Tag Archives: Kanye West

Casting Call: Bonus Cut Goes Game of Thrones


By: Harry Jadun


“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”

Like the rest of the world, Bonus Cut has caught Game of Thrones (which I will affectionately refer to as GoT from here on out) fever. We can’t get enough of it, and not only because it’s an awesome show, but because it reminds us of the hip-hop scene in which artists battle to sit atop hip-hop’s subjective, imaginary “Iron Throne”. Instead of using catapults and swords however, artists use lyrical jabs, metaphors and wordplay in order to kill the opposition.

So here at Bonus Cut, we decided to play make-believe for a little bit (bear with us here): In our imaginary world where one doesn’t have to wait seven days in between each GoT episode, every actor who plays a character in GoT became deathly ill and couldn’t finish filming the series. Naturally, HBO hired Bonus Cut to recast the show with one condition: each character must be a rapper. So we did our job, and it turned out beautifully.

Sidenote: I would like to personally apologize beforehand for not casting anyone as Tyrion Lannister, I just don’t think anyone’s that perfect. Sorry

Lil Wayne as Aerys II Targaryen (The Mad King)

Like Aerys II Targaryen, Lil Wayne sat on the throne. After Tha Carter II up until Tha Carter III, Weezy spewed out mixtape after mixtape of pure brilliance. His spot atop the throne was damn near undisputed and the hype around the release of The Carter III was unprecedented, and it lived up to the hype. Afterwards, however, nothing was the same. Even though his albums have sold, he has never gotten back to the pre-Carter III level. Also, instead of mumbling about burning people, Wayne can’t get off the topic of eating pussy. There are many theories as to what happened (I would suggest reading Amos Barshad’s article), but one thing is for sure: Lil Wayne is not the same rapper he once was. He hasn’t quite died off yet, as there were glimpses of hope on I Am Not a Human Being II, but hip-hop’s Mad King is not in good shape.

Kanye West as King Joffrey Baratheon

Abrasive, narcissistic, arrogant. All three of these words can describe King Joffrey. All three of these words can describe Kanye West. Kanye, like Joffrey, finds a way to piss everyone (and I mean everyone) off at one point or another. From “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” to “Yo, Taylor I’m really happy for you. I’m gonna let you finish, but…” Kanye has never been afraid to let people know what’s on his mind. He even dissed his mentor and tutor, Jay-Z, recently at a concert for going on tour with Justin Timberlake. However, each and every one of his albums has been an instant classic, and everything he does, from Kim to his clothing, impacts the rap game in one way or another. So no matter how much you hate him, he’s still the king. The same goes for King Joffrey, who has been loathed since episode two when he gets Sansa’s direwolf executed. He personally gives me the urge to throw my remote at the TV whenever he appears, but he’s still the king.

50 Cent as Ned Stark

Ned Stark is one of the more respectable characters in GoT. He is a good father who is also a role model for his kids. 50 Cent is respected in the same way, a hip-hop artist and business man who started from nothing and rose to the top of the rap game in the early 2000’s. Like Ned Stark, whose presence still lingers in GoT, many of today’s hip-hop artists try to imitate Fitty’s mixture of gangster rap and club bangers to achieve success. Also, when Ned Stark stood up to King Joffrey, his head got chopped off. When 50 Cent stood up to Kanye his music career’s metaphorical head got chopped off. Wait, I casted King Joffrey as Kanye West? Wow, I see what I did there…

A$AP Rocky as Robb Stark

Both of these characters are young, handsome and fashionable upstarts from the North looking to take the Throne by any means necessary. Robb Stark had to find his own way, learning to be a leader on the job without his father’s guidance. A$AP Rocky took a similar path, as he took the world by storm with his unique, geography-blurring voice on his successful Live. Love. A$AP mixtapeGoing from nothing to something from a matter of months (and receiving a multi-million dollar record deal) would seem to pose problems for most, but A$AP and the rest of his crew have played their cards right so far, not unlike Robb Stark up until last episode. Here’s to hoping they don’t suffer the same fate, as A$AP seems like he has a lot more left in the tank. *Muffled cries from the realization that Robb will never behead Joffrey and take the throne with Talisa at his side*

Jay Z as Tywin Lannister

Tywin might not be the official King of the realm, but his influence and wealth forces everyone to respect him as such. Every move that he makes is a power move, from the strategic positioning of his troops to the puzzle-piece marriages of his sons and daughters. He instills fear into those around him because of what he might do if they start actin’ up. From head to toe, Tywin is a straight boss. The same can be said about Jay-Z, who has parlayed his success as a rapper into becoming something more: an icon. From meetings with the president to trying his hand as a sports agent, Jay-Z is never satisfied and always looking for ways to expand his empire and increase his stranglehold atop the game.

Kendrick Lamar as Daenerys Targaryen

Readers, I hope you can get over the fact that Kendrick’s a male and Daenerys is a female. Daenerys is one of the most lovable and powerful characters on the show. Kendrick Lamar is one of the most lovable and powerful hip-hop artists on the planet right now. What’s not to love about a throwback artist who tells it like it is? Truthfully, Kendrick is the last of a dying breed. His ability to spit fire is remarkably similar to Daenerys’ dragons, and his last two releases, Section.80 and Good Kid, M.A.A.D City were timeless classics. We’re waiting for Daenerys’ dragons to grow, and we’re waiting for Kendrick’s next album (which will surely be another classic). For both, it only seems like a matter of time before they’re both sitting on their Iron Throne.

Dr. Dre as Jorah Mormont

It’s been a while since Dr. Dre released any music. However, he’s still omnipresent in hip-hop culture today. Whether it be his Beats, which are commonplace in the wardrobes of athletes and hip-hop artists, or his Aftermath records, which has signed many great artists, Dre finds a way to impact the game without a significant release in the last decade. His role within hip-hop culture is similar to that of Jorah Mormont’s in GoT. Jorah has been there and done that. A knight and former advisor to Robert Baratheon, Jorah (Dre) uses his wisdom and experience in order to help Daenerys (Kendrick) in her quest to bring the Targaryen house back into power. Wait… that worked out perfectly!

Chief Keef as Hodor

Honestly, Hodor should be insulted I’m stooping him to Chief Keef’s level. However, Chief Keef’s inability to come up with anything remotely close to an intelligent thought at any point in his life is comparable to Hodor. Here’s how I (and you should) feel after listening to his music:

He constantly brags about gang violence. He laughed when his rival Lil Jojo was murdered in a gang affiliated shooting. He was arrested for shooting at a cop. He posted a picture of himself getting a blowjob on Instagram. Sosa makes stupid mistake after stupid mistake. Hopefully he turns out like Gucci Mane, who overstayed his 15 minutes of fame (we were laughing at you Gucci, not with you) and eventually faded away due to his constant run-ins with the law. Or maybe we can find a warg that gets into his mind and puts him to sleep. Sosa, just shut your mouth and say “Hodor”. The world will be a better place.

Drake as Jamie Lannister

The pretty boys of their respective realms, both of these guys are the targets of macho men. What else would expect when you’re suave, handsome and “25 sittin’ on 25 mill?” Jamie Lannister gets yelled at Brienne of Tarth for crying when his arm gets cut off, Aubrey gets flack because he doesn’t fit the mold of your typical “gangster rapper”. Jamie’s known as the Kingslayer, Drake has overshadowed his fellow labelmate and the Mad King of the hip-hop realm for the past couple years. Both guys come from privelage. You get the point.

Rick Ross as Robert Baratheon

Honestly, these two just look the same. Both are big and fat and have beards, but other than that they have nothing in common. The only thing Officer Ricky has been a king of is your local shopping mall’s food court. Moving on…

Lil B Fans as the Unsullied

Have you read the YouTube comments for Lil B’s videos? He has a cult following that is unmatched in today’s hip-hop world. Sure, Unsullied didn’t flinch when Kraznys cut off his nipple, but there’s no doubt in my mind that some Lil B fans would do the same (or worse) for the Based God. Seriously.

The Houses

House Targaryen—80’s and 90’s Rappers

Throughout GoT, we hear stories of the Targaryens, who ruled the realm long ago and kept powerful dragons as pets. Throughout my generation’s lifetime, we have heard stories of powerful rappers of the 80’s and 90’s that could spit fire themselves. Both of these groups were extremely powerful and influential, and as time goes on their legend only grows larger and larger. Both of these are a endangered species, as more and more Gucci Manes and Waka Flockas pop up daily while Kendrick Lamar’s and ScHoolboy Q’s are few and far between.

