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Profound Hip Hop Quote #48: A Blue Sky is “Common” Where I’m From

21 Jan

“Day light beams, night light schemes
This is my Inception, I’m writing my dreams
Immortal view of a star doing what I’m born to do
I see the blue sky, say the Lord’s coming through “

—“Blue Sky” by Common (Featuring Makeba on vocals)

Common Blue Sky

Most people are happy to hear the meteorologist say, “Today is going to be sunshine and blue skies” when they check the weather forecast, and the reason is obvious.  People tend to associate blue skies with good weather or even beautiful weather for that matter because it usually means that there will be no clouds, rain, snow or any storm brewing on the horizon.  With blue skies, it is very seldom necessary to cancel outdoor plans such as picnics in the park, a sporting event or just simply sitting outside and enjoying some fresh air.

Figuratively speaking, there is something awe inspiring about the blue sky.  I correlate it with a higher power,  hope and dreams, as does Common in his song entitled “Blue Sky” off of his ninth studio album, “The Dreamer/The Believer.”  Have you ever thought about how some areas of the world have blue skies a minimum of ninety percent of the time while others are lucky if they experience a blue sky with no precipitation ten percent of the time?  Common presents this juxtaposition of worlds, “daylight beams, night light schemes” which can be interpreted on multiple levels.  Someone else’s daylight is another person’s night light.  Also, to beam is to radiate and reflect the light.  Whereas schemes can be underhanded actions covertly done with the intention of accomplishing something in an unscrupulous way.  Furthermore, we all have our moments when the “blue sky” is shrouded in darkness, but it is pertinent to remember that the blue sky is still present, and we can still scheme through the night, in a positive way, to reach our goals by day light.

Have you ever been so busy or consumed with your daily routines that you don’t stop to admire the beauty of the blue sky and breathe in the fresh air of the day?  I love to just daydream and look up at the sky as I think about all of my aspirations as I reach for the sky.  In wonderment, I reflect about life and if I’m on the right path and if I’m doing what I’ve been called to do.  “This is my Inception, I’m writing my dreams,” Common proclaims.  Looking up to the sky is just the initial step; it is when we come to the realization that we write our own dreams, and each day, with the blue sky above us, from the inception of those dreams, we must think about what we have done, are doing or plan to do make them a reality.

We are all immortal views of stars.  Our actions today will have a impression on the people of tomorrow.   The problem is that many of us are to searching for what we were born to do.  What’s wonderful about the figurative blue sky is connects us to God.  When we are unsure, when our faith begins to waver, when we just need our hope and determination in our dreams restored, we can look up to the blue sky and be reminded that life is beautiful and that we are not alone.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin

Bonus English Lesson:
When it comes to figurative language, Common is as adept as they come.  To select one example, Common using an allusion when he says, “This is my Inception.”  He is making a reference to the movie Inception and employs an extended metaphor where the blue sky represents God.

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Profound Hip Hop Quote #47: A “Rek” in the 25th Hour

31 Dec

“We are in the 25th hour it’s now or never
We got to get .. forever remember
Time waits for no man
what’s your plan? “

—“25th Hour” by Reks (Produced by DJ Premier)

ReksWith less than 24 hours left in the new year, I pondered, “what would be a profound rap song to close out 2011?”  Then I thought about the song 25th hour by Reks (Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme).  Now if you’re scratching your head trying to figure out who or what in the world REKS is, I was in the same position of wonderment about a half a year ago.  My husband actually put me on to the Boston native who has a butter, quick witted flow but has, for the most part, remained in the underground circuit.

On his third studio, he paired up with DJ Premier to deliver the “25th Hour.”  Most people, at some point, are guilty of saying, “I’ll get around to it tomorrow,” “I’ll start my goal in the new year,” or “I’ve still got time.”  Nevertheless, there are moments when the sense of urgency is building, and “it’s now or never.”   Think about all of the goals, hopes and dreams that you might have deferred thinking you have more time to get around to achieving them.

It’s necessary to have that passion and determination to get to your destination in life.  On countless occasions, people have asked for more time or wished that they had just one more hour in the day to get tasks accomplished.  Let’s say there was a 25th hour….how many people would use it effectively, and how many would use it to get an extra hour of sleep?  Remember, as Reks says, “Time waits for no man…what’s your plan?”

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin

Bonus English Lesson:
Reks not  uses a hyperbole. “We are in the 25th hour”  is an exaggeration utilized to stress the importance of time or lack thereof.  Also, Reks utilizes personification.    “Time waits for no man”  Many people have uttered this adage; however, time is given a human characteristic as though we can negotiate with it.


