Archive | February, 2011

Profound Hip Hop Quote: Week #8

26 Feb

“We spent the last year writing rhymes doing shows and chopping records
And traveled all around the world to spread the message
‘Cause ain’t no rest for the weary when it comes to my team
We only sleep on December the 32nd”

—Little Brother, “Not Enough”

At what lengths are you willing to go to achieve what you want out of life?  Will you fight for it at any cost even when it does not seem plausible or reachable?

Little Brother, one of the most talented rap duos birthed in the 21st century, did just that! Though Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh’s talents and tight lyrical abilities have been lauded by most underground artists and “hip hop heads,” they have often been unrecognized by “mainstream” hip hop listeners and radio stations.  Perhaps it was due to lack of promotion or lack of awareness on behalf of music listeners; nevertheless, for nearly ten years, these guys did not stop, and I loved being a part of their sleepless journey.

Interestingly, I did not hear “The Listening,” their debut CD until a few years after its original release.    Their sophomore album, “The Minstrel Show” was my first listening experience, and I did not know what to expect from such a controversial title.  However, I loved every song and interlude and understood why the CD had such an intriguing title. I then thought to myself, these guys from the “South” are flawless, and their rhyming skills ant witty usage of figurative language cannot be denied!

When I heard these lines in “Not Enough,” I knew that many people, not just underground “hip-hop heads” could relate to their plight.  Even though there is this constant struggle of being accepted and striving to reach their goals, they managed to persist.  Do you fight for what you want?  Once you realize what you want, do you establish clear, concrete goals, and apply yourself wholeheartedly to reach those goals.  No matter how unattainable they may seem to be or how mentally or physically exhausted you may be, there “ain’t no rest for the weary.”  While you sleep on your dreams another day goes by with no progress being made, and there is probably someone living out the dream you so desperately want to be a reality.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Little Brother’s Phonte is the czar of figurative language  and witty rhymes.Perhaps is was his college education at North Carolina Central University or his exposure and affinity towards poetic techniques.  Regardless, the lines from “Not Enough” contain a compelling example of an allusion, which means an indirect reference.

We only sleep on December the 32nd.” As you may know, or should know, there is no December 32nd.  Why doesn’t Phonte simply say, “We never sleep?” He selects a date that does not exists to not only pique the interest of the listeners but to stimulate their minds requiring some critical thinking to realize this fact.  What makes this line so brilliant is he chooses a date that would be the last day in the year if it did exists, which suggests that he has worked all year non-stop yet still refuses to “sleep.”

Also, Phonte has a lyrical finesse when it comes to rhyming.  Some rap artists simply rhyme word like, “cat” with “hat” or even “cat” with “cat” again.  This would be considered an ab or aa rhyme.  Phonte, incorporates an aaba technique using slant rhymes.  This is where part of the syllable of a word rhymes through consonance (rhyming of consonant sounds) or assonance (rhyming of vowel sounds).  When one reads “records,” “message,” and “32nd” he or she may say, “that doesn’t even rhyme!”  On the contrary, it does.   Upon listening to the song, the “eh” sound in re-cord, mes-sage thirty-sec-ond can be heard.

Lastly, Phonte uses the word “sleep” which could easily be substituted with “stop.”  Why “sleep?”  Of course, it is being employed in this instance as slang, but Phonte has something much more meaningful in mind.  Why sleep when you can live out your dreams?


Profound Hip Hop Quote: Week #7

19 Feb

“You need git up, git out and git somethin’
How will you make it if you never even try
You need to git up, git out and git somethin’
Cuz you and I got to do for you and I”

—OutKast, “Git Up, Git Out”

How often do you complain or hear others complain about their job, lack of job, family life, social life or just life in general?  How many of these very same people, possibly including you, are doing “nothing” about it?

This classic rap song from OutKast’s debut album “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” states what must be done emphatically.  One of the reasons I still love this song so much is that both “André 3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton still live by it approximately 17 years from its release.  They have branched out into television, movies, cartoons at one point, fashion and even ballet.  Apparently, they made sure to “git up, git out” and do more than a little “somethin.”

Besides the smooth mellow beat, I still find myself singing along with this catchy chorus with the “in your face” meaning. Where are you in your life?  Where do you want to be?  What are “you” doing to get there? Yes, these past few years have been difficult for most during the recession, but there are so many lessons to be learned and opportunities of which to take advantage.  “How will you make it if you never even try?”

