Discovering the Relevance of Words
*** This article will definitely contain some blue language***
“And after all my logic and my theories, I add a ‘muthafucka’ so you ig’nant niggas hear me …”
– Ms. Lauryn Hill
This is that ignorant shit you like
Nigga, fuck, shit, ass, bitch, trick, plus ice
C’mon, I got that ignorant shit you love
Nigga, fuck, shit, maricon, puta, and drugs
C’mon, I got that ignorant shit you need
Nigga, fuck, shit, ass, bitch, trick plus weed
I’m only trying to give you what you want
Nigga, fuck, shit, ass, bitch, you like it don’t front
Admit it, you really didn’t read the quotes above this first sentence; your eyes met the curse words, but you didn’t actually read what the quotes said. I mean, why would you? You’re not really looking for content, right? I mean, you smiled when you saw certain words, or sat with your mouth agape if you were offended. We are selective readers. We’ve always been selective readers, and our eyes will always move to the words that give us the quickest response. The same can be said for your ears.
Do we block out the “logic and theory” in that which we listen to or read? Is coarse language necessary in order to keep the readers invested in the plot line? It sure sells more, and reaches a younger, and maybe less interested audience – I don’t want to say less educated, or ignorant quite yet; I’m not willing to go that far with it. I enjoy a good swear word, but I also read for, or listen to music for, the actual content. I enjoy plot lines and context clues. I’m in the minority.
When I think back on the tapes that I wore out as a little kid, when I wasn’t very educated, and was definitely much more ignorant, it wasn’t always because the songs were good, it was because the artists were swearing. It was fun to memorize those lines, and recite them for my friends. I thought I was cool because I could swear. The problem was that I wasn’t listening to the message around those few words. I was too young at that time to really understand the words that were being rapped, or sung, or spoken, but I knew they carried a lot of weight with them, and since my parents had told me never to say them, I figured they must be important and dangerous.
In Jay-Z’s “Ignorant Shit,” he raps:
They’re all actors
Looking at themselves in the mirror backwards
Can’t even face themselves, don’t fear no rappers
They’re all weirdos, DeNiro’s in Practice
So don’t believe everything your earlobe captures
Its mostly backwards
There’s a point to the song that he wants you to grasp, but he knows that the majority of his listeners are going to miss that, so he tosses in the expletive-filled chorus (given at the top of the article) so listeners have something to cling to, and remember, and he’ll have something to sell. Because, after all, who wants to listen to meaning and message.
Hip-Hop is different. As we listen, we typically have to pick up on things very quickly. It’s much easier with a rock song, where there’s a distinct chorus, and vocal line to follow. With hip-hop you have to really try to catch what they are saying, or find the lyrics in the liner notes – or online – and rap them off from there. What we come to find out is that the majority of the songs we listen to actually have somewhat of a story-line. Even if it’s nothing amazing, the writer is trying to tell you something. Unfortunately, their point is typically missed, and in order to at least keep you involved in the song, they’ll throw in a few swear words, because at least then you’ll ooh and awe about a couple of lines – even if you’ve completely missed the point of the song.
My assumption is that if you’re reading the articles on this site, you’re probably not ignorant – then again, you know what people say about assumptions. I hope you pick up on the logic and theories that The Poetry Question is throwing your direction.
Enjoy your literature, and music, but just remember there is more to it than a few curse words.