck in this battlin mode
    My defenses are so up, but one thing I don’t want
    is pity from no one, the city is no fun
    There is no sun, and it’s so dark
    Sometimes I feel like I’m just bein pulled apart
    From each one of my limbs, by each on of my friends
    It’s enough to just make me wanna jump out of my skin
    Sometimes I feel like a robot, sometimes I just know not
    what I’m doin I just blow, my head is a stove top
    I just explode, the kettle gets so hot
    Sometimes my mouth just overloads the ass that I don’t got
    But I’ve learned, it’s time for me to U-turn
    Yo it only takes one time for me to get burned
    Ain’t no fallin no next time I meet a new girl
    I can no longer play stupid or be immature
    I got every ingredient, all I need is the courage
    Like I already got the beat, all I need is the words
    Got the urge, suddenly it’s a surge
    Suddenly a new burst of energy is occured
    Time to show these free world leaders the three and a third
    I am no longer scared now, I’m free as a bird
    Then I turn and cross over the median curb
    Hit the ‘burbs and all you see is a blur from 8 Mile Road

  • allnice

    Wow Melle Mel’s lyrics are ten times grittier then modern hip hop punchline drunk verses. Hip Hop takes the place of poetry. Poems are old and hip hop is the future. Also just because hip hop is often used to sell things doesn’t make the lyrics any less powerful ie relevant. I don’t think anyone can argue that Jay-Z is a dominant, poetical lyricist despite his tendacy to spit about name brand products we don’t need. Too bad he limits himself to being just a hustler disguised as a rapper…how lame was that line…….

  • stoned cold

    this is one of the best posts i’ve read by you, off the chain, my negro amigo

  • Billy X. Sunday

    Selfish desires are burning like fires
    among those who hoard the gold
    As the continue to keep the people asleep
    and the truth from being told
    Racism and greed keep the people in need
    from getting what’s rightfully theirs
    Cheating, stealin and double dealing
    as they exploit the peoples fears

    Now, Dow Jones owns the people’s homes
    and all the surrounding land
    Buying and selling their humble dwelling
    in the name of the Master Plan

    Cause paper money is like a bee without honey
    with no stinger to back him up
    and those who stole the people’s gold
    are definitely corrupt

    Credit cards, master charge, legacies of wills
    real-estate, stocks and bonds on coupon paper bills
    Now the US mints on paper prints, millions every day
    and use the eagle as their symbol cause it’s a bird of prey

    The laurels of peace and the arrows of wars
    are clutched very tightly in the eagles claws
    filled with greed and lust,
    and on the back of the dollar bill,
    is the words IN GOD WE TRUST

    But the dollar bill is their only God
    and they don’t even trust each other
    for a few dollars more they’d start a war
    to exploit some brother’s mother
    Then there’s the pyramid, that stands by itself
    created by Black people’s knowledge and wealth
    and over the pyramid hangs the devil’s eye
    that stole from the truth and created the lie

    Now Annuit means and endless amount stolen over the years
    and Coeptis means a new empire of vampire millionaires
    And Novus is a Latin word meaning something new
    an Ordo means a way of life chosen by a few
    Seclorum is a word that means to take from another
    knowledge, wisdom and understanding stolen from the brother

    Roman numerals on the base of the pyramid’s face
    tell the date they began to exist
    when they established this branch of hell
    in seventeen-seventy-six

    Now there are thirteen layers of stone of the pyramid alone
    an unfinished work of art
    for thirty-three and a third is as high as a mason can go
    without falling apart

    Thirteen stars in the original flag!
    Thirteen demons from the Devil’s bag!
    Thirteen berries and thirteen leaves!
    Thirteen colonies of land-grabbing thieves!
    Thirteen arrows in the eagle’s claws!
    Sixty-seven corporations wage the Devil’s wars!
    Thirteen stripes on the eagle’s shield!
    And these are the symbols on the US seal!