Local, Independent and Underground Hip Hop artists as the Brotherhood without Banners

The Brotherhood without Banners mission is to protect the innocent and vulnerable from being victimized by the major houses. For all the glitz and glammer that the Lannister’s possess, there is ten times as much poverty and hunger in the streets. Underground hip-hop artists serve a similar purpose within the culture: when mainstream artists are too much to handle, they give hip-hop heads legitimate, quality music to listen to. For every ignorant Chief Keef or 2 Chainz song on the radio, there is an equal and opposite Immortal Technique or Joey Bada$$ joint. Both are the unsung heroes of their respective worlds, giving us reprieve from the powers that be.

House Lannister—G.O.O.D. Music

The undisputed kings of the rap game right now, even with the recent departure of Kid Cudi. Kanye West leads this all-star cast that is deep with notable names, such as Big Sean, Common, Pusha T and Q-Tip. Cruel Summer was one of the most hyped releases of last summer, and Yeezus is going be that big, if not bigger this summer. Many have challenged GOOD, but they weren’t good enough. The Lannisters can relate, as time after time they deny lower houses who try to take their title as the top house in the Realm. Nobody’s messin with either of these cliques.

Young Money as the House Reyne

Remember when Margaery tried to butter up Cersei and Cersei bitched her out?

That house she threatened to turn the Tyrells into was the House Reyne. They tried steppin’ to the Lannisters and got massacred. The same happened to Young Money when they went toe to toe with G.O.O.D. Music. At first it seemed like a competition, but then Wayne fell off and they started getting desperate. Things are not looking good for Young Money, who are pretty much left with: Drake (very respectable artist, arguably one of the top), a Lil Wayne that is a shell of his former self and Nicki Minaj. Nope, that’s not enough to take down G.O.O.D.

House Tyrell—Maybach Music Group

Both the Tyrell’s and Maybach Music Group are carefully crafting their way to the top of their respective games. The Tyrells did so by playing their cards right through marriage. Maybach Music Group has used key signings (such as Wale, Meek Mill and French Montana) while simultaneously releasing very successful mixtapes/albums (Ambition, Dreams and Nightmares and Teflon Don to name a few) to elevate their status. Soon they might have enough to challenge G.O.O.D. Music, but it will probably take a couple more quality artists and releases before it’s possible. Maybe they need to get an awesome mother figure like Olenna Tyrell. She’s the perfect grandmother.

And that concludes the Bonus Cut Game of Thrones casting call. Do you agree with this? Disagree? Comments? Questions? Concerns? Let us know below! 

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A Letter to the Chicago Maroon: Your Embarrassingly Frightening Twisted Take on Hip-Hop


The following is a written rebuttal to an article The Chicago Maroon published regarding hip-hop and rap. You can read the article here or down below.

By: Daniel Hodgman

Dear Author of THIS Article,

First I want to say, and this is important, that I am in no way bashing your opinion. Furthermore, I’m not bashing your writing, because if there’s one thing that’s evident when reading this (besides the many fallacies against hip-hop), it’s that you’re a confident and well-rounded writer. The imagery and detail contained within the confines of this piece run rampant and if I wasn’t such a concerned fan of hip-hop, I would think this article is perfect. Hell, this might be one incredible joke from the mind of a schemester with ambitions to write for The Onion and if it is the joke is on me. But it’s not, and that’s what I’m trying to get to.

I think as a writer and critic it’s also important for me to say that my aim with this letter isn’t to bash something I simply disagree with. If that were the case, I’d be writing letters like this nonstop to the many atrocious articles I read everyday. Furthermore, you must realize that this right here is all in the art of hip-hop; you had some things to say, and now I have something to say in return.

All that aside, this is why I feel the need to formulate a rebuttal.

Throughout this article you stake claims about these five artists and how their transformative minds and music have helped/been helped by the ever-changing flow of hip-hop as we know it today. For example, you state: rap artist “Future is a creature of modern rap” and that he “is a connective tissue”; Drake is “less interested in rap as a culture”; and something about Pusha-T and “collaborative arts that define modern hip-hop.” In these statements, along with many more spewed across this piece, I can’t help but notice how (to be completely honest) ignorant you are to what hip-hop and rap really is.

Let’s tackle the three statements I listed above just so you know what I’m talking about.

