Tag Archives: Lyrics

Profound Hip Hop Quote #28: Ready to Self Destruct?

16 Jul

“I don’t understand the difficulty, people
Love your brother, treat him as an equal
They call us animals mmm mmm I don’t agree with them
I’ll prove them wrong, but right is what your proving them
Take heed before I lead to what I’m sayin’
Or we’ll all be on our knees, prayin’
.” 


—Stop the Violence Movement, formed by KRS One, quoted lyrics by Heavy D “Self Destruction”

Self DestructionAccording to the homicide statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department, there have been 176 homicides this year (including July 15, 2011).  (Crime Maps & Stats)
Of course, this data does not account for other violent crimes such as armed robbery, rape and aggravated assault.   Is there something about the summer or hot weather that causes people to be even more violent than in the winter?  Is it that more people are just outdoors, so they are bound to resort to violence to address issues of contention they may have.

What about when it comes to people of color?  Are some people innately more violent than others, or does the environment in which people are raised or presently residing play significant roles in how they behave?  Last year, there were 306 homicide victims, as reported on Philly.com. Interestingly,  60 of the homicides involved people who were classified as white, and 242 of the homicides involved people who were classified as black.  This means that nearly 20% of the senseless deaths were white people, and nearly 80% were black people.  I am no sociologist or statistician, but this information is alarming.  In regard to neighboring counties and townships, many of them do not have “murder maps” because homicides at the rate they are occurring in Philadelphia would be considered an anomaly in those areas.

What conclusions would you draw if you just went according to the data and did not get to really know the people involved, their plights and struggles? (Not that this in anyway justifies the actions of these violent acts)  “Self Destruction” is a classic rap song where KRS One brought together some of the most renown rappers of the late 80s and early 90s for the “Stop the Violence Movement.”  Even though some of the slang terminology utilized in the song and some of the allusions may be dated, this song sadly still reigns true today.  Most people have heard the phrase, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”  Heavy D uses this very same message in his lyrics, “They call us animals mmmm  mmmm I don’t agree with them. I’ll prove them wrong, but right is what you’re proving them.”  I’ve heard people refer to blacks and latinos animals.  There are even teachers who do not think twice about using such a derogatory term.  Perhaps you don’t care about what “they” think, but do you care about your family, friends, classmates, colleagues, neighbors, etc. who may eventually wind up on their knees praying and mourning the loss of a loved one?  We’re all in this together, or at least we should be.  Don’t let our people, neighborhoods, towns, cities and nations self-destruct!

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Heavy D chose to drop the “g” from the words “sayin” and “prayin” for dialectical and meter  purposes.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #27: I’m Back With Power!!

9 Jul

“Listen, dude, for you that ain’t in the cards
Think the power is in the gun, but over all it’s in your heart


—TI, “I’m Back”
    View Video

TI "I'm Back"TI, aka Clifford Harris, was dubbed the Jay Z of the south, yet has had his share of run-ins with the law and difficulties staying out of trouble. Nevertheless, there’s something special about this guy. Perhaps it’s that we both share the same surname or that my paternal grandparents also hailed from Georgia.  Actually, his profound lyrics and innate “swaggerability” (Yes I just made up a new noun) are two attributes that have made me a follower of his music.  Regardless of what has went on in his personal life, lyrically speaking, this guy is alright with me.

Ironically, TI’s trouble with the authorities has, more times than not, been associated with firearms or artillery charges of some kind, but he elicits a positive reaction from listeners with his lyrics from “I’m Back.”  These in particular lyrics, “Think the power is in the gun, but over all it’s in your heart,” address an issue all too familiar with people living in the inner city and even in rural areas: gun violence.

Even though I’ve never been fond of guns mainly because of the inauthentic power they instill in people who can impulsively take another person’s life within a flash, I do understand why guns have become so prevalent over the years.  Some people carry guns for protection, others carry them with the intention of committing a crime or causing harm, while others simply get an adrenaline rush of power by having guns in their possession and just going to shooting ranges to practice.

However, who are these people without the guns?  What do their hearts reveal?  Is it anxiousness, fear, confusion, desperation, anger or even worthlessness?  Whatever it may be, people must eventually deal with the matters of the heart because that is where the true power begins, and when it comes to violence, let’s hope “for you that ain’t in the cards.” Address those issues first rather than seeking power in an inanimate object that can potentially cause a lifetime of heartache for animated human beings who are passionate about making this world a better place.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
In TI’s profound lyrics, he chooses to omit the pronoun “you” in the second line of his lyrics, “You think the power is in the the gun, but over all it’s in your heart,”  causing the listeners to refer back to the antecedent, “dude” so that they know to whom he is referring.  Also, as a result of TI excluding the pronoun you, this particular line can refer to anyone who believes that the power is in the gun.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #26: Rapping Up Violence

2 Jul

In our community it’s funny how the unity,
it seems to fall from tragedy instead of love from you and me.
As we move from war to peace
and back again while mothers all cry in the streets
from the gunshots.” 


—Nicolay & Kay, featuring Chip Fu “The Gunshot”

If you’ve never heard this song before, it is a “must hear!” 

Nicolay & KayThe summer is supposed to be a time of fun with people enjoying the weather, going to the beach, the park, enjoying family and friends, vacationing, etc. Sadly, the opposing force to these moments of jubilation is violence which plagues some cities more than others.  According to the homicide statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department, there have been 159 homicides this year (including July 1, 2011).  Even though it is 21 percent lower than it was in 2007 (the homicide rate was 202 by July 1st), this is still a relatively high number. Actually, from June 1st to July 1st of this year, there have been 37 homicides; that’s more than one per day! (Crime Maps & Stats)

Yes, it is true that many rappers choose to promote and glorify violence, but that is not always their agenda.  Some actually are quite positive and influential in their communities and want to put an end to gun violence or any type of violence for that matter.  One artist in particular who addresses the need to do something about gun violence is Kay, a Houston, Texas rapper who paired up with Nicolay, the ultimate producer extraordinaire from the Netherlands to compose the classic album “Timeline.”  The production of song, “The Gunshot,” featuring Chip Fu, alone is enough to captivate listeners; however, most people would be able to resonate with and enjoy the profound lyrics of Kay as well.

It is unfortunate that many people with whom I have come in contact with can attest to having a direct or indirect experience with gun violence.  My first experience with gun violence was during my senior year of high school where two of my classmates, in separate incidents, were brutally slain.  Kay makes an observation that is unfortunate as well, “In our community it’s funny how the unity…it seems to fall from tragedy instead of love from you and me.”  Why do many of us wait for violence to strike before we take action?  Why not rally together in masses and take back our neighborhoods from violent offenders rather than have to undergo candle light vigils and teddy bear and balloon shrines for innocent bystanders and children caught in the crossfire?  Can some of these senseless tragedies be prevented with the love and peace from the community to stop the mothers from crying in the streets from the gunshots?

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
In order to make a poem or rap more complex and rhythmic, the writer may employ an internal rhyme, which is a rhyme that occurs within the line of verse.  For example,  the word in the middle of the line will rhyme with the ending word in the line.  “In our community it’s funny how the unity, it seems to fall from tragedy instead of love from you and me.”  In the second line, Kay actually uses assonance, meaning that the rhyme focus is on the vowel sound, specifically “tragedy” and “me.“, rather than the entire words rhyming.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #25: Rappers Need Love Too

25 Jun

“Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.
But I love a whole lot more than I hate about them.
They look good feel good and smell even better,
So why you acting like your mama didn’t use that leather?
B word this H bomb that.
And in the midst all of this I wonder where your moms at?
Cause if she ain’t one, then tell me where the hate from.
You just calm down and maybe you can date one. 


—Murs, “Love & Appreciate 2”


MursMurs is by far one of the best lyricists and storyteller style rappers that I’ve heard in a long time.  Even though his hair is a bit much to take in, I love how he does what he wants to do and doesn’t get wrapped up in having the “perfect” image.  On numerous occasions, Murs has paired up with Ninth Wonder, a producer I’d love to work with one day, and released classic albums that belong in any true connoisseur of real hip hop’s collection.

Love and relationships are two themes that have made appearances on most of his albums.   In 2008, Murs included “Love & Appreciate 2” on his album “Murs for President,” which is actually a follow-up to “Love and Appreciate” on his album “Murray’s Revenge,” released in 2006.  In these particular lyrics, Murs speaks not only for himself as a man but for men in general.  We’ve all heard the cliche phrase, “Can’t live with them, can’t live without them;” however, Murs admits that “he loves a whole lot more than he hates about them.”  Men may groan about what their women are doing to aggravate or frustrate them with their male friends occasionally, and women are definitely known for doing the same, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the love and appreciation you have for one another.

However, Murs, does take it a step further by indicating that there does come a point where some men do cross the line with how they treat and interact with their women or women in general.  He juxtaposes the mothers of these men and the women with whom they are involved or wish to be involved and questions how men treat women .  The implications is that women should be treated with the same respect these very same men would give their mothers. Even though Murs is speaking directly to men, this stance also reigns true with women.  I’ve heard women who often refer to men as dogs or bums even when they’ve done nothing to substantiate being referred to as such.  Is this love and appreciation?

It is necessary to not only show love but appreciation for one another, and how can this be done when you use derogatory words to represent the person you are with or would like to be with.  Is it ever acceptable?  Some people may say, “Well, I only say those things to her or him when I’m angry.” I say that it’s never acceptable, even in anger.  In order to have love and appreciation, one must give respect at all times.  Remember, you get what you give, and if you are still in pursuit of that special person, if “you just calm down and maybe you could date one.”

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Even though I love rap music, if a person was attempting to learn the English language or grammar rules, a rap song would definitely not be the best place to start.  One of the reasons is that several rappers include not just slang but dialects which usually contain blatant grammatical errors throughout their lyrics.  Murs is no exception.  In the following lyrics, Murs has a very common grammatical error which is actually a dialect with the “to be” verb as been dropped from the sentence.  He says,   “So why you acting like your mama didn’t use that leather?”  But if this sentence was put into standard English it would say, “So why are you acting like your mama didn’t use that leather?”  I love slang and dialects, but keep in mind that there is a time and place for standard and what is considered non standard English, a dialect or vernacular of some kind.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #24: Rappers Need Love Too

18 Jun

“Back when I was nothin
You made a brother feel like he was somethin
That’s why I’m with you to this day boo no frontin


—Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige, “You’re All I Need”

Method ManThe Wu-Tang Clan is one of my favorite rap groups of all time.   These guys were like the “Justice League” of hip hop during the 1990s and 2000s.  Each member has a special power such as lyrical ability, producing skills or just stage presence.  I have always resonated with their grungy, diggin’ in the crates, raw, passionate sound, especially Method Man’s.

Of course, I could not help but think about my affinity for Method’s song “You’re All I Need,” featuring the talented Mary J. Blige, as a meaningful and heartfelt rap “love” song.  What initially draws listeners in is the chorus and sample from the original classic performed by Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell–bridging the gap between past and present generations.  However, instead of selecting the memorable chorus to represent this song, I decided to go with lyrics from the song that echo the importance of being supportive towards one another unconditionally within a relationship.

Most women expect a lot from their men, and men have the right to expect a lot from their women as well.  Nevertheless, from my observation, there appears to be an imbalance.  Oftentimes, most women are willing to give their men the support they need; unfortunately, they are rarely acknowledged by their men for their unyielding encouragement.  In “You’re All I Need,” Method gives praise and appreciates his woman’s actions, “Back when I was nothin you made a brother feel like he was somethin.”

Sadly, I also have  witnessed some women tearing down and even emasculating their good, caring, hard working men.  They utter scathing phrases such as, “You ain’t nothing!” “You can’t do nothing for me” “You’re such a loser,” etc. right in front of family and friends without hesitation.    It’s much easier to be there for somebody who has everything than to be there for a person who is striving to obtain the better things in life and to accomplish concrete goals.  Would you be more indebted to a person who is only there for you when you can give them all that they want or with a person who works with you and supports you even when everything may not go as planned? “That’s why I’m with you to this day boo no frontin.”

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
It is not uncommon for rap lyrics and many types of creative writing to drop the “ing” sound on a word to demonstrate 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. In this instance, Method Man drops the “g” from “nothin,” “somethin” and “frontin.”  Also, he uses the all too common slang word “boo”  as a synonym for his “lady.”  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 #23: Rappers Need Love Too

11 Jun

“I just want you to know
Your whole being is beautiful
I’ma do the best I can do
Cause I’m my best when I’m with you


—Common featuring Mary J. Blige, “Come Close”

I love hip hop music and culture! The raw passion of some of the artists, their lyrical finesse and swagger is what ultimately captivates me.  I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with rap music from the days of Pre-K to present day; however, one attribute has remained constant: the love!

CommonAs I continue my month long tribute of the best rap “love” songs, I must acknowledge that I’ve had a multitude of crushes on different artists, but one that continues to persists is my enamored feelings for Common.   I have been following his career since he appeared in The Source under “Unsigned Hype,” seen him in concert on numerous occasions and am still an avid fan.  It’s not just his urbane look or swagger that attracts me but his humbleness and sincerity that comes across in his lyrics.  Common has released many rap “love” songs over the years, but one that I really resonate with is “Come Close” featuring Mary J. Blige.

Though Common is a strong man, his song displays his gentleness and vulnerabilities as he exhibits the necessity to have a strong woman by his side.  Wow, how often does a rapper do that?  He acknowledges that this woman of interest is not a mind reader by explicitly stating, “I just want you to know your whole being is beautiful.”  Sometimes a woman needs to hear what her man is thinking and not just assume.  Such a statement also helps to make her feel wanted, that is considering that the comment is sincere.  Furthermore, Common does not simply say, “You are beautiful,” but “Your whole being is beautiful.”  When is the last time you complimented someone of were complimented on your whole being not just your looks alone?

In two months I will be starting the chapter of marriage in the book of my life.  Quite frequently people say, a relationship or marriage is a lot hard work and requires dedication and some give and take.  Common also provides some terrific advice by stating, “I’ma do the best that I can do.”  Do people really put forth their best efforts in relationships or just get comfortable…maybe too comfortable over time?

When you “Come Close” to experiencing love or are immersed in it, do you think about what makes your relationship so sacred or special?  Have you thought about what that special person has done or will do for your life?  The media often uses the term “power couple” to describe the hollywood elites, but cannot common day people be power couples.  The ideal situation is to be in a relationship where you both bring out the best in each other.  Can say to the person you’re with, “I’m my best when I’m with you?”

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Common often incorporates poetic techniques such as slant and assonance rhymes, and this song is no exception.
“I just want you to know
your whole being is beautiful…”

In this instance, Common uses the “Oh” sound as part of his rhyme.  Some people may argue that this is not a rhyme; nevertheless, this is a common practice among past and present poets and allows that writer to manipulate and play with the language.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #22: Rappers Need Love Too

4 Jun

“When I’m alone in my room sometimes I stare at the wall
and in the back of my mind I hear my conscience call
Telling me I need a girl who’s as sweet as a dove
for the first time in my life, I see I need love


—LL Cool J, “I Need Love”


There’s no denying that rap music and rock n’ roll are both synonymous with sex, drugs and money, so it is quite refreshing when a rapper pours his or her heart out on an abstract topic from time to time.  In a little over two months from now, I will be getting married.  With the feelings of love and excitement increasing, I thought, “Why not put together a compilation of some of the best rap love songs of all time?”

LL Cool JOf course, I must start off with a classic from my childhood when I first starting having crushes on boys and thinking about how it would feel to be in love.  Any female who was around during the late 80s who was into rap music more than likely had a crush on LL Cool J, and I was no exception. Enormous posters of him, along with a few of my other crushes, covered  my bedroom wall, and when he released the song, ” I Need Love,” I would often gaze at his pictures totally mesmerized and  fantasize about being the girl in the video.

LL’s song presents a thought-provoking revelation that most people will have at one point or another in their lives.  To begin with “When I’m alone in my room…” may involve some deep meditation.  In 2011, nearly 25 years later, there are a plethora of technology and media outlets to distract us from being pensive and thinking about what we really want and need out of life.  LL is “staring at the wall…” not texting, tweeting, updating his facebook status or checking the status of others.  When is the last time you had some “alone” time to think about what you really want or need in your present or future relationship or life for that matter?  It’s extremely difficult to “hear your conscience call” if there are too many distractions let alone brain chatter.

Even though I am no expert, as a result of being in a long term relationship and observing the relationships of others, I’ve learned that everybody is not looking for the same attributes in a significant other.  Over time, people may even realize that what they previously wanted is not what they presently need in a relationship.

Studies have shown that love is a necessity, and it actually plays a significant role in how healthy people are and even their ability to recover from illnesses.  It does not necessarily have to be romantic love, but being in love, feeling love or even giving love can add years to one’s life. Have you experienced love or being in love?  When is the last time you displayed love to those who matter most in your life?  We all need love!

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
LL Cool J experiences an epiphany in his rap song “I Need Love.”  He proclaims,  “For the first time in my life, I see I need love…”  An epiphany is a moment of sudden revelation or insight.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #20: Homage to Philly Edition

21 May

“Now while you grittin your teeth
Frustration baby you gotta breathe
Take a lot more than you to get rid of me
You see I do what they can’t do, I just do me.”

—Eve, featuring Gwen Stefani “Let Me Blow Ya Mind”

Click here to view the video!!

EveAlas, this is the eighth profound hip hop quote specifically paying homage to Philly with one more to go.  There’s so many to name, but you know I’ve got to include another female artist who has made herself known in the early 2000s and still reigns today, Eve, full name, Eve Jihan Jeffers.

Eve is one of the most influential female rappers or rappers from Philly, period, to see national and international success.  Actually, she deserves to be lauded for expanding her rap career into television, film and even fashion.

In “Let Me Blow Ya Mind,” Eve commands respect from all competitors, haters and listeners while declaring an all-out women’s empowerment movement with the help of Gwen Stefani.  What makes her lyrics profound is, as she put it, “I just do me.”  She’s not concerned with pleasing or appeasing others and  is simply doing what she sees fit, not what others may expect.

Do you allow others to dictate your success or lack of success for that matter?  Of course, emulation is sometimes a necessity to do well in life, but emulating greatness and surpassing it is totally different than simply copying someone else.  Do you feel as confident in your ability as Eve is in hers to be unyielding in the face of doubters and competitors?

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Whether it be intentional or on a subconscious level, words are not arbitrarily selected in poetry or music.  In these specific lyrics by Eve, she utilizes repetition as a technique to show emphasis.  For instance, the pronoun “you” is present in each line for a total of four times, and she incorporates the pronoun “me” just two times in the last two lines.  From this observation, one could deduce that this song is more so about addressing the competition and letting them know what she will tolerate rather than her justifying who “she” is and why she does what she does.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #19: Homage to Philly Edition

14 May

“My aura is psychedelic flow non-prehistoric metamorphic boric like
acid no hat tricks a classic so park that ass like Jurassic and check
the matrix completed like 7 (seven) to overshadow the triple 6 (six)
complimenting zig-a-zicks with wisdom like the 5 percenters when doing
mathematics flips scripts like acrobatics intrinsic in rapping.”

—Bahamadia, “Wordplay”

Click here to hear the song!!

BahamadiaThis is the seventh profound hip hop quote specifically paying homage to Philly, and I feel extremely guilty because I have yet to acknowledge some of the female artists who have and are doing their thing to put Philly on the map.   There’s no denying that the “rap game” is male dominated, but there are many women who reign supreme when it comes to lyrical ability, and Bahamadia, aka Antonia Reed, is definitely one of them.

Even though Bahamadia may not have seen the same level of success as some of her counterparts, she has been revered locally, nationally and internationally as a lyrical wordsmith.   Though her voice is monotone, there’s something melodic and soothing about her flow, and her wittiness and lyrical finesse was what initially made me a fan when I first heard her in the 90s.

Rap plus Bahamadia automatically equals profoundness.   These specific lyrics from wordplay are representative of her mastery of language. Most rappers back then and even now do not possess such prowess or the deftness to deliver as she does.   One line alone could devour all challengers; “No hat tricks a classic so park that ass like Jurassic.”

When is the last time you heard a female or any artist deliver such crafty wordplay and require you to possess a certain level of expansive knowledge to be able to decipher his or her content?  Much respect is due to Bahamadia; thanks for representing Philly to the fullest!

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
If you haven’t figured it out, Bahamadia’s “Wordplay” has a deluge of well-crafted literary elements.  It encompasses similes, metaphors, hyperboles, allusion, assonance, consonance, slant rhymes, etc.  For example, “No hat tricks a classic so park that ass like Jurassic,”  contains a simile “park that ass like Jurassic,” an allusion because it would be necessary to be familiar with  Jurassic Park” in order to get the cleverness of the line and consonance and assonance simultaneously as she uses the “s” sound and “a” sound for emphasis and to improve the flow of the rhyme.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #18: Homage to Philly Edition

7 May

“Tell you one lesson I learned
If you want to be something in life
You ain’t gonna get it unless
You give a little bit of sacrifice
Ooohh, sometimes before you smile you got to cry
You need a heart that’s filled with music
If you use it you can fly
If you want to be high.”

—The Roots featuring Nelly Furtado, “Sacrifice”

Click here to watch the video!!

The RootsIt’s the start of a new month, and there are still so many talented Philly rap artists who have made an impact on this culture and on me who I did not get to mention in April.  So I’ve decided to extend my homage to Philly rappers through the month of May.  When I think of one of the most talented rap groups to date who encompasses the complete package of lyrical ability, originality, style, and stage presence, I think of “The Legendary Roots Crew.”  These guys not only put Philly on the map but also put the United States on the map for producing some of the most innovative, talented artists.  I was in high school when I was first exposed to The Roots, and I ran their first full-length album, “Do You Want More,” into the ground.  What initially captivated me about The Roots was their sound; who ever heard of a rap group with a band who did more than just sample?  It was unlike anything I had ever heard before and is more than likely the reason for their longevity in the music industry today.

What is it that makes this specific song so profound?  Well, before I get into that, I must say that The Roots have an arsenal of profound lyrics, and I could potentially do a month dedicated to them.  Nevertheless, I selected this particular song, “Sacrifice” and the chorus of the song as profound because Black Thought (featuring Nelly Furtado) is doing much more than “spitting a few lines;” he’s evoking listeners to think by presenting us with words to live by.

We all want better lives for ourselves, but at what cost are we willing to pay or how much are we willing to endure to attain those dreams and goals?  Many people have a sense of entitlement and don’t want to work for anything.  Some people give up easily if there are a few barriers in their way.  Most people have heard the old adage,  “The best things in life are worth fighting for,” but Black Thought takes it a step further in acknowledging that sometimes we all most cry before we can smile.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
The Roots’ lead rap artist, Black Thought, is an exceptional lyricist and often employs many of the different literary elements found in some of the most well written poems of our time.  In this in particular chorus, he uses a lot of figurative language, which is the opposite of literal.  This means that what is being presented is either not plausible or possible or even exaggerated. What does it mean to have “A heart that’s filled with music?”  Think about the causes and effects associated with music and how many genres exist.  Music can be in accordance with your mood, or it can assist in changing your mood.  As you make sacrifices, shuffle to the appropriate music (literally and figuratively) to see you through, and eventually you will be able to fly high with a smile on your face.