    Now on the front of the dollar bill
    to the right of Washington’s head
    is a small seal in the shape of a wheel
    with the secret that’s been left unsaid
    The symbols in the middle represent the riddle
    of the scales, the ruler and the key;
    the square rule is a symbol
    from the craft of masonry
    The scales represent Libra
    the balance of the seventh sign
    They also represent the Just-Us
    which you and I know is blind
    The key unlocks the mysteries
    of the secrets of the seal
    So that only the Govern-u-men
    would know what they reveal

    The four words apart form the last parts of
    the secrets of the seal
    and tells how they fooled the people
    into thinking paper money was real!

    Now, Thesaur means the treasury
    where they store the gold they stole
    and Amer means to punish
    like the slaves they bought and sold
    Then Septent means seven
    like seventeen-seventy-six
    when the thirteen devils gathered
    to unleash their bag of tricks
    The Sigel means the images
    they’ve created to fool the world
    like the colors on Old Glory
    the flag that they unfurled

    Now the red was the color of the Indian man
    White was the devil’s who stole the land
    Blue was the eyes that hypnotized
    with the tricks and traps they sprung
    and even to this very same day
    they all speak with forked tongue!
    And so the power is in the hand of the ruling classes
    playing god with the fate of all the masses
    so the people don’t get any in the land of the plenty
    because E Pluribus Unum means One Out Of Many

    ‘E Pluribus Unum’ – The Last Poets

  • LowEndofDaChi

    Dope read, Billy.

    A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes

    What happens to a dream deferred?
    Does it dry up
    Like a raisin in the sun?
    Or fester like a sore–
    And then run?
    Does it stink like rotten meat?
    Or crust and sugar over–
    like a syrupy sweet?
    Maybe it just sags
    like a heavy load.
    Or does it explode?

    Iron Galaxy Vast Air of Cannibal Ox

    And if there’s crack in a basement
    Crack heads stand adjacent
    Anger displacement
    Two step arangements
    You were a still born baby
    Mother didn’t want you, but you were still born
    Boy meets world, of course his pops is gone
    What you figga
    That chalky outline on the ground is a father figure
    So he steps to the next stencil, that’s a hustler
    Infested with money and diamond cluster
    Lets talk in laymen terms
    Rotten apples and big worms
    Early birds and poachers
    New York is evil at it’s core, so those who have more than them
    Prepare to be vic-tims
    Ate up by vultures, the politicians
    In a dog eat dog culture, that’ll sick ‘em
    Lack of mineral, we take it personal
    A pigeon can’t drop shit if it never flew
    Every day is no frills, empty krills
    Broken 40 bottles and m.c’s with skills
    I rest my head on 115
    But miracles only happen on 34th, so I guess life is mean
    And death is the median
    And purgatory is the mode that we settle in
    “No doubt”
    I’ve got that Eve’s Bayou sense of touch
    So I fought, to touch every hand of a fan to read their thoughts
    Battered wives, molested children
    Roaches on the floor, rats in the ceiling
    Cats walk around New York with two fillin’s
    One is in their mouth the other, does the killin’
    I’m Vast Air, Kramer, top billin’

  • EReal

    Sometimes you gotta dig deep, when problems come near
    Don’t fear things get severe for everybody everywhere
    Why do bad things happen, to good people?
    Seems that life is just a constant war between good and evil
    The situation that I’m facin, is mad amazin
    to think such problems can arise from minor confrontations
    Now I’m contemplatin in my bedroom pacin
    Dark clouds over my head, my heart’s racin
    Suicide? Nah, I’m not a foolish guy
    Don’t even feel like drinking, or even gettin high
    Cause all that’s gonna do really, is accelerate
    the anxieties that I wish I could alleviate
    But wait, I’ve been through a whole lot of other shit, before
    So I oughta be able, to withstand some more
    But I’m sweatin though, my eyes are turnin red and yo
    I’m ready to lose my mind but instead I use my mind
    I put down the knife, and take the bullets out my nine
    My only crime, was that I’m too damn kind
    And now some skanless motherfuckers wanna take what’s mine
    But they can’t take the respect, that I’ve earned in my lifetime
    And you know they’ll never stop the furious force of my rhymes
    So like they say, every dog has it’s day
    And like they say, God works in a mysterious way
    So I pray, remembering the days of my youth
    As I prepare to meet my moment of truth

    The GURU – Moment of Truth

  • EReal


    and I usually dont use all caps, so Im serious.

