Great Connections: Rap, Poetry, And Classics
© by Alex Sheremet, 6/15/08
Yes, most listeners don’t read hip-hop journalism, or at all for that matter. Serious and intelligent fans, too, might avoid books and cultivate few significant interests. Still, there is something remarkable about the latter: they have great artistic sense, and are often far more discriminating in creative matters than many educated non-listeners. Contrast, for example, the bizarre “intellectual” discussions of undeniably bad poems with the precise criticism on Alternative Hip-Hop forums. Here, there are no experts, and no valid credentials — arguments suffice, and the debates are mostly evaluative, rarely abstract or philosophical. No one pats another on the back, especially if we’re on a competitive site with good amateur rappers and a cutthroat atmosphere. Rappers throw their tracks down, anticipating a competitor’s moves: lines, intonations, and great retorts. A decision comes — a vote for the best track, with an analysis of the competitors’ lines and techniques by each voter.
Think about this for a second. It almost seems warped if we compare it to
the “subjective” treatment of poetry. In poetry, almost everyone — no
matter how bad — is a decorated winner, and objective judgment is thought
impossible, or, more likely, unpalatable — published poets just don’t
disturb each other. In hip-hop, disturbance is key. It’s rare to find an
artist without some lyrical feud, either ongoing or in the past. In fact, most
of these feuds have even been covered in a series of DVD’s devoted to the
spectacle. Rappers comment on each other’s work in funny and exaggerated ways,
although honesty is often most
destructive (if well-writ), as in Eminem’s response to Benzino’s claim that
white people shouldn’t be in hip-hop:
don’t know shit about no shoppin’ rocks,
what you know about hip-hop shops, rockin’ spots?
you’re the only white boy in that bitch, just rippin’
up your own flyers and your stickers, stickin’
bitches up, after spendin’ six hours at Kinko’s
makin’ copies of your covers of casette singles,
sellin’ them out the trunk of your Tracer,
your whole paycheck at the Disc Makers?
you know about bein’ bullied over half your life?
that’s right, you know what that’s like — you’re half white!
This is unthinkable in poetry — the motives are different, and poetry
rarely has a competitive edge. “Mature people,” it’s said, “don’t make
sly jabs at each other, but have civil discussions.” Sure, but with two
qualifications: 1) some people deserve, or creatively need
the jabs to stimulate their own work; 2) in art, you’re essentially a
competitor — if you’re not a good poet and don’t care to improve, you
might as well quit writing unless it’s self-amusement. The market is already
packed, and most of the product is gratuitous. On the other hand, rap is the
only substantial self-made (and self-directed) culture for many, with room for
distinction, especially for creative people. Thus, one of rap’s main ideas is
self-improvement, or honing the talent — fans have already established that
hip-hop can be judged objectively, and are quite willing to dispense the
criticism. In poetry, sloppiness does little to stop a writer’s growing fame
in an anything-goes atmosphere. In hip-hop, laze can kill an underground career
before the first album drops. No circular, philosophical justification for a
poor line or a bad verse can satisfy these hardened critics — they like the
real, tangible stuff, the physical manifestation of good art.
Still, even those with greater opportunities (art school, money, a full
scholarship to NYU) are drawn to hip-hop’s competitive spirit, and participate
from a purely creative impulse. Although hip-hop offers something poetry does
not, it’s not necessarily the creative offering that’s different — in fact, the creative satisfaction is
similar, if not identical, in both arts. Perhaps the difference is the
demographic. In some ways, rap is for the young, or, rather, that’s when an
interest sparks. It’s perfectly natural: hip-hop is accessible, and appeals to
the teenager’s ego. Not only does rap offer that creative and competitive
outlet, but also caters, in sophisticated ways, to young people’s need to be
around others. All the while, it chips and grinds out a strong artistic sense.
Consider the intense social appeal: a chance to connect, to find passionate and
talented people, to feel a tangible
improvement, a concrete goal — in short, to melt some youth and inexperience
drop by drop into a living memory, perhaps, of time well spent.
