Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rapper-Poets versus Poet-Rappers


Nas- The effort Nas puts into editing his work and perfecting it to a poetic sensibility is evident in the great deal of time that some time exists between his albums. Though turning out albums on a yearly basis helps one's bottom line, Nas is and was at his best when he takes time to develop his work. This is because to Nas every word, every syllable and every letter is crucial in fitting into his overall theme. His poetic sensibilities are best on display in tracks such as my all-time favorite song "One Mic," and "If I Ruled the World."

Tupac- Tupac's talent as an actor and dancer are more discussed than his great ability with poetry. Tupac's poetry was usually short, simple, sweet and to the point. This style is also evident in his movies and his rap albums. You can check out his poetic sensibilities in tracks such as "Brenda's Got a Baby" and "Thug Mansion," as well as the movies "Juice" and "Poetic Justice," (which he co-starred in with Janet Jackson, only to find out Jackson wanted NOTHING to do with him off-screen.)


Biggie- Biggie is probably the least poetic of the four, but Biggie was also able to mix in hypnotic hooks with stunning imagery. His greatest and most popular hit "Juicy" was also by far his most poetic work. "I made the change from a common thief, to up close and personal with Robin Leach. And I am far from cheap, smoke toke with my peeps all day, spread love it's the Brooklyn way," and "money green couch, leather sofas, got two rides, a limousine with a chauffer. Phone bill about 4 gs flat, no need to worry my accountant handles that. "

Jay Z- Sean Carter is able to go in the studio and spit out a song in one go. That he maintains a poetic narrative arc and imagery in such a pressured situation is impressive. In these times, Jay Z is able to take other people's work and efforts and expand upon them in a new creative direction. For anyone who thinks this a problem, consider such reputable artists such as Shakespeare took other people's work, such as Plutarch's which he used to help describe Cleopotra entrance in "Julius Ceaser." What a great tribute to these rappers from one of the best ever!

The Rapper-Poet Poet-Rapper

Eminem-Eminem is able to freestyle as a poet-rapper and perfect and edit his work as rapper-poet, the only rapper in history to fit both roles to the T, Eminem is only third behind Nas and Tupac in poetic sense, and only behind Tupac as the greatest rapper ever. His narrative arc was best displayed on the song "Stan," along with other hits and even non-hits such as "When Bad Meets Evil," "Brain Damage," (if you have not heard this one, go immediately and check it out) and "Love the Way You Lie."

Which of these rappers best exemplifies the diamond in the rough?