    Immortal Technique, disintegrates mic’s when I spit
    I cause more casualties than sunken slave ships
    Full to capacity, I bring tragedy to rap without my man Kadafi
    The government took Nazi scientists from Germany
    To design nuclear rockets and ways of observin’ me
    ‘Cause their pathetic attempts, didn’t work to murder me
    When this country was conceived, these bastards never heard of me
    But now I hold the souls of slave masters eternally
    Bleeding internally, burnin’ D, durin’ surgery, verbally
    ‘Cause I’m a spiritual witch
    Devils are incompatible
    I’ve been around since the planet was inhabitable
    I spit in the ocean and created microscopic animals
    Which involved into two species, the righteous and the cannibals
    But until then, I had alien women suck me off
    When God said “Let there be light”, I turned it the fuck off
    And that’s the reason that the earth is only 5 billion years old
    I made the sun shine, and permitted time to unfold
    The surface was lava, but when I stepped down, it became cold
    Fuck what you’ve been told
    My spiritual form became a swarm of molecule sickness
    Manifested liquid trapped inside a mountainous region
    Until the skies starting raining, continuous seasons
    Immortal Technique, at long last, reincarnated
    Undebatably reinstated to leave you decapitated
    ???, but my crazy words make sense
    I’ll split every pound of your body into six pence
    I’m sick of simple similes about The Sixth Sense
    I’ll leave your body drenched in the blood of all your ancestors
    You’ll never be at peace, like the souls of child molestors
    I’ll cut you and bless your festering wounds with alcohol
    Drown you in a clogged toilet, in a public bathroom stall
    I’ll rip you down, take a chunk of you home like the Berlin Wall
    This is the final call, for all the rappers that wanna brawl
    Immortal Technique, the wrong motherfucker to diss
    ‘Cause I allow God to let you motherfuckers exist

    Hahahahaha yeah, real oh
    We about to crash somethin’ now, yo
    Yo, yo, yo
    I’m the stronghold on your neck that doesn’t let you breathe
    Stronger than the fake image of God in which you believe
    More dangerous than your ignorant ass could ever percieve
    A European virus, mutated in Africa, overseas
    Transported by mosquitoes and fleas to where you live
    So lock yourself in your house with your wife and your kids
    You’re such a bitch, somebody probably made you out of a rib
    My arrest record just scratches the surface of what I did
    My bid locked me up and brought my life to an end
    I was forgotten, abandoned by my bitches and friends
    You don’t want beef with people like me so don’t pretend
    I’ll resurrect your aborted baby and kill it again
    You get no props in hip-hop like feminine men
    I’m iller than any plague God gave Moses to send
    You wanna make amends, ’cause I’m the reason that the earth shakes
    Burying your fam like Central American earthquakes

  • Turd Ferguson

    Conscience is instinct bred in the house,
    Feeling and Thinking propagate the sin
    By an unnatural breeding in and in.
    I say, Turn it out doors,
    Into the moors.
    I love a life whose plot is simple,
    And does not thicken with every pimple,
    A soul so sound no sickly conscience binds it,
    That makes the universe no worse than ‘t finds it.
    I love an earnest soul,
    Whose mighty joy and sorrow
    Are not drowned in a bowl,
    And brought to life to-morrow;
    That lives one tragedy,
    And not seventy;
    A conscience worth keeping;
    Laughing not weeping;
    A conscience wise and steady,
    And forever ready;
    Not changing with events,
    Dealing in compliments;
    A conscience exercised about
    Large things, where one may doubt.
    I love a soul not all of wood,
    Predestinated to be good,
    But true to the backbone
    Unto itself alone,
    And false to none;
    Born to its own affairs,
    Its own joys and own cares;
    By whom the work which God begun
    Is finished, and not undone;
    Taken up where he left off,
    Whether to worship or to scoff;
    If not good, why then evil,
    If not good god, good devil.
    Goodness! you hypocrite, come out of that,
    Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.
    I have no patience towards
    Such conscientious cowards.
    Give me simple laboring folk,
    Who love their work,
    Whose virtue is song
    To cheer God along.