This is stuff that’s remembered, that’s always linked to youth in great, substantial
ways. And although I’ve always had a different creative outlet, being around
such enthusiasm is like being involved in a great communal project: all, as
consumers, as producers, as people whose memories — school, romance, friends
— are inevitably shaped and colored by hip-hop, are affected, and have a real
stake in its direction and success. And this isn’t mere insubstantial
nostalgia, just an innate peculiarity of a rather social art. Indeed, it’s talent
that matters — it shades the above experiences and throws them in a more
enjoyable, sophisticated context. As a similar-minded fan nods or laughs at a
line, or listens, with color and concentration, juggling the nuances we both worked
and grew to understand, I feel —
like when I write an excellent poem, or pause for a fine phrase, like James
meditate right off the page.
memory and pleasing rage
soothing slide of conscious mind
to the brink, and there I find
meaning more than what you meant
in a corner bent
out of flooring that you laid
stud and joist you never made.
corner turns and comes to me,
something fits, and I am free
lift my finger off the line
you have made completely mine.
— at the height of feeling, even when it’s over: to bask in the
afterglow of a concluded couplet or a spectacular verse is one of the best parts
of rap. Perhaps only Pitchfork Media (that is, on the “educated” end of the
critical spectrum) would extensively comment on the “scatological” (their
word) content of a bad Lil’ Wayne line, or meticulously speculate on the
effect of a deepening weed habit on his lyrics, while ignoring precisely what
matters: the distinction between good and bad, talent and non-talent.
To be fair, these recent three-pronged indiscretions are not always
typical, but I suspect a real trend: like in poetry, the further the critic
moves from hip-hop’s bottom-line, from hip-hop’s tangible manifestations of
quality, the worse the criticism. (This is not always the case, just an
inclination. It appears the above is not
an exception.) Still, the paradox has only been partly addressed: why does a
casual perusal of an Internet hip-hop discussion often reveal more
about art and artistic discrimination than a page from an academic journal?
As noted, the typical artistic interest of a serious hip-hop fan is quite
different from the intellectual interests of some literary critics. One —
thanks to its competitive, blue-collar roots and concerns — is tangible
(always a good sign!), and deals with details essential to the art, to the
bottom line, and the other, too often, is a peculiar collection of critical
novelties, rarely evaluative or truly critical.
Moreover, there is a great continuity from hip-hop to poetry, perhaps a bit
broken in some parts, but intact, at least on the the general level, the big
ideas — “What is art?”, the classic aphorism, the question that, in the
end, reveals elements common to all good creative expression: attention to
detail and craft, the avoidance and/or subversion of clichés, wit, originality,
and, if appropriate, intellectual substance. Consider them, repeatedly.
Given the above, it’s not a surprise that hip-hop changed my life, in a
couple of ways. First, it opened me up to the nuances of art in a way no other
art form could — I was simply uninterested in and incapable of handling
anything else then. Rap’s honing of my intuitive
artistic sense mattered in the long run. Second, it got me reading. In the Fall
of 2003, I just turned sixteen, a junior in high school, and came across
Eldridge Cleaver’s “Soul on Ice,” indirectly recommended by Ras Kass’s
(excellent) debut album of the same name. Having heard terrible things about
both, I read the book long before I listened to the album. The former, while
written by an arguably deranged ex-serial rapist, had a few great and poetic
insights, and the latter, while strewn with near-racist sentiments and a couple
of laughable oddities, was the most lyrically sophisticated rap album at the
time (1996), and perhaps even now.
Perhaps the criticism got me interested. Good, young listeners are often
ripe for intellectual stimulation, for new ideas — it’s just a matter of
finding the proper material. And despite its obvious deficiencies today, no book
has ever moved me as much. Perhaps “Soul on Ice” was simply
appropriate. I was becoming more aware of the world, already used to
the grueling political slogans and vague rebelliousness of hip-hop. I needed
substance, facts — a bit of a program. The book provided that, concentrating
my slight, blunt interests into a sharp point, nudging me to an indefinite
direction: ideas, reordered and reevaluated.
had a desire to be part of a world beyond my living room. I finished
jotting down Cleaver’s references to things I had no clue about. If the
book (like the album, to an extent) is often bad substantively, it’s still
great stylistically — one of the best-written political memoirs I’ve ever
read, no matter how self-serving (RE: Huey P. Newton’s revelations in
“Revolutionary Suicide,” a substantively maturer book) the prose turned out
to be. This is one lesson I’ve applied to hip-hop and art in general: there is
a difference between a writer’s ideas and their execution, which amounts to
the difference between art (or, something approaching art) and creative
Rap fans should especially take note of this distinction, as too many
rappers — Dead Prez especially comes to mind — consider themselves talented
based on subject matter alone. True, the two often overlap, but not necessarily. Consider
Dead Prez’s blandness on “Police State”:
want to be free to live, able to have what I need to live,
the power back to the street, where the people live.
sick of workin’ for crumbs and fillin’ up the prisons,
over money and relyin’ on religion for help.
do for self like ants in a colony,
the wealth into a socialist economy:
way of life based off the common need,
all my comrades is ready, we just spreadin’ the seed!