Regarding the rapper Future and your write-up on his upcoming Future Hendrix album you go off saying:

“Future is a creature of modern rap, a direct descendant of the genre’s new electronic bias. His latest single, “Karate Chop,” is a kind of sonic-melding blur of synths, bass thumps, and vocal jabs—a voice manipulation experiment. Future’s music can come off as almost comical, a prank on the lyric and rhythmic ambition of a previous rap generation that refuses to see a rapper for anything other than what he or she really is.”

The first thing I want to ask you is “what is modern rap?” Is modern rap defined by the overcrowding of familiar bass drops? Is modern rap where beats simply mirror each other with Fruity Loop-like cheesy synths that sound intricate to the dumb-downed listener? Is modern rap to you what mainstream rap is to people like me? It must be. See, the reason why I’m calling you out on this is that modern rap is such a broad term, it’s a crime to limit it to mainstream rap like you do here. If modern rap were limited to the mainstream radio waves like you say, we’d have no Prodigy, Action Bronson, Flatbush Zombies, Angel Haze, Big K.R.I.T., MC Invincible, Binary Star, Blat! PACK, Danny Brown, Dice Raw, well, you get my point. See, when you say “modern rap” and then simply talk about mainstream artists, it not only makes you look bad, but it makes everyone else involved in hip-hop look bad as well.

Also, you talk about Future’s “Karate Chop,” the same “Karate Chop” that features Lil Wayne saying, “beat that pussy like Emmett Till.” Is that modern hip-hop?

Moving on, you have the nerve to put this down:

“Future’s music can come off as almost comical, a prank on the lyric and rhythmic ambition of a previous rap generation that refuses to see a rapper for anything other than what he or she really is.”

What’s ironic about this statement is that you talk about Future’s music coming off as comical when really this sentence as a whole is comedic in its own right. When you talk about Future’s music as “a prank on the lyric and rhythmic ambition of a previous rap generation that refuses to see a rapper for anything other than what he or she really is,” you point out that the past generations of hip-hop only saw MCs for what they were with the messages they shared and nothing more. Engraining this into the mind of your readers as if this is fact, you have totally missed the point and come off as someone trying to know what he’s talking about when really you don’t know anything about the subject matter whatsoever. When you think of names like Slim Shady, Nasty Nas and Dr. Octagon what do you think of? Those my friend, are alter egos in hip-hop, or in broader terms, characters made up by MCs to portray a different type of message; a message that not only is the complete opposite of what “he or she really is” but a message to distort an image and/or completely profile a new one. Furthermore, these are alter egos that all originated in what you call “the previous rap generation.”

To make your argument even more invalid, what about all of the MCs of this “previous rap generation” who claim to be “making devils cower to the Caucus Mountains?” Do you really think U-God made the devil cower? If anything, the analogies, metaphors, similes and philosophies of rappers in ALL generations are taken from what they REALLY AREN’T. U-God can’t make devils cower, Das EFX didn’t catch a Snuffleupagus and Tupac never personally “talked” to Lady Liberty. So I must ask, what do you really mean when you say “refuses to see a rapper for anything other than what he or she really is?”

The next statement I chose to feature is this:

“Drake is less interested in rap as a culture.”

How can you even bring this into this discussion? Have you talked to Drake personally about his ambitions in the scene? How is his shadowy minimalistic (which I dig) Take Care not a direct child of culture? Why do you make such a statement and not back it up with fact? Give me more dude, give me more.

Also, rap isn’t a culture. Rap is spoken word or chanted rhyme, but it is not a culture, hip-hop is. I wouldn’t grill you on this so much, but for someone who puts so many claims into this article I feel like I should mention it. To quote the legend KRS-One: “hip-hop is something you live, rap is something you do.”

The third statement from your article I chose to personally portray is this:

“My Name is My Name will present the new, fully formed Push, the one who plays sidekick to Kanye on the G.O.O.D. Music label while dabbling in the collaborative arts that define modern hip-hop.”

And how exactly does “dabbling in the collaborative arts” define modern hip-hop? Are you trying to say that modern hip-hop is defined by artists working together? Are you claiming that more artists work together now than in the past? Again, what’s modern hip-hop?

I ask this because here’s the God honest truth: hip-hop has ALWAYS been collaborative. The very roots of hip-hop are made through collaboration. From the beginnings in New York City in the 70s, people and groups came together in, ahem, collaboration to share their common resistance against violence, poverty and the oppression thrown at their culture from outside forces. In fact, the tiers of hip-hop (rap, breaking, graffiti and turntablism) are all rooted together in collaboration to form the culture itself.

To further back this is the fact that rap from the very get go is collaborative. The MCs work with a producer or producers. The producers work with executive producers and mixers. Groups like Gang Starr and the Geto Boys are collaborative in their own right with multiple MCs and producers. Current groups like The Underachievers, Pro Era and Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music label are no more collaborative than past artists. So what are you really trying to say with this statement?

I could go on and provide more examples about the ignorance of this article, like your taxing write-up on Drake and how 90s purists find it hard to “ admit how important versatility and emotional complexity are now” (News flash: versatility and emotional complexity have always been present in hip-hop. If you weren’t versatile you weren’t successful, and if you didn’t have emotional complexity you didn’t have a voice.), but I think I’ve stretched this letter pretty far.

Remember, the point of this letter isn’t to bash your opinion on the artists you chose. I could give a shit about what you like or don’t like. However, when you mold your written word with statements that are completely wrong, and even more so dense and shallow about hip-hop as a whole, I have to say something. Not only do you stake opinions as fact, you make bold claims about rap and hip-hop that aren’t even true. So I ask you this: next time you’re working on a piece on hip-hop and the artists that you love, are you going to throw in random thought from your head and present it as fact? Or will you do some research on something you clearly should know more about and get the facts straight? For the benefit of those reading your article—because brain washing is a terrible thing in its own right—I hope you choose to pick your words more carefully next time.

Also remember, what I’m doing is all in the art of hip-hop, and I don’t care how you react to this, or if you even see this, but I do hope that you understand WHY I did this. Feel free to write back to Bonus Cut with a rebuttal. We love rebuttals.

Your friends,

Bonus Cut

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Lost in Translation: Misconceptions from the outside on hip-hop, language and culture

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By: Harry Jadun

Not too long ago in a Maize and Blue (University of Michigan) galaxy far, far away, student government candidates Mike Proppe and Bobby Dishell performed a publicity stunt in order to get votes. They hired Da’Quan (a Michigan student and YouTube sensation) to film a video. In the video, like many of his others, he exploits common stereotypes that hound both Black and hip-hop culture in order to gain attention while simultaneously endorsing Proppe and Dishell. The public outcry that resulted from the video was harsh, as many student organizations complained to the University, which forced Proppe and Dishell to take it down and apologize for uploading such a racist video.

A comedian’s job is to push the envelope of what’s acceptable. If a comedian isn’t doing this, he or she probably isn’t successful. From Tosh.0 to Dave Chappelle, funny men habitually feed off racial stereotypes and misconceptions that have formed in the minds of Americans in order to generate entertaining content. In the case of Da’Quan, University of Michigan students Mike Proppe and Bobby Dishell obviously wanted something geared towards a younger audience that would generate publicity, no matter if it was positive or negative. Clearly, the negative aspects outweighed the positive, as they were forced to apologize for making the video because it was found to be inherently racist. I do believe that this video has many racist qualities to it (such as the name Da’Quan). Despite that, Da’Quan’s language is in no way, shape, or form improper or uneducated, and this is important because it is a microcosm of the lack of respect for hip-hop culture as a whole.

The way that Da’Quan talks (although he takes it over the top) in the video has become synonymous with hip-hop in today’s world and is often labeled as broken English. This idea could not be further from the truth, as the way Da’Quan talks is recognized by linguistic experts across the globe as an independent language, commonly referred to as Black Language or Ebonics. Michigan State University professor and distinguished scholar on Black Language, Geneva Smitherman, shoots down all of the misconceptions that constantly hound Black Language in her book, Talkin That Talk:

“Ebonics is emphatically not ‘broken’ English, nor ‘sloppy’ speech. Nor is it merely ‘slang.’ Nor is it some bizarre form of language spoken by baggy-pants-wearing Black youth. Ebonics is a set of communication patterns and practices resulting from Africans’ appropriation and transformation of a foreign tongue during the African Holocaust” (Smitherman 19)

This makes sense, as the dictionary defines a language as “a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition.” That definition of language, along with Smitherman’s point that Black Language has unique syntactic and phonological features, makes it clear that Black Language is its own individual language, as it originated from a group of people with a common cultural tradition.