Profound Hip Hop Quote #46: It’s Like a Jungle Sometimes, So Listen for the Message

3 Dec

“Don’t push me ‘cuz I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under “

—“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

The MessageWho hasn’t heard the statement “It’s like a jungle sometimes?”  Released over a three decades ago, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s  rap song, “The Message” still reigns true today and is a timeless classic; why would it not be profound?  Of course, some of the references made in the song may not apply today or may have evolved into other issues, but most people who grew up in the 80s or even the 90s are familiar with the hook and sing along passionately as they swing on vines and vines of problems and truck through the muck and the mire of life.

There is a sense of urgency and intense emotion expressed in the hook.  “Don’t push me ‘cuz I’m close to the edge.”  How do people really know when they are “close to the edge?” Most use their intuition and draw conclusions based on how they are feeling, what they can see, how their current circumstances look and sometimes what others tell them?  Why do some people invite the “edge” and view it as an opportunity to improve their survival instincts rather than a frightening ordeal where they will not survive should they be “pushed” over the edge?

If you agree with the statement, “It’s like a jungle sometimes,” then why not plan accordingly?  If you see the “edge” coming or know that its approach is imminent, why not strategize how you will handle it?  Will you jump to the nearest vine, try to back pedal in hopes of preventing the inevitable, jump clear over the edge because you just can’t take it anymore or do nothing and pretend that the edge does not exist, resulting in your eventual downfall?

We all have our own jungles involving work, school, finances, relationships, family, etc. Our survival instincts are what keep us “from goin’ under,” but it is our preparation and intense training for the “jungle” that not only makes life bearable but challenges people so that they cannot only see what they are capable of handling but to help them get to the beautiful aspects of this “jungle.”  Who do you think would be the most industrious and resourceful and manage to fair well in life: the person who has tackled the swamp, quick sand and crocodiles of life head on or the person who constantly complains and is too scared to face the challenges presented, focusing more so on the gooey swamp water rather than how they are going to successfully get to the other side by finding a vine? How are you surviving in this jungle of life?

Please feel free to share your though

~Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin

Bonus English Lesson:
The Message uses the simile, “It’s like a jungle sometimes”  to demonstrate how difficult and challenging life can be.  To use a jungle indicates that it is quite likely that only those who have survival instincts will make it through.  Also, the song uses an idiomatic expression which contains a hyperbole.  “Don’t push me ‘cuz I’m close to the edge.  I’m trying not to lose my head…”  Of course, there is not a literal “edge,” but the phrase suggests that he is unable to endure any more of the circumstances of life and that the next issue may result in a nervous breakdown.  Furthermore, a person cannot actually lose his or her head, unless there was a guillotine  or another sharp instrument involved, but a person can lose his or her mental capacities due to being overwhelmed by stressful situations.

Take a look at my rendition of “The Message” for my students.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #45: Ready to Camp Lo for that “Luchini”

26 Nov

“This is it (What?!)
Luchini pourin’ from the sky
Lets get rich (What?!)
The cheeky vines
The sugar dimes
Cant quit (What?!)
Now pop the cork and steam the vega
And get lit (What?! What?! What?!)”
 

—“Luchini” by Camp Lo


Camp LoWhile listening to the funky jazz influenced rap song “Luchini” by Camp Lo the other day, I pondered if it could still get hip-hop heads out of their seats rapping along with the chorus today.   If you were into rap music during the mid to late 90s, you should have definitely had Camp Lo in your rotation.  Both Sonny Cheeba (Salahadeen Wilds) and Geechi Suede (Saladine Wallace) possess lyrical finesse and laid back styles which caused me to be an instant follower of their music.  Actually, just this year, they partnered up with Pete Rock to release “80 Blocks from Tiffany’s,” but these brothers will always be known for  the classic song “Luchini.”

What is it that makes “Luchini” so profound?  It’s the vernacular the duo uses as they get heads grooving to their flow.  Almost every line of their rhymes requires some decoding and translating.  People might know the lyrics and be able to rap along, but if you were to ask them for an interpretation, many would draw blanks or make educated guesses and possibly be wrong.  First off, some might not even know what “luchini” is; however, if forced to conjecture, the assumption would be that it is about money since it’s “pourin’ from the sky.”  Also, the following line says, “Let’s get rich” which indicates that “luchini” is some form of riches.  In the hook alone, references are made to “cheeky vines,” “sugar dimes,” “pop the cork,” “steam the vega” and “get lit.” It’s no wonder the main word to follow the lines is “What!”  However, this is what I love about this song; a hip hop dictionary is in order for anyone who is not or was not up on their slang, vernacular or regionalisms during that time.