No great images, no memorable lines — just rhetoric. Dead Prez has
rarely risen above this kind of sloganeering (“Hip-Hop,” and perhaps two or
three other tracks are the only exceptions), sacrificing well-crafted lines for
a revolutionary but monotonous salvo. Conversely, the Notorious B.I.G., while
often at the height of human ignorance in his raps as well as in his personal
life, is an example of a great artist. Again, unsculpted ideas are not art. It
takes more than a message to acquire a creative reputation, or at least get a
good critic to praise you.
And although I intuitively understood this, I wasn’t always conscious
of it. Coming home from school, I’d throw on hip-hop records every day,
absorbing the styles and only eventually making value judgments. This
was talent, that was not — these
were judgments I grew quite comfortable with, but I didn’t know how to apply
them beyond rap. Hip-hop — then — was the final stimulation, the great
social glue: I did so much with rap in the background, and couldn’t budge for
years. It was hip-hop that spurred the above curiosity, that contextualized my
high school experiences. I needed little else, at least for a while. Still, I
was quite conscious of the artistic possibilities beyond this small musical
niche. So, I explored.
After I graduated high school in 2005, I took a break from rap. At some
point, I was no longer stimulated. But I was curious, in different ways. Sure, I
dabbled in spoken-word, or wrote a handful of corny stanzas in 2004, but I
wasn’t much of a reader (or writer, even though I had a few original lines)
beyond the strictly political and historical stuff. Poetry was quickly becoming
my preferred art, thanks to the temporarily incorrigible tastes that befall most
young social activists and aspiring bohemians with lots of time and lots of
hunger: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Henry Miller, and, just years before,
their equally insubstantial rap counterparts.
These all have a couple of things in common: limited talent, and a strong
appeal to the countercultural haunts of vegan poetry cafes. Nonetheless, I was
lucky — I cut that weird bohemian trance after picking up a copy of, among
others’, Countee Cullen’s poems. Yes, Arthur Rimbaud soon lost his strange
(and, more importantly, non-existent!) prophetic stare — just another talented poet! Is
that the first sign of an incipient maturity — that things lose their holy
aura, their cleverly engineered mystique? In short, that things, like Aesop
Rock’s breakdown in 2001:
rapidly outta fog I'd never fished in
and can slowly crystallize beyond that little riddle? I suspect the
romantic personality has a place, though; it’s often the best spark, the
initial move to a better understanding of the art. Even as you’re older, just handling
this great mystique (that is, if a part of you still believes in it somehow) is
like a second adolescence: things are new
again, things have rules that need to
be explored and tested. And rap certainly has its share of romance, too — even
more, probably. Its early spark is built around this understanding.
I also began to notice other things as well. I could have read and
re-read Cullen’s “Heritage” dozens of times before, never failing to
shudder at some of the greatest lines ever written:
I fashion dark gods, too,
even to give You
despairing features where,
with dark rebellious hair,
wavers just so much as
grief compels, while touches
and hot, of anger, rise
smitten cheek and weary eyes.
forgive me if my need
shapes a human creed.
Consider it: the ironic admission against an otherwise “spotless”
Christian faith, the suggestive pagan images that just demolish
Cullen’s former claims. And that final devastating couplet? It’s virtually
conceding what atheists (like me) believe — that religion responds to and is
marked by human feeling, not the other way around. Not only is this little
stanza technically excellent, it’s intellectually sophisticated as well.
That’s difficult. Cullen’s is probably the most intelligent discussion of
the clichéd “God is white/black” “debate,” which most rappers haven’t
yet learned to let go of or treat maturely.
