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?

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