I love where I presently am today, and I am partly where I am because I did “something” to achieve my goals, and the other reason is because God was on my side as I sought out those goals.  Interestingly though, I’ve learned that whenever I ascertain that “something” for which I’m reaching, there’s always some bigger and better goal waiting out there for me.  We all have days when we wish our life circumstances were better, but we mustn’t  wallow in self-pity, be envious or covet what others have.  We “need to git up, git out and git somethin’.  Cuz you and I got to do for you and I.”  We’re all in this journey together.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
OutKast’s name alone is a perfect English lesson because the correct spelling is Outcast.  These guys have fun with the English language by modifying the spelling of words and even changing the syntax of words with the title of this album “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.”  Actually, this is a common technique amongst some poets: e.e. cummings is one of the most famous to use this technique.  Also, OuKast embraces a southern slang vernacular in most of their songs since they are from Atlanta.  Instead of get, OuKast uses git, and instead of something, they use somethin’.

Furthermore, within the last line, there is not only a colloquialism with modified spelling but an object pronoun error which might have been deliberately done for the purpose of rhyming and to have the proper meter in the line.  Instead of “Cuz you and I got to do for you and I,” it should be “Because you and I have to do for you and me.”  Keep in mind that many rappers who are well-versed and considered lyricists tend to familiarize themselves with the standard grammar rules prior to breaking the rules in their lyrics.

Sonnet #5: Sensations

16 Feb

Tanya Harris aka Anonomz See my heart smile at the sound of your voice;
feel it flutter when you utter my name.
Your succulent kisses: gentle and moist
my feelings for you can barely be tamed.
Turn on when you rub my thigh when we drive
or you lovingly stroke through my tresses.
For my happiness you constantly strive;
I want all of you my heart confesses.
Amorous banter and romantic gazes
sensual moments: your hand meets my waist.
Truly in love, to me this amazes.
Scrumptious morsels of you I yearn to taste.
What an immeasurable attraction.
Need and want you, love you with a passion.

by Tanya Harris aka Anonomz
Written for and Inspired by SPF

Sonnet #1: First Encounter

14 Feb

Tanya Harris aka AnonomzYour voice alone puts a grin on my face;
the gentleman I must get to know.
Heart pulsates quickly awaiting the chase.
Where you are headed allow me to go.
Admit you like me by way of your smile
handsome lover, will you only be mine?
Your presence I want and say without guile.
Interconnected, our souls intertwined,
Embrace me with your eyes as we converse
at my lame jokes you let out a chuckle.
Alluring intellect has me immersed;
My forward nature leaves me quite blushful.
Enamored by you; please stay in my sight.
An urbane love like you would be just right!

Tanya Harris aka Anonomz

Written for and Inspired by SPF

Profound Hip Hop Quote: Week #6

12 Feb

“Love, life, music: this is what it sounds like.
Letting the good times overshadow the bad,
as long as we alive, that’s a reason to be glad
Love, life, music: this is what it feels like.
Many ways to die one way to live,
turn negative into positive.”

—Nicolay featuring Eye Plus Eye, “Love Life Music (Remix)”

What is love?  What does it feel like?  What does it sound like?  Is it always about romance?  With Valentine’s day approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to select a song that addresses love in some way.  At first, I wanted to use a romantic rap song, which is difficult to find these days.  Then it occurred to me that love is more than romance, and perhaps we’ve gotten too caught up in the commercialization of Valentine’s Day focusing our attention more towards the expectations of cards, hearts, flowers, chocolates, dinner, jewelry, etc.

The first time I heard Nicolay’s CD “The Dutch Masters Volume I” I was drawn to the mellow, melodic sound and authentic beats and was then initially introduced to one of the featured artists Eye Plus Eye.  His lyrics are so simple yet so profound.  Instead of the common phrase, “Live, Life Love,”   or “Love, Life, Laughter,” which can be found on many types of decor, he rearranges the order and includes music as an essential part of his life.  I’ve always been extremely fond of music because it has often worked as the catalyst for my thoughts, actions and life.