Yet repeating those same lines to others is rarely satisfying. Sure,
it’s unsurprising now — most
people are just too inexperienced to appreciate something well-writ, beyond a
customary nod or some indifferent approval. I didn’t realize this until a
couple of years ago, probably because I was reading in an insulated way. And the
phenomenon is similar in rap. A casual listener could never tell the difference
between a Ras Kass and a 50 Cent, much less a non-listener whose only impression
is, “well, they’re both talking.”
And rap has developed its own self-referential language, — it has a rich
system of allusions, vocabulary, and careful intonations that are perpetually
inaudible to the inexperienced. This is not hyperbole or mystification, just
common sense. Example: As I was waiting for M.I.A.’s show to start last
October, I thought about the opening act’s quaint
performance. These rappers were imitating Old School hip-hop in obvious ways:
short end-stopped lines, regular rhythms, greater stress on the final syllables,
and the familiar, aphoristic chants and refrains. (Interestingly, English
poetry, to an extent, started out the same way, especially blank verse.) As if
to punctuate the gimmick, they quoted Ice Cube:
with me, ’cause I'm a teenager
a little bit of gold and a pager —
my car, lookin’ for the product,
every nigga is sellin’ narcotics!
Minor details? No, it’s like a modern reader schooled on the short,
dull sentences of James Frey opening to Dickens, or the paragraph-lines of
Caesar: there’s no way to mistake the three unless you are illiterate.
Still, hip-hop is not a “literary” creation. Its original
source was uneducated vernacular speech, which is all too obvious in early rap.
Consider a verse from Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message”:
child was born, with no state of mind
to the ways of mankind.
is smiling on you, but he’s frowning too,
only God knows what you go through.
grow in the ghetto, living second rate,
your eyes will sing a song of deep hate.
places you play and where you stay
like one great big alley way.
say, I’m cool, I’m no fool,
then you wind up dropping out of high school.
Despite its fame, it hasn’t aged too well, at least lyrically: multiple
clichés, technical mediocrity, and nothing that could equal modern hip-hop.
This is never admitted, but it’s manifestly true: line-for-line, most early
hip-hop is superceded by contemporary stuff. Why? It’s just like in poetry: it
takes time for the art to really
mature: it needs models, or precedents to play off of. Hip-hop did not have
that, at least not at first. But by the early 90s, things changed. Now, rappers
had well over a decade of material to absorb and reimagine. The language, far
more developed, was ripe for a technical revolution in rhythm, subject matter,
and new standards of lyrical excellence. Consider Ras Kass’s unreleased and
virtually unknown “Core Audience,” one of the best rap songs ever recorded
and unlike anything out at the time:
is the new platinum gimmick:
it the double-cross crossover!
rose by any other name is “Seal”!
claimin’ you “represent the real niggas’ life,”
only represent it for a price!
if next week, the new fad was hip-hop fags,
find a lot of hardcore niggas in draaaaaaaaaag!
know, it’s a lot of work from “ghetto,”
“gettin’ mo’ dough,” but silly ass niggas need to know:
it makes dollars, it must make.. sense!
kick my shit for the core audience.
that’s why I remain anonymous,
of cuttin’ out the middle man,
keepin’ mine autonomous!
rather be major on a Minor,
minor on a Major label!
willing and able to put your label
my choppin’ table!
black dollars, and not go pop,
if I flop — at least I stayed true to hip-hop!
Note the wit, the humor, the wordplay (and the substance!),
all amplified by a great and subtle performance. Although rap always had these
elements, it took more than a decade to hyperdevelop them before the real creative stuff began to flow. And of course, that’s natural;
artists need to coexist with each other’s work, to study the nuances and
possibilities of lines and techniques, or simply to mature. Great songs or poems
are wrought from this experience.
Still, rap, just like poetry, has a big problem — its own artists. Or,
rather, the artists’ refusal to consciously grapple with the basic questions: clichés, originality,
talent, and so on. Good rappers do
proclaim their superiority (and usually correctly!) but I suspect this awareness
is often quite intuitive, not
systematic. Is excellence something tasted from afar, handled delicately, but
never truly understood? Not so!, as the above evaluations prove. Still, a rapper
typically has a two or three-year shelf life, before his quality deteriorates.
Consider Canibus’s lament:
’98, niggas thought I was God!
the fuck did that change?