    - Henry David Thoreau, Conscience


    In no fashion
    Have I lost my passion
    For the pen
    It’s just that lately
    Life has been a lost less inspiring
    To tell you the truth
    Trials and tribulations is very tiring
    I gotta play a little game of
    Gimmick and gun firing
    I’m not aspiring
    To be any lower or higher than
    I get equal
    As in
    Eye to eye again
    I’m the truth
    I’m complicated
    I’m already
    But try again
    I’ve got to die once
    To never ever die again
    And what I believe within
    I engrave within my skin
    And one thing that I ain’t
    Is a saint without a sin
    How could there be a now
    If there never was a then
    That is unbalanced
    Just like the yang without a yin
    I am distinguishably deeper
    As opposed to the paper-thin
    And I breathe oxygen
    And you rhyming ‘bout rocks again
    You stagnant
    Standing still enough to feel the world spin
    I’m beginning to smell the end
    In the path of the blowing wind
    Hopefully I’m fortunate enough to spend
    Forever with a friend
    I’m slow dancing with destiny
    Every day until then
    When I first got my big break
    I said that I would never bend
    And discredit my character
    To keep up or contend
    And my beliefs beat basslines
    Secrete such a special blend
    I am not like them at all
    And I cannot pretend

    I am not like you at all
    And I cannot pretend

    - Cee-Lo, Big Ole’ Words (Damn)

  • Nelson

    I want to be as free as the spirits of those who left
    I’m talking Malcom, Coltrane, my man Yusef
    Through death, through conception
    New breath and resurrection
    For moms, new steps in her direction
    In the right way
    Told inside is where the fight lay
    And everything a nigga do may not be what he might say
    Chicago nights they stay on the mind
    But I write many lives, they lay on these lines
    Wavin’ signs of the times
    Many say the grind’s on they mind
    Shorties blunted out and everyone wanna rhyme
    Bush pushing lies, killers immortalized
    We got arms but won’t reach for the skies
    Waiting for the Lord to rise
    I look into my daughter’s eyes
    And realize that I’ma learn through her
    The Messiah, might even return through her
    If I’ma do it, I gotta change the world through her
    Furs and a Benz, gramps wantin ‘em
    Demons and old friends, pops they hauntin’ him
    The chosen one from the land of the frozen sun
    When drunk nights get remembered more than sober ones
    Walk like warriors, we were never told to run
    Explored the world to return to where my soul begun
    Never looking back or too far in front of me
    The present is a gift
    and I just wanna BE

    Common, “Be (Intro)”

  • H-LO

    This Godless Endeavor
    And on the open road we came to a sign
    For it was foretold that the weak would inherit
    And nothing would change
    Here we are at the crossroads, standing face to back
    Still afraid to see our eyes
    I feel helpless and alone, trapped on the third stone

    Sitting here sideways on a cold stone floor
    My guitar gently bleeding and wanting more
    When I heard a sound come rapping, tapping on my door

    Hello, I’m happy to meet you
    In your confidence is it safe?
    Sit down I’m happy to greet you
    To feed your greedy dog at the edge of the stage?
    But before, before you slam the door
    Tell me when, tell me why, tell me what this fucking life is for
    We fly through this godless endeavor
    We try to explain the black forever

    I feel helpless and alone, trapped on the third stone

    I feel permanently stoned, this godless endeavor the only cage I’ve known

    Our organic equation has shown it’s flaw
    Can we agree to disagree on the concept of god?
    As I lifted up my brother he said to me
    “Abandon naive realism, surrender thought in cold precision”