This song not only has a catchy, “rap along hook” and mellow yet funky beat, it also demonstrates how simple colloquialisms can be lost in translation; nevertheless, the slang terminology is what gives people their own unique way of communicating and definitely one of the key features that made this song stand out from the rest and stand the test of time.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

~Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin

Bonus English Lesson:
To use the word “What” after most of the lines in the hook is an example of a chant or in this instance and “call and response.”  It has a significant contribution to the song and works as a tool to engage the listeners.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #44: Nobody’s Safe Chumps: Serious As a Heart Attack!

19 Nov

“I must stay focused and keep my mind open
The world’s mass confusion, there’s mad guns smoking
For punks trying to get respect and yearning
Mess around and catch a bad one from Erick Sermon”

—“Nobody’s Safe Chump” by EPMD

EPMDEPMD: Erick and Parrish Making Dollars was and still is one of my all-time favorite hip-hop duos.  It is all about the business with these guys who actually have an album scheduled to release in 2012.  However, being all about business often causes people to neglect other areas of their lives and may eventually present problems that “nobody’s safe” from: health issues.  Last Saturday, November 12, it was reported that Erick Sermon, of EPMD suffered from a heart attack.  Even though he is expected to recover, he is only in his early 40s and should not have to worry about having a heart attack.  This news comes shortly after the untimely death of Heavy D.

With these two incidents so close together and with both of them being fully aware of the  risk of being unhealthy, overweight or obese, I thought it would be good to reflect on how nobody’s safe from a heart attack, cancer, diabetes or any other ailment; however, there are so many steps that we can take to either lessen our chances of having a health problem or at least lessen the severity.  I’m no doctor, but it should be obvious that if you eat junk food regularly, do not exercise, smoke and drink excessively and even have toxic relationships, then you are increasing your chances of dying young or experiencing a painful death at the hands of a heart attack due to the decisions you are making.

Of course, it is difficult for many to be health nuts, but “you must stay focused and keep your mind open.”  I’ve never smoked, consumed alcohol or used drugs before; however, I have battled with junk food.  For the past few years, I’ve been on a serious health kick but allow myself to have pizza, a slice of cake or any of my other vices in moderation.  The issue for most is “out of sight out of mind.”  If our skin was translucent and we could see the damage we were doing to our organs and how we were damaging our bodies, I think more people would be more conscientious when it comes to their eating habits and willingness to live sedentary lifestyles with little to no physical activity. I know it certainly does help me when I think in those terms.

Having a heart attack has to cause “mass confusion.”  I do not know what Erick Sermon’s eating habits or lifestyle is, but he, as well as Parrish Smith are one of my favorite rap duos of all time.  I hope he uses this brush with death to promote healthy living so that his loyal fans will be able to enjoy the upcoming album.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

~Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin


Profound Hip Hop Quote #43: Tell Me The Way I Am

12 Nov

“And I am, whatever you say I am
If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?”
 

—“The Way I Am” by Eminem

Eminem
Who and what dictates who you are?  Is it your actions, what you say, your appearance or what others say about you?  More than likely, it is a combination of all four.  Just because you may believe you are a nice person, does that make it so?  What have you done or said to demonstrate how nice of a person you are?  If others who know you well were asked to describe you, would they say that you are a nice person?

Released over a decade ago, Eminem’s song, “The Way I Am” is quite inflammatory as it addresses the issues that he has with the media’s perspective of him as a rapper and person.  Eminem might have controversial lyrics; however, those very same lyrics are usually quite profound.  In this instance, the actual chorus can be applied to anyone’s life. 

Most people would like others to have kind and positive words to say about who they are.  Nevertheless, is it necessary to care about how other people may perceive us to the point where we live our lives for them?  Do we sometimes allow the perceptions that people have about us to dictate our future behaviors: better known as the self-fulfilling prophecy.  For instance, are those mothers who tell their sons, “You ain’t nothin’ and ain’t never gonna be nothin’ just like your dead beat father” setting them up to actually be nothing because they believe they are what their mom’s say they are?

