Archive | April, 2011

Profound Hip Hop Quote #17: Homage to Philly Edition

30 Apr

“Smashing those who stand in my path;
counting ’em down like math.
planning, mapping, rapping them down,
from my part of town! 

—Tuff Crew, “My Part of Town”

Tuff CrewClick here to watch the video!!

It’s the end of the month, and I am still paying homage to some of the Philly rappers from the past who have made an impact on this culture and on me. Who knew there were so many from the late 80s and 90s.  When I think about a rap group  who not only put Philly on the map on a national and even  international level but also put my “town” on the map, I think of Tuff Crew consisting of Ice Dog, L. A. Kid, Monty G, Tone Love, and DJ Too Tuff.  I was in middle school when I was first heard, “My Part of Town.”  Not only were the lyrics and delivery on point, but  what really put this song on my radar was the tantalizing hook.

What is it that makes these specific song so profound?  It’s a combination of the music itself and the content.  Scratching and mixing it up on the “wheels of steel” was highly regarded in the 80s and early 90s, and DJ Too Tuff was a beast on the turn tables enticing all party goers to jump out of their seats and hit the dance floor to prove they were “So damn tuff!” The members of Tuff Crew were culturally and ethnically diverse and commanded the attention and respect of all who listened as they claimed what was theirs while fully displaying their machismo.  It takes courage and confidence to be willing to “smash those who stand in your path” as you represent where you are from and what’s most important to you.

Even though this behavior can potentially have an adverse effect, leading to gang turf  mentalities, it can be positive as well. Most people take pride in where they are from and will even give back to the community or put forth their best effort because they know that they are representing more than just themselves.  They may be representing a street, a neighborhood, a town, a city or even a nation.

Who or what do you represent?  Do you take pride in where you are from? Are you putting forth an effort to improve “your part of town?”

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Tuff Crew uses a simile  to stress their point about taking out all competition and opposition: “Counting ’em down like math.” Both similes and metaphors are excellent ways to demonstrate a point because it offers comparison to ensure that the lister has a clear understanding, and it also presents the information in a way that requires some critical thinking on behalf of the listener rather than stating it plainly.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #16: Homage to Philly Edition

23 Apr

“Oh Ohhhhhh
You got it!
The glamorous life!”

—Cool C, “The Glamorous Life”

Cool C Glamourous LifeClick here to watch the original video!!

The homage to Philly rappers continues.  There truly are so many talented Philly rappers, past and present, who have made an impact on this culture and on me.  Last week, I discussed Three Times Dope, so of course I must acknowledge EST’s rival at the time, who came out with a song “dissing” EST’s philosophy on “Funky Dividends,”  Cool C (Christopher Roney) with his song “Glamorous Life.”

“Glamorous Life” is definitely a classic party song with a chorus that beckoned all listeners to sing along.  The “oh ohhhhh” is even still utilized by some party goers today, some twenty years later.  Are these specific lyrics actually profound?  Not quite.  But they speak to a deeper societal issue that apparently plagued Cool C later on in his faltering rap career.   Also, so many of us are willing to compromise our ethics and will stop at nothing to attain this appealing “glamorous lifestyle.”

In 1996, Cool C was involved in a botched bank robbery in Philadelphia where he brutally shot a female police officer, Lauretha Vaird, resulting in her death.  Cool C proclaims to be innocent  though the evidence against him proves otherwise.  He was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in 2006 but was granted a stay of execution.  “How glamorous is it to take another person’s life for riches?”

What is the “glamorous life” anyway?  Is it wearing only designer clothing, living in a luxurious home, driving a fancy car  and attaining all of the materialistic items you desire?  Of course, I admire those people who have worked hard, paid their dues, and are now reaping the benefits of a fabulous lifestyle where they want for nothing, but what about those who are willing to rob and kill to attain them?

Perhaps you haven’t robbed or killed anybody , but you have been perpetuating the image of this so-called “glamorous life.” Has it caught up with you as a result of the recession?  Naturally, people want to feel good about themselves or simply want to attain the “dream” of having it all: who doesn’t?  But how glamorous is it to have designer clothes but still live with your parents at 40?   How glamorous is it to receive an eviction or foreclosure notice on a place that is well beyond your means or to to have this wonderful place but only have enough money to pay the mortgage and can’t keep the lights or heat on regularly?  How glamorous is it to see your fancy car being towed away by a repo truck or to not be able to drive it because you can only afford the car payments, not the insurance or gas to fill the tank?

