“I opened up Shakespeare’s tomb and stole his remains, grinded the bones, smoked it, then got in the game.”
There’s something dauntingly alluring about Nas’ words here. His ability to actualize a full narrative in one sentence seems unparalleled, in many ways it proves his personal juxtaposition to the great literary as truth. I don’t think Nas is the Shakespeare of our times, but I won’t deny that there’s every chance such a comparison can’t or won’t be found in hip hop.
Within the past two to three weeks, people have been talking to me about my growing adoration for hip hop, and in many ways my burgeoning need for it. I’ve had such trouble trying to articulate this desire, to truly convey this exigency. I attempt here, to try and find some lucidity, if not for those who asked, but for myself.
“Some nigga named Dex was in the projects, layin’ threats,
I jumped out the Lincoln, left him stinkin’
Put his brains in the street,
Now you can see what he was just thinking’.”
It’s fairly obvious to those that do know me, that I’m not from the ‘Dangerzone’ Big L is talking about here, my street life doesn’t compare to this in any way and to force some clarity, I can’t directly relate to this in any form. For me, I think that’s where I find the beauty. Being so totally separated from a form of music, so unable to relate to it, can for once become a sublime concept. I’m not disclosing anything new here, that isn’t the point, I am highlighting my own possible attraction to this art, an attraction that I’m positive is in line with so many millions of others. Total escapism.
Lately I have been haunted by the tormenting lull of a trinity of songs, I’ll Take You Everywhere by Penfold, Flirted With You All My Life by Vic Chesnutt and most recently Someone Great by LCD Soundsystem, following a brief conversation with my uncle about its apt content.
These songs, though so cathartic in nature can only allow so much purging before resigning to a harrowing feeling, so bittersweet. It is here where hip hop really steps in for me, where Big L, Freddie Gibbs and J.Cole can simply change everything at the drop of a beat… Too cringey? I think so.
Again it is evident that I won’t be able to connect with what’s being expressed the same way others may. But who am I to complain? If for 48 minutes I can escape reality as I listen to Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, it leaves me with no grounds for reproach.
When I read, I read to escape, not to relate. But for years, I listened to music with the antithesis of that.
I only found such earnest depth in music I could directly correlate with, oh how things have changed.
To recapitulate here as I’m getting tired, the true artistry and inducement I have been finding in hip hop is its ability to so often take me away from reality, to allow me to live in a whole new world if only for a time, and honestly, is there anything else I could want more? Escapism is a fantastical feeling, and since I don’t smoke weed, I think hip hop will have to do.
Ostentatious spiel over. Listen to Big L, Freddie Gibbs, Vado, Jay Electronica, J.Cole and Mac Miller now. G’man yourself.