The lyrics of this particular song suggest that we let the good times overshadow the bad. Conversely, many of us harp over the little things and do not acknowledge the many blessings bestowed upon us.  Are you getting so caught up in how much you “hate” the snow during the winter instead of loving the fresh air and the ability to actually shovel snow while others are bedridden or cannot even walk?  Are you bitter and angry because you have “no one” special in your life to love you  or believe that your life has nothing but negativity?  Have you ever taken the time to fall in love with yourself and with life?  Perhaps you’re not as alone as you think and have not reached out to your family and friends who may feel just as lonely or dissatisfied with their lives.

Love is about more than romance; isn’t it?  Everything may not be perfect in your life; I know it is not in mine.  But I am constantly learning and have been making the effort to embrace spirituality while controlling my thoughts and actions, thereby leading me to a more positive existence.  Negative versus positive: It’s all about perception right?   This is a journey we all must take.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:

Nicolay & Eye Plus Eye’ title for this track allows for an excellent lesson on the significance of the comma and how it can change the meaning of a phrase or sentence.   The title, “Love Life Music” includes no commas; interestingly though, if one was to insert a comma after “life” it would give the impression that the song is about a person’s “love life” versus each word standing on its own yet collectively representing something more.

I Want You

8 Feb

Whew, you look so good
smell even better.
This is one zealous attraction,
but you’re no good for me
“Too cheesy:”  the reference some might use.
I try to leave you alone,
but I can’t get enough.
It is you who has captivated me
wherever I am,
your scent
your aroma
lingers in as I take a breath.
Instantaneously, I want you.
A deluge of salivation comes over me.
Tasting you is imminent.
Too hot for others
just right for  me.
Let me slice into you
unwilling to share with others.
Reminisce about so many good times with you
as I wrap you around my tongue
with juices flowing down my arm.
Gluttonous I am,
but man
you’re some good pizza.

By Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Profound Hip Hop Quote: Week #5

5 Feb

“These cats drink champagne and toast to death and pain,
Like slaves on a ship talking about who’s got the flyest chain”

—Talib Kweli and Hi Tek, “Africa Dream”

February is Black History month; it is a time to reflect on the struggles and achievements of our ancestors and how they have impacted the lives of not just Black people but all people.  I’ve always been a fan of Talib Kweli since the days of Black Star.  He is a true lyricist and often tells it like it is while teaching lessons through his music.  The first time I heard “Africa Dream” I was lured in by the beat of the drum  and absolutely captivated by the lyrics.  Then I heard the last lines and kept pressing rewind thinking to myself, this is one deep brother…not just a common day rapper.

Slavery is a part of our history and always will be.  Nevertheless, it has not stopped many Blacks (Notice I say Blacks, not African Americans, because this includes the entire African Diaspora) from being successful and making positive contributions to society. Sadly, there are several of us who are so far removed from the past struggles of our people that we fail to acknowledge how far we’ve come and how much further we need to go.

Why glorify killing and celebrate playing a role in the deterioration of our communities?  Is it just in some peoples’ nature, or is it a learned behavior?  Is it all about survival and no longer about what is morally and ethically acceptable?    Maybe it’s all about the new slave masters: blood and drug money, so-called power and superficial respect.

Presently, we are faced with several racial, gender, culture, class and religious issues that involve all people.  What role are you playing in our future?  We must all be held accountable for our actions, both good and bad.  When you reflect on what you are doing or what you are saying will it be perceived as a detriment to society or something that is going to catapult us into greatness?

How absurd would it be if Kunta Kinte bragged about the chains that bounded him while he lay across from his friend on the slave ship? Are you really bragging about the “figurative” chains that are keeping you enslaved?  Are you chasing after that money at any cost: your family, your friends, your own life?   Maybe you’ve worn the chains for so long that you’ve become accustomed to them and simply consider them to be a way of life.  It’s not always easy for anyone, including me, to do the “right” thing while in chains, but we can all start searching for the keys to unlock ourselves from the mentalities and situations that have kept us enslaved.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:

Talib Kweli has a few attributes in these particular lines. The first is slang.  Using the word “cats” to represent “men” is one.  More than likely, Talib chose “cats” because people often make the reference to “cool cats.”  Of course, these “guys” think they are “cool.”  Talib also uses “flyest,” which can be considered the “best or as nice as it gets.  Lastly, it is no coincidence that these are the last lines presenting an excellent example of an analogy.  The guys glorifying death and pain are being compared to slaves in chains.  He could have used a different correlation; however, this connection with slavery makes the impact that much more powerful.

Ten Things: Are Smart Inventions Making Us Dumb and Lazy?