The term glamorous is relative to whom you ask.  Nevertheless, something to consider is once “you got it,” whatever that “it” might be, will you truly be happy?

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Cool C employs an excellent technique to engage listeners and party goers in the chorus of the song “Glamorous Life.”  Chants are common in many African cultures and are usually quite rhythmic.  “Oh ohhh….You got it!  The glamorous life!” is by far one of the most memorable examples of a chant from the late 80s early 90s Philly rap vault.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #15: Homage to Philly Edition

16 Apr

“EST is the one that’s so original 
The boy so live should have his name on your cereal 
Instead of Swatch you wear a sinister watch 
Worn by the suckers who be swearin they clock 
Cause ain’t nobody takin’ my place, you know what I mean? 
Instead of Guess you wear some ES jeans 
Tight around your putang, so when you shake that thang 
Everybody wants you shake it again !”

—Three Times Dope, “Greatest Man Alive”

Three Times DopeClick here to watch the original video!!

This month, I would like to pay homage to some of the Philly rappers from the past and present who have made an impact on this culture and on me.  When I think about a rap group  who not only put Philly on the map on a national and even  international level but also put my neighborhood on the map, I think of Three Times Dope consisting of EST (Robert Waller), Chuck Nice (Walter Griggs) and Woody Wood (Duerwood Beale).

I was in middle school when I was first introduced to this “Acknickulous” trio, and I loved their style while many guys tried to don EST’s hair cut.  As a result of the members being from my neighborhood, the anticipation of possibly meeting them was something else.  Classmates and friends would often claim to be their relatives or neighbors.  These guys really made me feel proud to be from Logan.

Three Times Dope released the song, “Greatest Man Alive ” around 1989, and it was an instant hit and party song.  The beat was booming, and the lyrics and delivery were tight.

What is it that makes these specific lyrics so profound?  It’s the content.  EST was so confident and put forth an entire song full of bravado which was way before it’s time.  In the late 1980s and even early 90s most rappers would simply brag about what type of designer clothing they are wearing lining the pockets of many companies giving them free advertisement in their songs.  But EST cavalierly states that in being the greatest man alive that people should don clothing and even eat cereal with “his” name on the label.  “Cause ain’t nobody takin’ his place!”   Now, almost every rapper has either a clothing or footwear line or perfume or cologne.  The artists are starting to get it!  No if only the rest of us would.

What makes you the greatest “man” or “woman” alive?  Is it what you wear, what you eat or how you present yourself?  Do you follow what the masses do, or do they follow you?  Who’s setting the trends?  EST even embraced being the “unusual” fellow or the “original” while many people just want to fit in with the crowd and sheepishly follow the herd.  Are “you” the greatest man or woman alive?

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
EST of Three Times Dope uses a double negative to stress his point which is commonly used in raps songs, “Cause ain’t nobody takin’ my place, you know what I mean?” It is not uncommon for rap lyrics and many types of creative writing, to use a specific type of vernacular or common day speech because it is the voice of the writer or the persona or it has a better flow or sound because of the syllables or meter in the line. 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.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #14: Homage to Philly Edition

9 Apr

“The most original, amazing, astounding, miraculous
remarkable, startling, sensational, stupendous
music, that has ever been created
is ours – but believe me it was complicated
But we have done it, so now we can breathe
a long awaited sigh of relief
This isn’t a publicity stunt
It’s the raw untouched, pure, hard brand new funk!”

—DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, “Brand New Funk”


This month, I would like to pay homage to some of the Philly rappers from the past and present who have made an impact on this culture and on me.  When I think about a rap group  who really put Philly on the map on a national and even  international level, I think of DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jeff Townes) and the Fresh Prince (Will Smith) without hesitation.

I was in grade school when I was first introduced to this magnificent duo, and they were actually artists played on the radio who my mom even liked.  Of course, some people may complain that Fresh Prince’s lyrics were squeeky clean or “bubble gum” raps, but what’s wrong with that?  I was a little kid and loved his music.  He got the most air play at the skating rink when I was younger.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince released the song, “Brand New Funk” around 1987.  Even though the song was released during the summer, I will never forget the first time I really began listening to the lyrics rather than simply bopping my head to the beat.  My art teacher would allow students to bring in music to listen to as we worked on our classroom projects, and this kid Bernard brought in DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.  The delivery of the lyrics  had me entranced so much that I learned the song line by line.

What is it that makes these lyrics so profound?  Two words:  vocabulary enhancement!  I have always loved learning new words, and “Brand New Funk” helped me to expand my vocabulary.  In many of Fresh Prince’s songs, I’d learn a new word.  There was something “miraculous” about his style.  He was beyond simply using slang and a handful of curse words.  He is one of the reasons I started writing raps.