Ironically, while this is one of his best post-fall lines, it draws
attention to his own ruin. It’s self-inflicted — Canibus jumped from
excellent wordplay and battle lyrics (with only the slightest and well-done
hints of a scientific style) to pure self-indulgence, losing sight of what
matters: well-wrought and concise lines, not
outsmarting (if that’s the word; I suspect not)
the competition with pointless obscurity. Sure, he still has the occasional
substantive point, but spends too much time being a self-proclaimed anomaly.
Just check the mudslide to irrelevance (and the lazy recycling of his own rhymes
from decade-old material!):
like Red or White Wine? Let's talk about it, I'm buying.
talk about the children of Zion, excuse me if I start crying.
Art Of Rhyming? I've mastered it, certainly,
I'll celebrate capturing it for my Taxidermy
the streets of New Jersey to Germany
jungles in Angola where most the meat poachers heard of me.
Ice Truck Killer will be observing me perform surgery.
Widow Murder - searching for her urgently.
the blood so it don't coagulate,
sex magic won't work if the bitch masturbates.
Slightly problematic, no? Note the string of non
sequiturs, the epic pretensions — in short, amateur stuff that might fit
in the unadulterated newbie sections of online battle boards, but nothing worthy
of the original value of his moniker. Just the album cover (“For Whom the Beat
Tolls”) gives it all away: a dirty Canibus crawls across the desert towards a
lone microphone, with a pyramid behind him. Nota
bene: such a self-serious attitude pretty much guarantees artistic failure,
especially in hip-hop. And perhaps these delusions are contagious, too: his
hardcore fan base is often just as bad as he is, dissecting every corny line and
defending it to death. Consider this anonymous little howler
posted in response to a negative and accurate review of the above:
on [this] level of thinking that is only, earthly, human, and confined by mental
slavery will never understand Canibus. He is and always will be the master of
word play. He does not conform to the “listenable” type of music people
flock to. He will never rhyme for “those people,” the people who refuse to
open their minds. Listen and absorb. Most people are too dumb to understand
Canibus and they will never, ever understand why people listen [to him]. He
rhymes for us, not the masses.
Self-parody, or is this guy serious? Consider that Canibus often makes
the same claims, and often ends up in the same sinking boat — heavy and full
of sharp butting rocks, but no sentient passengers. (Still, it’s important to
remember that even the weirdest fans debate,
no matter how spectacularly wrong they turn out to be. As negative reviews
appear, the discussions begin: careful, detailed and passionate analyses
nit-pick every word of the review, with substantial evidence cited from the
artist himself. It’s amazing to the untrained eye, but this is simply the
product of an underground grassroots culture — people fight
for it, even if they often fight stupidly. Does poetry have this spirit?
Usually, no: a general, dismissive comment is enough, as the hurt connoisseur
moves on to the next mediocre poet.)
And this is typical. I can think of only a handful of artists that are
still making great (or even relevant) material a decade or more into their
careers. El-P has been excellent since 1994, for example. There’s a reason for
this, too — he’s probably the most self-conscious rapper I’ve ever heard.
In 2003, he recorded a verse on Aesop Rock’s “We’re Famous,” and made
the song completely his, at least in spirit: Aesop Rock’s lines are like a
nightmare’s waking afterthought compared to El-P’s grand and sculpted
gun-talk, no gimmicks, just rounds of raw-dogging
dusty intelligent wit, and word murdering:
hardcore poetic informed without burglary —
and shook the shit out of rappers who just learned of me.
I first put this on my Zune Player last November so that I’d have
something to do while waiting on those long Pathmark lines, but ended up
concluding my two-year hip-hop hiatus as I carried home the grocery bags. After
two years of focusing on poetry and expanding a bit beyond rap, I was prepared
to make some great connections between the arts. El-P magnified them through
sheer talent — indeed, no gimmicks, just the bare essentials, dripping wit and
self-toppling innovation. I suspect that poets need his arrogant advice:
time I prescribe a new pill — revolution!
defined the standard for indie rap distribution.
Is innovation incoherent rambling? Is it “post-modernist” poetry? Is
that “revolution,” or simply another dead end? You just saw it in
hip-hop — sure, Canibus is “different,” but that’s not what counts: talent is final, the last clue to the artistic maze. Canibus: full
of energy and strange ideas, but little more than a bad novelty from an exotic
locale. Conversely, just check El-P’s style: twisted adverbs, dense metaphors,
but always pointing to a tangible direction — a classic example of the sum
being better than its parts, although his lines are often quite brilliant
why I always get respect from true soldiers
laugh at the critics claiming every year: “Hip-hop's overrrrr!”
you! — Hip-hop just started:
funny how the most nostalgic cats
the ones who were never part of it!
