Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Homeroom [EXPLICIT]

Today in homeroom a promo played over the TVs, trying to drum up interest for the upcoming swimming season.

The music for the promo was a rap song I'd never heard before. The clip ended with a couple lines that the swimming coaches probably would have preferred not to have broadcast under their imprimatur to the entire school at 7:55 a.m.:

Told her beauty is why God invented eyeballs
and her booty is why God invented my balls

I raised an eyebrow, but none of the freshmen in my homeroom seemed to notice.

I thought the rapper's voice sounded familiar, though, and I asked the students who it was. A kid near the front of the room said it was G-Unit. Then I realized who it sounded like: Kanye West.

Thinking about ways of talking about rap and hip-hop in my African American Voices class next year, I've been reading about and listening around in the genre lately, including Kanye's recent album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I guess the timbre of his voice had wormed its way into my consciousness.

The student challenged me, so I looked up the lyrics and confirmed that it was indeed Kanye, making a guest appearance on the Lloyd Banks song "Start It Up."

"That's pretty sad," I told him, smiling, wanting to make it cut a little deeper, "when I know rap better than you do."

The lines are obscene, of course, not to mention crudely sacrilegious and completely inappropriate for homeroom. But on the level of sheer wordplay, they're pretty impressive.

As the bell rang and I walked out into the hall, I thought of all those 17th century wags, poets like John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, who delighted in writing sexually obscene and politically transgressive poetry. One might develop a comparison between contemporary mega-star rappers and these decadent aristocrats.

I doubt their poems were ever read after morning prayer at Eton, though.


Rich said...

Side by side...what do you think?

My dear mistress has a heart
Soft as those kind looks she gave me,
When with love's resistless art,
And her eyes, she did enslave me;
But her constancy's so weak,
She's so wild and apt to wander,
That my jealous heart would break
Should we live one day asunder.

Melting joys about her move,
Killing pleasures, wounding blisses;
She can dress her eyes in love,
And her lips can arm with kisses;
Angels listen when she speaks,
She's my delight, all mankind's wonder;
But my jealous heart would break
Should we live one day asunder.

Lord John Wilmot

"Melting joys about her move" is a pretty elegant and evocative line.

framiko said...

Lovely. But side by side these two seem to be apples and oranges.

How about this passage, from "The Imperfect Enjoyment", in which the speaker castigates his penis for prematurely spending itself and failing to respond to further arousal from his lover:

Worst part of me, and henceforth hated most,
Through all the town a common fucking post,
On whom each whore relieves her tingling cunt
As hogs on gates do rub themselves and grunt,
Mayst thou to ravenous chancres be a prey,
Or in consuming weepings waste away;
May strangury and stone thy days attend;
May’st thou never piss, who didst refuse to spend
When all my joys did on false thee depend.
And may ten thousand abler pricks agree
To do the wronged Corinna right for thee.

framiko said...

For sheer obscenity, I'd put Rochester's "The Mock Song"up against any contemporary rap. Even Rochester's title seems in line with the aggressive, profane spoofing one finds in hip-hop.

Ben Scholle said...

No doubt you saw this:

The only problem with Wilmot was that for the life of him he couldn't lay down a beat. Maybe if he'd had a DJ...