    I feel empty and deranged, denied one last epiphany and ushered from the stage

    Thou shalt not question, the role of science is not to eliminate god
    As alternative gods multiply science stands accused of theocide
    Consume, conform

    The children sitting in the trees, they turn to laugh at me
    They tell me that I’m insane, but in my mind I know I’m to blame
    Alone within my lunacy, dementia fills the void within me
    No testament, prayer or diseased lament can heal my wounds
    They are so discontent

    All the faithful fall onto their knees
    And praise the priests of industrial disease

    We contemplate oblivion as we resonate our dissonance
    In godless random interpretation
    The universe still expands, mankind still can’t understand
    How to define you, so hide your face and watch us exterminate ourselves over you
    Welcome to the end my friend, the sky has opened

    Warrel Dane (of the metal band Nevermore), This Godless Endeavor (2005)


    The allure of breakin the law
    Is always too much for me to ever ignore
    I got a thing for them big body Benzes, it dulls my senses
    In love with a V-Dub engine
    Man I’m high of life, fuck it I’m wasted
    Bey Venay kicks, or them Marvin Kaye wrists
    My women friend get tennis bracelets
    Trips to Venice, get they winters replaced with
    The sun, it ain’t even fun no more I’m jaded
    Man, it’s just a game, I just play it to play it
    I put my feet in the footprints left to me
    Without sayin a word, the ghetto’s got a mental telepathy
    Man, my brother hustled so, naturally
    Up next is me, but what perplexes me
    Shit I know how this movie ends, still I play
    the starrin role in “Hovito’s Way”

    It’s just life, I solemnly swear
    To change my approach, stop shavin coke
    Stay away from hoes, put down the toast
    Cause I be doin the most
    But every time I felt that was that, it called me right back
    It called me right back, man it called me right back

    I’m like a Russian mobster, drinkin distilled vodka
    ‘Til I’m under the field with Hoffa, it’s real
    Pillow-top him like a toupee
    Mix the water, with the soda
    Turn the pot up make a souflee
    All of y’all can get it like group-ays in your 2-way
    I’m livin proof that crime do pay
    Say hooray to the bad guy, and all the broads
    puttin cars in they name for the stars of the game
    Puttin ‘caine in they bras and their tomorrows on the train
    All in the name of love
    Just to see that love locked in chains and the family came
    over the house to take back, everything that they claimed
    Or even the worst pain is the distress
    Learnin you’re the mistress only after that love gets slain
    And the anger and the sorrow mixed up leads to mistrust
    Now it gets tough to ever love a-gain
    But the allure of the game, keeps callin your name
    To all the Lauras of the world, I feel your pain
    To all the Christies in every cities and Tiffany Lanes
    We all hustlers, in love with the same thang

    I never felt more alive than ridin shotgun
    In Cline’s green 5 until the cops pulled guns
    And I tried to smoke weed to give me the fix I need
    what the game did to my pulse, with no results
    And you can treat your nose and still won’t come close
    The game is a lightbulb with eleventy-million volts
    And I’m just a mark, addicted to the floss
    And doors lift from the floor and the tops come off
    By any means necessary, whatever the cost
    Even if it means lives is lost..
    And I can’t explain why, I just love to get high
    Drink life, smoke the blueberry sky, blink twice
    I’m in the blueberry 5, you blink three times
    I may not even be alive
    How mean James Dean couldn’t escape the allure
    Dyin young, leavin a good lookin corpse
    Of course

    Jay-Z, The Black Album (2003)

  • Nelson

    And here’s one from a great rock lyricist (and admirer of hip hop):

    Standing on the waters casting your bread
    While the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing.
    Distant ships sailing into the mist,
    You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing.
    Freedom just around the corner for you
    But with the truth so far off, what good will it do?

    Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
    Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
    Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

    So swiftly the sun sets in the sky,
    You rise up and say goodbye to no one.
    Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,
    Both of their futures, so full of dread, you don’t show one.
    Shedding off one more layer of skin,
    Keeping one step ahead of the persecutor within.

    Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
    Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
    Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

    You’re a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds,
    Manipulator of crowds, you’re a dream twister.
    You’re going to Sodom and Gomorrah
    But what do you care? Ain’t nobody there would want to marry your sister.
    Friend to the martyr, a friend to the woman of shame,
    You look into the fiery furnace, see the rich man without any name.

    Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
    Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
    Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

    Well, the Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy,
    The law of the jungle and the sea are your only teachers.
    In the smoke of the twilight on a milk-white steed,
    Michelangelo indeed could’ve carved out your features.
    Resting in the fields, far from the turbulent space,
    Half asleep near the stars with a small dog licking your face.

    Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
    Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
    Oh. oh. oh. Jokerman.

    Well, the rifleman’s stalking the sick and the lame,
    Preacherman seeks the same, who’ll get there first is uncertain.
    Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks,
    Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain,
    False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin,
    Only a matter of time ’til night comes steppin’ in.

    Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
    Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
    Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

    It’s a shadowy world, skies are slippery gray,
    A woman just gave birth to a prince today and dressed him in scarlet.
    He’ll put the priest in his pocket, put the blade to the heat,
    Take the motherless children off the street
    And place them at the feet of a harlot.
    Oh, Jokerman, you know what he wants,
    Oh, Jokerman, you don’t show any response.

    Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
    Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
    Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

    Bob Dylan “Jokerman”


    Casso says:

    I owe you an apology Billy Sunday. I left a shitty comment on your last post (Blogging Angel of Death). It was the only one of your posts I’d ever read, and I commented prematurely.

    This post is brilliant. I think it elevates what little discourse there is in hip hop. Several of your other posts, including the one on Wu Tang’s new album, are just as on point.

    Much respect.


    • Casso

      And talkin’ shit in all caps on the INTERNET is gangsta, right?

  • Greyskull

    Ghostface (Supreme Clientele) vs Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Kubla Khan)

  • Turd Ferguson

    I’m looking fa Mrs. Bubble Gum
    I’m Mr. Chik-O-Stick
    I wanna (dun dun dunt) (oh)
    ’cause you so thick
    Girls call me Jolly Rancher (Oh)
    ’cause I stay so hard
    You can suck me for a long time
    (Oh my god!)
    Girl this ain’t no dance floor
    This a candy sto’
    And I’m really geeked up
    And I got more dro
    I pop, I roll
    It’s soft I know
    It’s the summer time
    But your laffy taffy got me froze (oh)
    Gone get loose (oh)
    Gone get low (oh)
    Don’t be shy
    Hoe I’m Faybo? (oh)
    I know you wanna ride
    You’re a star and it shows
    (What’s happening? What’s up? What’s up? Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go)

    Girl shake that laffy taffy
    That laffy taffy
    Shake that laffy taffy
    That laffy taffy
    Girl shake that laffy taffy
    That laffy taffy
    That laffy taffy (candy girl)
    That laffy taffy


  • Casso

    We are born from the mildew, the rust, the heathenous lust
    The dreams in the dust, the evidence flushed
    The grieving is just, they’re thieving from us
    Insulted and cussed, this evening we bust

    Appears unstable and under the table
    We like free speech but we love free cable
    We’re taught from the cradle the Bill Gates fable
    Which leads to high speeds in Buick LeSables

    We have no excuses just great alibis
    And poker faces you can’t analyze
    Our politicians sell our soul and our cries
    With blood on their hands they can’t sanitize
    We’re the have-nots, but we’re also the gon’-gets
    Not just talkin ’bout the Lex with the chrome kits
    You can get that by yourself with the four-fifth
    Let’s all own shit then toast with Patron hits

    • Casso

      ^^ That’s Boots Riley of The Coup

  • gerald n. the birdman

    Rhyming poetry sucks ass.

    • Fire


  • Lajm

    Perfect post.

  • RBMC

    Thats why Grandmaster Melle Mel is better than Jay Z, Tupac and Biggie.