You are who you say you are, but be mindful of your actions, appearance and how you say what you say because it does play a significant role in how others will perceive you.  Also, do not allow the negative perceptions that people may have of you to dictate your journey in the future.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

~Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin

Profound Hip Hop Quote #42: He Had His Own Thang “RIP Heavy D”

9 Nov

“Don’t clock anybody, let them all clock you
Don’t be down with anybody, let them all be down with you
Stay self-managed, self-kept, self-taught
Be your own man, don’t be borrowed, don’t be bought
Started with a pow and I’m going to end it with a bang
We’ve got our own thang”
 

—“We Got Our Own Thang” by Heavy D and the Boyz

Heavy D And The Boyz Dwight Myers…The Overweight lover…Heavy D!  If you grew up listening to rap music in the late 80s and 90s Heavy D. and the Boyz should have received some play in your tape deck or CD player. Promoting positive and fun-loving messages, this group was a breath of fresh air, and Heavy D. proved that overweight brothers had something to offer and could get down and dance with the best of them.

Upon hearing about Heavy D’s untimely death, in pensive mood, I thought about what made him and his lyrics so special.  Then it came to me.  The title of one of his very songs sums up what it was: “We Got Out Own Thang.”  During the early 90s gangsta rap started to become more prevalent and devastated the market of fun, light-hearted raps with uplifting messages.  Despite the shrinking fan base or potential promotion from record labels, artists such as Heavy D and the Boyz, Fresh Prince and Kid and Play kept going strong.  In “We Got Our Own Thang” Heavy emphatically wants listeners to be themselves and not succumb to others or fall victim to peer pressure.  “Don’t clock anybody; let them all clock you.  Don’t be down with anybody, let them all be down with you.”

Furthermore, Heavy addresses those who want to be nothing more than carbon copies of the originators as well as those who are willing to perpetuate false personae if the price is write.  Perhaps some present day  entertainers who call themselves “rappers” should take heed to this advice.  “Stay self-managed, self-kept, self taught.  Be your own man, don’t be borrowed, don’t be bought.”

Heavy D indeed did “start with a pow and end with a bang” and went on to be a quite successful record executive and actor.  It truly saddens me that Heavy D. and the Boyz have yet to receive praise during one of the Hip Hop Honors award shows.  Let’s not allow those other artists who have paid the way to go unacknowledged and then receive homage posthumously.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

~Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin

Bonus English Lesson:
Heavy D uses slang to drive his point homethe word “clock”  In this instance, it is similar to “jocking” or fawning over a person.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #41: Drake Tickles My “Fancy”

29 Oct

“And you don’t do it for the man, men never notice
you just do it for yourself; you’re the f*%$^*g coldest
intelligent too ooh you’re my sweetheart
I’ve always liked my women book and street smart”
 

—“Fancy” by Drake featuring T.I. and Swiss Beats

DrakeWhy do people, specifically women, take painstaking measures to beautify themselves?  Of course, most people do like to look nice and uphold a certain image, but how much of that necessity or desire is for themselves, and how much of it is to be noticed by potential suitors or to keep the current love interest captivated?  The typical woman could spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month on hair, make-up, clothing, handbags and other accessories all in the name of looking good, or “fancy” if you will, but does all of this work really tickle the fancy of the typical man?

On Drake’s album Thank Me Later, his song “Fancy” briefly  addresses this issue.  No doubt, most men want a woman who takes pride in her appearance because it demonstrates that she cares about herself.  However, this interpretation may not always be accurate.  Some women do everything in accordance with what they think men or their man may want and may actually not be happy with themselves and lack self-esteem. Some women (and men) let themselves go because they have become too comfortable within the relationship, which could mean that it was always about looking good for their man or men in general, not for themselves.  Drake proclaims, “…you don’t do it for the man, men never notice…you just do it for yourself…”

Men want a woman who looks good because in actuality her fancy style might be what initially attracted him; however, most men who are serious about a woman will eventually be interested in her intellect.  A woman can have a beautiful outer shell or at least be able to create the illusion of having a beautiful outer shell with the hair, make-up, clothing and other accessories, but how long will that shell suffice?

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

~Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin

Bonus English Lesson:
Drake uses slang to drive his point home about the “fancy” women
“you just do it for yourself; you’re the f*%$^*g coldest”
To refer to someone as the “coldest” could be interpreted as a person who is distant and unapproachable; however, it can also mean that the person is “cool,” which in this instance means the best!

Profound Hip Hop Quote #40 Head West When It All Falls Down!