On paper, the existence of Black Language sounds legitimate. The problem is that those who have not studied linguistics do not respect it as such. It is commonly referred to as “street slang” or other less than endearing names with negative connotations. This is due to the fact that the language originates from Black (as well as hip-hop) culture. Because of the dominant culture of white supremacy and “standard English,” Black Language fails to garner the respect it deserves. “Standard,” “proper” or anything along those lines are only arbitrary titles that the powers that be (White America) put on a certain way of speaking. Just because these words are not found in the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t mean that they are not respectable or intelligent words. Fuck, a red line still appears under the word “frindle.”

Stanford professor and renowned linguistics expert H. Samy Alim articulates this concept a lot more elegantly than I can:

“The fact that is the language and communicative norms of those in power, in any society, that tend to be labeled as ‘standard,’ ‘official,’ ‘normal,’ ‘appropriate,’ ‘respectful,’ and so on, often goes unrecognized, particularly by the members of the dominating group” (Alim 57).

In this case, White America has completely ignored and demeaned an essential part of Black/hip-hop culture, and has punished blacks for not conforming to their standards. According to Wichita State professor William Thomas, “The way a person talks, a person’s language, is part of him, part of his culture, part of his self-pride, and part of his very identity” (4). From that viewpoint, it is easy to understand why hip-hop artists proudly use Black Language in their songs: Black Language represents their individuality, history and pride.

Calling Black Language improper (or any other adjective along those lines) also implies that the language is uneducated. I understand that Da’Quan takes it over the top (as any comedian would), but the way that he speaks in this video is not uneducated by any stretch. Labeling it as uneducated is practicing language supremacy, which is defined by Alim as the “unsubstantiated notion that certain linguistic norms are inherently superior to the linguistic norms of other communities” (Alim 13). How are we supposed to say one way of speaking is better than others? Is England’s form of English better than ours? Is Arabic superior to Spanish? This is a huge problem throughout America, and instead of disparaging somebody else’s way of speaking, we should be practicing language equanimity, which is described as the “structural and social equality of languages” (Alim 14). Honestly, I hang around people that are very “educated” and are attending some pretty esteemed colleges. Constantly, we pick up phrases that come from the mouths of these so-called “uneducated thugs” because they express our actions and feelings a lot better than “proper” English. Rather than harping on hip-hop artists for their illiteracy, we should be praising them for their ill literacy (shoutout to Alim for the wordplay). Dr. Smitherman put it best when she said: “hip-hop is a barely explored reservoir of linguistic riches” (Smitherman 155).

If anything, the ability to carve phrases and expressions from scratch that replace “standard” sayings reflects the remarkable capacity for creativity within hip-hop culture. What is considered hip-hop language is never constant and ever-changing; it’s flowing. This idea is perfectly summarized by Jubwa of the hip-hop group Soul Plantation when he explains:

“It’s not defined at any state in time, and it’s not in a permanent state. It’s sorta like—and this is just my opinion—it seems to be limitless. . . So, I feel that there’s no limit and there’s no real rules of structure, because they can be broken and changed at any time. And then a new consensus comes in, and then a new one will come in. And it will always change, and it will always be ever free-forming and flowing. . .” (Roc the Mic Right, 14)

This quotation can be attributed to hip-hop culture as a whole, as artists are constantly redefining what hip-hop is. From Anthrax’s contributions to Public Enemy’s “Bring tha Noize” to A$AP Rocky’s collaboration with Skrillex on “Wild for the Night,” the line between hip-hop and everything else is constantly being blurred.

The lack of respect in relation to the language of hip-hop is an issue that plagues the culture as a whole. For example, I remember listening to Kanye West’s “Family Business” in my car and my girlfriend’s mom told me to “Turn off that nonsense.” The fact that Kanye is a “rapper” formed such a negative preconception that she wouldn’t even give the song a chance. What made this so much more frustrating was the fact that “Family Business” is the worst song for her to call “nonsense” because it is an upbeat song reminiscing about all the great memories and experiences that come from having a tight knit family. ‘Ye even touches on the stereotypes that prevented her from understanding the meaning of the song: “I woke up early this morning with a new state of mind/A creative way to rhyme without usin’ knives and guns.” This was a Wesley Snipes-Woody Harrelson moment that happens to hip-hop fans on a regular basis: people unfamiliar with hip-hop listen to the music, but pre-existing stereotypes prevent them from hearing it. Anybody who has been in this situation can certainly relate to the frustration that I felt, as there was nothing I could do to get her to hear KanYe.