2 Feb

Tanya Harris aka AnonomzWow!  We’ve come so far in the last few decades.  Life is extremely different than it was twenty years ago: even ten years ago!  We have been blessed with so many technological advancements to make our lives easier and more productive.  But sometimes I wonder, are all of these so-called “fabulous” inventions going to have a negative impact on our lives long term by making us and the humans of the future dumb and lazy? (Yes, I am guilty of using all of these inventions mentioned below)

1.  Price Check Machines in retail stores: These wonderful inventions make it convenient for those who are not good at figuring out what 30% off of a shirt that is $40 would be.  But how many of us pay a visit to this machine even when we know how to do the math in our heads?  Here’s a quick tip: Drop the zeros, and multiply the numbers to get the amount off.  In this instance, 4 x 3 = 12, so it’s $12 off.

2.  GPS Navigation Systems/Map Quest: Are you planning a road trip?  Why make it complicated by reading and following a map when a navigation system, Map Quest or Google Maps can do the hard work for you?  Yes, I do own a navigation system, and I love it because I do not have the best sense of direction.  However, I do wonder if there will come a time or if that time is now that people do not know how to determine if they are going, north, south, west or east without consulting their navigation device.

3. Spell Check and Grammar Check: Who needs to know how to spell or write well anymore when the computer will proofread it for them right?  Wrong!!!!  Has a red line ever come under your name letting you know it was spelled incorrectly?  Would you correct it because the computer told you it was wrong?  Sometimes  your word is not even misspelled but misused, like to, two and too…and these days “2” even appears in people’s formal documents as a result of text language.

4. Microwaves: Just pop it in the microwave!  How many people prepare or even know how to cook a decent home-cooked meal without using the microwave?  Of course, I do use it occasionally for popcorn and a quick heat and eat meal when I am on the go, but I wonder what will happen when the matriarchs and some patriarchs of families pass on and take their cooking skills with them.  Who really wants a microwaved Sunday or holiday dinner?

5.Televisions: Who hasn’t found themselves getting sucked in to the latest reality show or sitcom marathon: lazily wasting hours that could be used for something far more productive.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy watching a television show or two consumed by its alluring glow.  But I started to think about how lazy it made me and how I needed to do a better job at exercising my brain and body.  When is the last time that you plopped in front of the television for hours when you planned to do something else and wondered, “Where did the time go?”

6. Speed Dial: Who needs to memorize anyone’s number when there’s speed dial?  Do you know your significant other’s number or close family member’s number by heart?  We rely so much on cell phones and home phones to do the work for us.  I may be one of the few who still uses the key pad to store people’s number in my brain rather than the phone alone.

7. Processed / Pre-packaged Food: I’m not an ultra health nut, but in the past few years I have made a conscious effort to eat healthy and get my daily nutrients.  But I just can’t resist  purchasing processed or prepackaged food.  Honestly, who really has the time to make their own apple sauce or to bake their own multi-grain bread?  I surely don’t, but I have read several articles and health books which suggest that people should try to avoid these processed foods.  They tend to make us sluggish and can have an impact on our brain power.

8. Cars: Why walk to the corner store which is about a five to ten minute walk when you get hop in your car, and waste gas to get there?  People wonder why Americans are one of the most overweight nations.  If forced to conjecture, I would have to say that driving everywhere may have something to do with it.

9. Escalators/Elevators/Airport Conveyor Belts: Who are elevators really meant for?  People with disabilities?  Those with strollers or too much to carry up or down the stairs?  When it is five or more stories to climb?  Or for those able bodied people who get on at the first floor and take the elevator to the second floor?  Is there a rule that says you mustn’t walk down or up an escalator while you are holding on the rail?  Have many of us just become accustomed to having these machines do the walking for us?

10. The Internet: Of course, the world wide web is fabulous!  Why else would I post a blog?  There are many attributes, let us not forget some of the flaws.  The internet gives us information right at our fingertips which is great.  But many people have become self-reliant on the internet and take the information as “gospel.”  For example, students are more prone to plagiarize because of the temptation to copy and paste thereby making them dumb.  Not that plagiarizing is ethical or the right decision, but many of these students are too lazy  to type out something they read in a book which makes it even easier for them to get caught.

Do you have another smart invention that might be setting us back in one way or another?  Please feel free to share.

All the best,

Anonomz aka Tanya Harris