When is the last time your vocabulary was enhanced as a result of listening to a rap song?  Do you ever look up words recited in rap songs that you don’t know, or do you just sing along never knowing what you’re actually saying?  Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince released many catchy songs throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but this song in particular will always be a classic to me.  How “stupendous” is it to be able to dance to a rap song with a “funky” beat and get a vocabulary lesson simultaneously?

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Fresh Prince employs a couplet rhyme in these lyrics; however, some of them are actually slant rhymes focusing on the assonance (vowel) sound within the word, such as “breathe” and “relief” or “stunt” and “funk.”

Ten Things I’ve Got Planned for 2011: One-Third of the way through (January – April)

3 Apr

Tanya Harris' Vision Board1. Rome was not built in a day, and neither was the ideal body.  Therefore, I will keep working out four to five days a week to be nicely toned for the summer of 2011. I’ve been working out four to five times a week using EA Sports Active which can really give an intense workout and Wii Fit Plus for the yoga components.  I’m also using the “Perfect Sit-up”  to continue tightening up those abs.  Now that the weather is breaking, I’ll be going for more walks and jogs outside.

2. My intellectual, spiritual and creative journey is essential for my well-being, and I will be sure to submit a blog entry at least once a week.  Stop by when you can to check out my new entries. I am happy to report that I have surpassed my goal of publishing one entry per week.  This is my 38th blog submission, and I am shooting for at least 100 entries by the end of the year.

3. I have many gifts, and writing poetry is one of them, so I will relentlessly assert myself to become synonymous with the spoken word and poetry slam circuit.  Who knows, I may complete enough poems to publish a chapbook or have some choice entries in major publications.  It’s been a busy semester and a snowy winter, so I haven’t been able to attend as many spoken word events as I would like, but I am steadily writing and will be a judge for the college’s annual spoken word contest.  Also, I have uploaded some of my spoken word performances on You Tube.  You can find me under Anonomz.

4. People often say, “It’s a small world,” but many of us have yet to leave our own neighborhood, city, or state, let alone the country or continent for that matter.  I plan to travel more extensively this year and hope to visit outside of the country…perhaps for a destination wedding. It is with great pleasure that I am able to say this goal will be met in August when I will be getting married in the Dominican Republic.

5. Everybody is busier than ever and cannot spare a moment for family and friends even though vast amounts of technology are supposed to help people get more done and have more time,.  I will make a more conscious effort to reach out to family and friends and demonstrate my appreciation and love for them the” Old fashioned” way: the occasional phone call, letters, visits and tokens of my appreciation. Even though I have been making an effort to reach out to more family and friends, I may need to work harder.  Sadly, my reaching out has not been reciprocated at the level I hoped it would have been by now.  But I have to keep in mind that many people are busy with their own lives.  My hope is that too much time doesn’t go by before I am able to reconnect with family and friends who are near and dear to me.

6. I love writing and refuse to die with my many stories being left untold; as a result, I will begin working on and brainstorming about  other literary ventures such as colorful stories and children’s book ideas and see where it takes me…maybe to the best seller’s list one day! As a result of taking and acting class and teaching Children’s Literature this semester, so many wonderful ideas have entered my mind, and I’ve been discussing them with my writing buddy as well as my family and friends.  I am hoping to be able to start the writing process when I get more free time in the summer.

7. Health is necessary for longevity.  To continue  improving my financial, physical and spiritual health, I will conduct research and keep working on the economical game plan, exercise regularly and meditate , and read and apply spiritual and motivational literature on a frequent basis. Maintaining one’s health in all aspects can be quite an arduous task.  It’s so easy to lose focus, especially when daily life routines are overwhelming or seem to be never-ending.  I have been, however, writing daily in my gratitude journal for my spiritual health, eating relatively healthy foods, being mindful of my spending habits by following a tight budget and just simply focusing on the positive instead of the negative.

8. “You should be an actor!” is what family, friends and even my students tell me.  I used to act when I was younger and loved being on stage, so I will explore my theatrical abilities by taking a college level acting class in the spring 2011 semester staring January 10.  It’s going to be interesting potentially being in class with some of my own students, but it will be fun I’m sure. Signing up for an acting class was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while.  I’m learning so much and really enjoying every moment.  So far, I’ve performed a monologue from “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show” and written a drama analysis on “The Cherry Orchard,”  and I received A’s on both of them.    I truly am looking forward to the remaining projects and am looking forward to possibly taking a future acting course.