This preconceived notion that hip-hop brings nothing of substance to the metaphorical table ruins the experience of hip-hop for too many people. This misconception typically forms from the artists’ language, which is not a logical reason to discard an artist’s voice. I understand that some hip-hop artists’ intellectual ceilings top out at “fucking bitches and getting money,” but that should not prevent people from hearing conscious artists such as Talib Kweli or Kendrick Lamar, especially when these artists are the lone voices blowing the whistle on social injustices that go unnoticed in urban areas across the globe. Although people like Proppe, Dishell and Da’Quan mock the language of hip-hop, we must fight against these stereotypes ingrained in society regarding Black Language, because it is not until the mainstream media and the court of public opinion start respecting every aspect (including the language) of hip-hop culture that the essence of hip-hop can truly flourish.

Works Cited

Alim, H. Samy, John Baugh and Geneva Smitherman. Talkin Black Talk: Language, Education, and Social Change. New York: Teachers College, 2007. Print.

Alim, H. Samy. Roc the Mic Right: The Language of Hip Hop Culture. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print.

Smitherman, Geneva. Talkin That Talk: Language, Culture, and Education in African America. New York: Routledge, 2000. Print.

Thomas, William J. Black Language in America. Vol. XLIX. Wichita: Wichita State University, 1973. Print.

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Show Review: Talib Kweli at The Pyramid Scheme


By: Gus Navarro

For me there are two factors above all else that determine the talent of an MC. Their abilities in the studio are clearly important, but also their capacity to rock a live show. I have seen groups such as the Cool Kids–that while I love their music, didn’t have a great live show. I still enjoy the Cool Kids and listen to their music often, but would think twice about paying to see them again. To a certain extent, a Hip hop show is expected to be loud and you’re supposed to feel the thump of the bass in your chest. However, with the Cool Kids it was impossible to hear their lyrics, and difficult to figure out which song was being played. Recently, I saw Talib Kweli at the Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, Michigan. To put it simply, the night was a bit wild.

Forty-five minutes after the second opening act, a female MC by the name of Mama Sol that is worth checking out, Kweli still hadn’t come on stage. Rumors started flying around that he was held up and would not be coming to perform at all. After a solid hour, there was still no sign of him. By this time, people were becoming agitated and some considered leaving. Then out of nowhere, his Dj showed up, and about five minutes later Kweli was on stage and the show began. Sporting sunglasses, a blue hoody and green hat with the word “ninjas” across the front, he proceeded to “rock the mic.” He performed new music from his upcoming album Prisoner of Conscious, and the classic material including “Get By,” “Move Somethin,” “Definition,” “Re: Definition” and “In This World.”

About halfway through the set he apologized to the crowd for being late and explained what had held him up. According to Kweli, he had three different flights cancelled out of New York due to the east coast blizzard. Because of this, he took a taxi down to Philadelphia, flew to Detroit, and then was driven from Detroit to Grand Rapids. I can only imagine how exhausted I would have been after such a travel fiasco. Despite this, Kweli came straight from the road to the stage and had the crowd rocking with him within his first song. He left the stage with huge cheers from the crowd that quickly became a chant for him to return. After about five minutes he came back and did about six more songs that included his verse from the Kanye West classic “Get Em High” and finished the encore with “I try” from his 2004 album The Beautiful Struggle. With that, the concert ended and my friends and I headed home, later than anticipated, but in awe of what we had just seen.

I realized on the way home that I had just witnessed Hip hop in its purest form. Talib Kweli was able to find energy to perform after a long day of travel because sharing stories with an audience is his craft. Beyond that, rapping is his vocation. He has reached the point in his career where his lyrics are not simply “memorized,” rather his words and lyrics are a part of who he is. Talib Kweli was able to share his artwork with crowds across the country because he understands that an important part Hip hop is engaging a crowd while spreading the messages of revolution, decolonization, love and progress. This is not a mainstream message, and will not be heard on the radio, which is what makes Kweli revolutionary in his own right.

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