A Rose by any other name is still a Rose

by Rachel Baker on July 1, 2014

As someone who has been a proponent of “yes, rap really is poetry”, I love this article. While it may be difficult to listen to sometimes, you’d have to be an incredible snob to not allow that rap sometimes is just as lyrical, poetic, meaningful and emotional as any good poetry taught in any literature class around the country.

admit it…the times, they are a changin’…and it really is time for Rap to get some accolades.

Rap is indeed “real” poetry. It rhymes, often even internally. Its authors work hard on the lyrics. The subject matter is certainly artistically heightened, occasioning long-standing debates over whether the depictions of violence and misogyny in some of it are sincere. And then, that “gangsta” style is just one, and less dominant than it once was. Rap, considered as a literature rather than its top-selling hits, addresses a wide-range of topics, even including science fiction. Rap is now decades old, having evolved over time and being increasingly curated by experts. In what sense is this not a “real” anything?

The only reason rap may seem to nevertheless not be “real” poetry is a skewed take on language typical of modern, literate societies: that spoken language is merely a sloppy version of written language. “English,” under this analysis, is what’s on a page, with punctuation and fonts and whoms and such. Speech is “just talking.”

That means that to us, poetry is written poetry, that which sits between covers and is intended to be read, quietly, alone, with tea, likely chamomile. Never mind that in fact Jay-Z has released a magisterial volume of his lyrics as a book: generally, rap is intended to be heard on the fly, often in a concert arena. Surely there is a key distinction between that and the strophes of John Berryman or Gwendolyn Brooks?

Here’s the Article:
Americans Have Never Loved Poetry More—But They Call It Rap

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