9. As a person who  has finicky eating habits, family and friends jokingly say, “A fancy restaurant for her is a place that serves pizza, chicken or turkey burgers.”  I enjoy fine dining and feel guilty that people are limited in their restaurant selections when going out with me. In an attempt to break out of this habit, I will try at least one new food item every other month…once a month if the mood strikes me. Trying new foods has been difficult for my, but it is with great pleasure that I report that I am on target with my goal of one new food every other month.  So far, I’ve tried a pesto pasta which was not too far out of my comfort zone in January.  Then I tried something that would be extreme for anyone, fried calamari; I must say, it was better than I expected.  I actually had three in February.  In March, I had some shrimp pasta, and it was not bad either.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to try one food a month instead of every other month!

10.  Lastly, in recent years I’ve learned that I cannot be everything to everyone, but year after year I still try to make family, friends, students, and colleagues happy sometimes at my own expense: monetarily, physically and emotionally.  To use an analogy, I love filling up their glasses of water, but I have to make sure my pitcher of water remains filled too in 2011.  This one has been tougher than I expected because I love helping and doing for other people, but I’ve been getting much better at saying no or letting a person know what I am capable of doing so that I am not overwhelmed and able to be revitalized before being totally drained.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

All the best,

Tanya

We’re one-third of the way through in the new year.  Are you still on track with the things you had planned for the new year?  Please feel free to share.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #13: Homage to Philly Edition

2 Apr

“PSK, we’re makin that green
People always say, “What the hell does that mean?”
P for the people who can’t understand
How one homeboy became a man
S for the way we scream and shout
One by one I’m knockin you out
K for the way my DJ kuttin
Other MC’s, man, they ain’t sayin nothin
Rockin on to the brink of dawn
I think, Code Money, yo time is on”

—Schooly D, “PSK, What Does It Mean?”

When people think about the origins of hip hop music, they immediately think of New York.  Of course, much respect is due to New York; however, there were and are many talented rappers who hail from Philadelphia.  This month, I would like to pay homage to some of the Philly rappers from the past and present who have made an impact on this culture and on me.

I was in grade school when Schoolly D released the song, “PSK, What Does It Mean?” in 1986, yet I will never forget the first time I heard it.  While I was outside playing, this guy walked by with a huge boom box on his shoulder with the base blaring for all to hear.  The instrumental was alluring, and the way the guy was rapping over the beat was so mesmerizing; I couldn’t help but bop my head and try to sing along to the catchy hook.  Even though the song was not played within my household, I heard it booming from people’s cars and radios at school, in the neighborhood and at the park.

Are these lyrics the most profound; not quite, but it’s the hidden message behind the entire song that is extremely notable. When I was very young, I learnt about acronyms and thought it was so cool that this guy was using them in a song.  Years later, I learned that PSK did not stand for what I thought it stood for: according to the song.  It actually represented the Park Side Killas, a street gang from West Philadelphia.  I grew up in a neighborhood called Logan, in Northwest Philadelphia and was only a naïve sheltered child, so I knew nothing about  gangs nor West Philadelphia.

In researching further, I found that Schoolly D’s song  is often recognized as one of the most influential gangsta rap songs and played a significant role in the molding of future gangsta rappers such as NWA and Ice-T.  PSK is a perfect example of how some people become so attracted to the beat that they either do not take the time or just are not mature enough to know what the song is really talking about.

When is the last time that you did more than listen to the beat an actually analyze the song?  Do you just automatically sing along or hop out on the dance floor without knowing what the artist is really saying?  Even though I do consider the song to be a classic, Schoolly D taught me a valuable lesson; a song is more than a solid beat and words.  Dig deeper to find the true meaning.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
An acronym is a word created from the first initials in a series of words such as PSK which means Park Side Killas.

Sonnet #6: Who I Am

1 Apr

Tanya Harris aka AnonomzMy life is much more meaningful with you

the evoker of qualities in me.

A life-long bond what I want to pursue;

unleash who I truly am and be free.

Love how you accept me: no exceptions

make me feel proud to be in my own skin.

Focused on us, not people’s perceptions

eternally grateful my dearest friend

Love how you poke fun at my little quirks,

listen to my never-ending stories.

Easy on the eyes is one of the perks.

My love’s intense; fret not about furies.

On my life you left a permanent mark.

Honor and love overflow in my heart.

By Anonomz aka Tanya Harris
Written for and Inspired by SPF