  • Def ’round Tha Corna

    I see death around the corner, gotta stay high while I survive
    In the city where the skinny niggas die
    If they bury me, bury me as a G nigga, no need to worry
    I expect retaliation in a hurry
    I see death around the- corner, anyday
    Trying to keep it together, no one lives forever anyway
    Strugglin and strivin, my destiny’s to die
    Keep my finger on the trigger, no mercy in my eyes
    In a ball of confusion, I think about my daddy
    Madder than a motherfucker, they never shoulda had me
    I guess I seen too many murders, the doctors can’t help me
    Got me stressin’ with my pistol in my sheets, it ain’t healthy
    Am I paranoid? – Tell me the truth
    I’m out the window with my AK, ready to shoot
    Ran out of endo and my mind can’t take the stress,
    I’m out of breath
    Make me wanna kill my damn self,
    but I see death around the corner

    (When we were kids, belonging felt good)
    I see death around the corner
    (But having respect, that feels even better)
    I see death around the corner
    (When we were kids, belonging felt good)
    I see death around the corner
    (But having respect, that feels even better)

    I see death around the corner,
    the pressure’s getting to me
    I no longer trust my homies,
    them phonies tried to do me
    Smoking too much weed,
    got me paranoid, stressed
    Pack a gat and my vest,
    under my clothes when I dress
    Here’s hopin I die the way I lived,
    straight thuggin’
    Huggin’ my trigger for all them niggas
    who was buggin’
    My homie told me once,
    don’t you trust them other suckers
    They fought like they your homies
    but they phony motherfuckers
    And even if I did die young, who cares
    All I ever got was mean mugs and cold stares
    I got homies in my head
    who done passed away screamin, please
    Young nigga, make Gs
    I can’t give up, although I’m hopeless,
    I think my mind’s gone
    All I can do is get my grind on, death around the corner

    I was raised in the city, shitty
    Ever since I was an itty bitty kitty
    Drinkin’ liquor out my momma’s titty
    And smokin’ weed was an everyday thang in my household,
    And drinking liquor til’ you out cold
    And tho’ i’m gone now, nigga it’s still on- Pow
    Bustin on them niggas til they gone
    How many more jealous ass bitches, comin for my riches
    Now I gotta stay suspicious when I bone
    Cause if I ain’t sharp and heartless,
    them bitches will start shit
    Excuse me, but this is where we part bitch
    No more game for free, please explain to me
    Why niggas trip bitch, who you came to see?
    Murderin’ now but see me later man, as for my pops
    I got homies that will hunt you til you drop
    I hope the Lord will forgive me, I was a G
    And gettin high was a way of gettin free
    I see death around the corner

    This is for all the real mothafuckin niggas out there
    I know you ain’t scared to die
    We all gotta go, ya know ?
    A real motherfucker will pick the time he goes
    And make sure he handles his motherfuckin business
    Y’all niggas stop acting like pussies out there,
    all right

  • E-Fleezy

    Okay here’s the kicker:

    Cruise ships sail out, inmates bail out
    beef with my day one dog, we finally fell out.
    Identifyin’ bodies at morgues, I need vests.
    I polly with the faces in forbes with weed breath.

    Patrone out my pores, people feelin’ the vibe I’m noid.
    No hole but concealin’ my cries a void.
    Manic depress shit hanniblectic.
    Let off a few shots, dipped, ran thru the exit.

    ah, I’m too old for this.
    all these diamonds in my wrist’s and my necklaces.
    supposed to be knottin biches up effortless.
    But it’s like I’ve been possessed by the exorcist.

    Forgive me, no emmy’s or role play here.
    just the Bently two door with the cold face stare, so yeahhhhhh…. cool whateva.
    blunts, bottles, or broads we can do whateva.
    blood, bullets, or war you’ll be removed foreva.
    single solo or crew send them dudes to dead ya.

    Yes sir, professional style.
    truely I ain’t applied my pressure game in a while.
    Rudely, I’m really moody, aggressively fowl.
    Diconnected now so press redial, I’m gone.

    AZ the god