[Note: isn’t this also true
of many failed poets?]
true veterans'll give dap to those who started it,
humbly move the fuck on, and come with
that new retarded shit!
slang, new thought, new sound, new heart,
thought you hang? — You clown, you don’t: you drown!
won’t dumb it down, I’m dumbing now for these rounds,
a live mothefucker, plus I’m gunning for clowns;
a mime motherfucker, don’t be coming for pounds
you can break out of that invisible box, you're
It took a rapper to point out
the obvious: in many ways, old hip-hop — even, in El-P’s terms, “boom-bap
and golden ages” — can never compete with the strength of new material, at
least not lyrically. (Another parallel: Shakespeare — we’ve moved past him,
haven’t we? I think so.) But, perhaps it’s not strange — El-P is careful,
but unafraid to topple his latest innovation. He’s interested in facts, in
evaluative judgments, and I can imagine the core of his creative philosophy:
Artistic relativism is a myth, and no
rapper or poet is qualitatively identical — a simple, tangible concept, but a rare
refrain. And the quality of his work follows!
El-P offers some sound artistic criticism, too. It has wide application,
but consider it here: in poetry, Housman declaimed the superiority of Milton
over Shakespeare on account of Milton’s classical knowledge — a bizarre
criterion, no? It merely betrays Housman’s scholarly
bias, not any innate feature of good poetry. At any rate, his claim is wrong on
both posits, and El-P can demolish it — albeit indirectly! — in the same
favorite ones are the ones who started out young,
about comic books, spaceships, and Omnicron 1 —
even though they were soft, they had fun,
But they couldn't break out the frame of the
town they came from.
Note the final line — it’s one of rap’s best little gems, tucked
deeply in a long, brilliant, and philosophical verse. It also concisely explains
artistic and critical failure, or at least its popular manifestation. A bias, a
careless starting point — that is like a “frame of town”: petty, closed-minded, and
unwilling to tap into the rich but unfamiliar corners of the universe. In
Housman’s case, it’s also an unwillingness to look ahead — he’s stuck
fondling Roman statues, on account of an insurmountable personal inclination, an
don’t innovate, because you can’t
not a choice, despite what you might
tell your boys!
This encouraged Housman to value Greek and Latin classics above
what we can learn about poetry through our own (local!) English models (which is
a lot, and perhaps even more so — just weigh the sheer bulk of English
literary output against the rather sparse extant antiquities!), a romantic but
unsustainable position. Still, these problems are more easily avoided if
something else is kept in mind — to stick to the tangible, but carefully.
It’s strange to consider the infinite artistic sense a person can develop,
well-read or not; just look at those hip-hop discussions, especially on the
better forums. I suspect the dividing line is care, and some experience. No
mystique, no appeals to anything beyond what’s available, or simply there.
At last, “Classics,” as a discipline, or a hobby — Housman is
romantic, but I don’t say this derisively. In fact, I’m in the same healthy loculus
— I found hip-hop by its spirit of romance, but grew to appreciate it for its
sophistication. I broke those straps, but perhaps it’s true of any art.
Certainly, it’s true of poetry and rap: it starts with a strange and
temporarily insatiable curiosity, but ends in nuance and deepening maturity. A
month ago, I shut my note-gut Ovid, deciding to never crack it open for another
five or six years — and paradoxically, it’s like another great artistic
project has begun. I realized I’d never
understand his nuance, or appreciate, beyond the editor’s marginal notes, his
technical skill unless I’d start with the rudiments
of Latin, like baby-talk at an artificial mother’s knee. To read reams of
children’s prose, or to kill thousands of hours on Latin audio recordings with
other frustrated amateurs — didn’t rap, didn’t poetry take the same kind
of effort? And program? I suspect
artistic experience is a hunt for some kind of transcendental nuance: the reason
why people read, and, perhaps more importantly, re-read.
And I’d too like to fondle Roman statues, but with Midas’ touch, like in rap, or poetry, not Cupid’s sagitta plumbea, like in a foreign, disconnected tongue — in short, to understand, to overcome the babble. No artistic project should be any different.
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