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.”

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