22 Oct

“Man I promise, she’s so self conscious
She has no idea what she’s doing in college
That major that she majored in don’t make no money
But she won’t drop out, her parents will look at her funny”
 

—“All Falls Down” by Kanye West

Kanye WestWhy do people decide to go to college?  Is it now a necessity in order to be successful and achieve one’s dreams?  No doubt, I’m all for education, but decades ago, people could obtain their high school diplomas and fair well in the job market if academics was just not their strong suit.  Now, landing a good paying job without a college degree or a vocational trade would be considered an anomaly unless a person is starting his or her own business. As a result, there are an increasing amount of people who either recently graduated from high school or who have been laid off from their jobs enrolling in college when they are not necessarily academically prepared making it an uphill battle.  Of course, it is possible for people with determination to overcome their academic shortcomings in math and English and any other courses that may present hurdles. However, how many of them actually go the extra mile to jump those hurdles or even know what they need to do while in college?  How many know what they want to do after college or what it takes to be successful after completing college?

We have officially reached the halfway point at my college, and some students sadly do not take their college careers seriously and may be there simply because their parents made them or just because they don’t know how to be good students (focused, no procrastinating and organized, etc.). I genuinely care about all of my students and hope they will one day attain their goals, but this revelation about some students not being as invested in the learning process or the end result is nothing new.  It is the way it was when I was a college student too.  Nevertheless, this got me thinking about the first verse of Kanye West’s song “All Falls Down” from his freshmen album.

Going to college and sometimes working and having a family can be overwhelming and stressful to say the least.  That is why it is essential to plan accordingly so that it does not “all fall down,” or “when it all falls down” you are prepared to pick up the pieces and start again. If you “have no idea what your doing in college,” take some time to figure it out.  I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I’ve always had an affinity towards English and literature, so that was my major in undergrad.  Even though I’ve always been a diligent and hardworking student, I later learned that the “major I majored in don’t make no money.”  If only I had done the extensive research, I would have alleviated some stress and anxiety about landing my “dream” job.  Through my experience, I came to realize that money is not everything and that I am glad that I selected a major that allows me to teach and be immersed in a subject I am passionate about: English!

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

~Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin

Bonus English Lesson:
Kanye West uses a double negative which is common in slang and hip-hop dialect to stress his point and also utilizes the non-standard verb choice for third person plural not third person singular.  This method also minimizes the syllables for the rhythm of the line.
“That major she majored in don’t make no money.” (Twelve Syllables)
The standard English version would be, “That major she majored in doesn’t make any money.”  (Fourteen Syllables)

Profound Hip Hop Quote #39 Bound to “Miss” Spell

15 Oct

“I S-P-E-L-L very W-E-L-L
I only spell so all can T-E-L-L
Rhymes I got or write will S-E-L-L
For rappers who don’t believe me go to H-E-L-L.
” 

—“Spellbound” by K-Solo

K-Solo SpellboundDo you know how to spell well?  Do you think it’s even necessary to know how to spell well? Really…there’s spell check, and most smart phones even auto fill the words for you, so you don’t have to even think about how to spell a word.  As an English professor, I am obviously biased and believe that it is not only important to know how to spell but an absolute necessity in more circumstances than people realize.

Yesterday, I was listening to a local news report on a woman who has been prosecuted for falsifying doctor’s notes and even a report claiming that she had terminal cancer in order to receive paid time off and to dupe the company and coworkers out of money to support her battle against “this so-called cancer.”  Low and behold, the woman was eventually caught because of the many misspellings and misused words in her “doctored” doctor’s notes.  Just imagine…if this woman knew how to spell she might have gotten away with this unsavory deception for quite a while longer.

Hearing this report got me thinking about the old school rap song by K-Solo, “Spellbound.”  What makes this song so profound is that he actually spells out some of the words in order to not only create a rhyme but to demonstrate his lyrical finesse.  How many people can honestly say they “S-P-E-L-L very W-E-L-L?” If you think spelling is not important, just ask people who read employment applications and resumes.  Companies receive hundreds and hundreds of applications and need to find ways to minimize the applicant pool.  One way is to get rid of those applicants who do not know how to spell well or who do not even take the time to proofread their spelling.  Think about the instances in your life when it is necessary to spell well or at least have the ability to double check your spelling for accuracy. Even if you do use spell check, that does not guarantee that you are spelling the word you want to use properly.

MisspellingThere are times when I have been to stores that have misspellings, and it drives me nuts.  We are all bound to misspell, but it is pertinent to think about the negative impression or possible confusion you may cause from your misspelling.  I took this picture of a local supermarket with a job opportunity. If I was interested in the position, I’d have some difficulties applying because there is no “Cutomer Service Desk.”

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Even though spellbound is a creative rap, the rhyme technique is rather simplistic because it uses basic words to develop the rhyme pattern.  I’d love to hear a modern day spellbound rhyme with more complex vocabulary words.