Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rap as zombie poetry


If poetry is dead, as a recent observer claimed, then can't we view what we've been hearing in hip hop as a kind of verse re-animated? That is to say, how about we view rap as zombie poetry?  Developing that view wouldn't be so hard given that so many of the story lines in rap correspond to the discourses on the undead.

Fear of a Black Planet. When Disaster Strikes. I am not a Human Being. "Clones." "Protect ya Neck." "Streets is Watching." Call those classic rap album and song if you like. But at this point, I know zombie movie titles when I see them. 

Seriously though, in comparison to many of the performances we hear from the most energetic and animated rappers and spoken word artists and poets for that matter, the lyrics and verse folks encounter on the page could be mistaken for dead or at least really boring by some readers, right? Through performance, words on the page begin to move, sometimes at a frenetic pace like those "fast zombies" in 28 Days Later (2002) and or the Dawn of the Dead (2004) remake.
Artful delivery, perhaps any reading, constitutes the practice of bringing poetry to life, transforming poems into the undead. Maybe all unopened volumes of poetry over there on the shelf are just waiting, bidding their time until a devious or creative reader comes and gets the reanimation process going.

No comments: