Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The Literacy in Rap

        As a child, reading was never my strong point.   It was always difficult for me to read at a pace that was exciting to me, that is until I discovered the art of rap.  Becoming a rapper would As a child and teen, I barely read a book and when I did read, I found myself spending more time trying to understand what I was reading than enjoying what I read through visualization.  In High School I always found myself trying to escape my English classes by any means necessary.  It wasnt until I started to pick up a pen and write my own lyrics, that I would start to realize that I could not keep running away from words.  Around this same time of trying to discover myself and my future endeavor, I began to read and study the Quran as my curiosity had me also wanting to learn more about the Nation of Islam.  Little did I know, this would help me to build my vocabulary and help to strengthen my reading skills.

As my knowledge of the Quran grew, so did my vocabulary. I found myself being awakened to my surroundings more, affecting the way in which I viewed things.  It would eventually began to show in my lyrics and flow.   I went from rapping and talking about material things and money to the inequality in our justice system for minorities and life in the ghetto, the life I had witnessed through my own eyes and others.  Some may have considered it preaching, but 
I wanted to use my rap to teach.  I wanted to teach and share what I was learning to the world, but once again I still found myself struggling, struggling to write my own lyrics, and struggling to share my lyrics aloud.  It seemed like all the previous years of dodging English class or reading continued to haunt me.  I had trouble getting my message across through my words and lyrics.   
       Like Public Enemy screaming “Fight the Poweror Brand Nubians “Slow Down”,
their music had a clear message to their songs that I tried mimicking in mine.  It seemed like it would be so easy to emulate their writing style.  I just knew that the rap game would be my calling, but it wasnt.    The hardest thing about rapping for me was starting out the beginning of a sentence or even just a phrase. As much as I tried not to I always found myself using the word I, I this or I that.  I wasnt even doing it purposely, but forming sentences was just not my strong suit.  I found describing things in word and on paper to be very complex and complicated.  My verses had no creativity, no imagination.  I hated listening to my playbacks.  Because of my lack of reading skills and verbalization, I found my rap verses and stories being limited to what I could talk about.  I even hoped that my Spanish classes in high school would pay off and help inculcate this into my rap as well.  I found myself struggling there as well.  What was supposed to be my primary language now turned to my second language, which was somewhat disappointing to me, as I had trouble with Spanish literacy as well.  

It was after a few of  the most embarrassing moments that I knew I wasn't cut out to be a rapper, as being true to oneself as an artist is part of ones expression.  I didnt want to rap about someone elses story but I wanted to be able to tell mine. Never again will I underestimate a talent in spoken word or real poetry because a true MC will and can rhyme freestyle without a pen or a pad, or a rhyming dictionary, or a thesaurus, and that wasnt me.   

  Even though the rap path didnt work out for me, my passion and love for music continued to remain, and it would be channeled in different forms. I started to perfect my visualization skills developing  a love and passion for being behind the scenes, being the person that helped to complete the concept and for the last 20 years I have worked continuously and passionately within the worlds of  photography, videography, recording engineering, directing, and music and video editing.   Growing up my mom always told me, It doesnt matter what you do when you grow up, just do your best at it, and thats exactly what I am doing.  

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