Ted Talk: Is Rap the New Poetry?

My paradigm shift, as clarified in the previous post is analyzing the how Americans have shifted their taste in music from Rock to Hip-Hop. On a similar track, I would like to give my TED talk based on an idea that I like to play with, the fact that rap lyrics are similar to poetry. I think that this talk will be interesting as it will allow the viewers to be able to think about not only rap music, but all song lyrics as poetry, a fact that we commonly disregard. Additionally, it will help show that many of these artists have a greater social awareness and artistic vision than what they commonly get credit for, as they are seen as gang members who are just trying to make fun music and make some money. Below is the outline I will use:

Introduction:

  • Poetry as we know it has died, and has given way to a similar but unconventional medium for wordsmiths alike. Rap music is the new poetry. Poetry for the everyman but most importantly, for the minorities.
    • Use of a quote to spark their attention.

Body:

Why can Hip-Hop be considered poetry?

  1. Use of literary devices such as metaphor, simile and phonetic devices, rhyme, repetition, play on words. Basically, these writers are wordsmiths.
  2. They address themes relevant to the world’s current situation, they have a unique vision and idea of what they want to say and why they are saying it. It is not only about sounding good anymore.
  3. They are well educated in terms of musical competence, literature and pop culture, which makes their music more appealing, and relatable.

 

Paradigm shift: Goodbye rock… Hello Hip-Hop

Hip-Hop has just unthroned Rock as the most consumed genre in the United States, accounting for 25.1% of the total music consumption, against 23% for Rock. We can point to music streaming, sociological factors or even the fact that there has not been a break through world know rock band like the ones in the 60s and 70s to justify this; but undoubtably, this change not only represents a change in the taste of music; but also a change in the music industry, the composition of music and the way we appreciate music. Yes, as much as it pains me to say, Rock has not had any important or noteworthy bands that can stand up to the giants that came before them. However, Hip-Hop has been able to improve, evolve and pivot into more popular, more conceptual, and to a more socially significant position.

Different approaches can be taken in this discussion; but due to a restriction in the amount of content I will limit myself to discuss the following.

  • Changes in Hip-Hop; specifically rap: We can see that big strides have been made in changing from the ‘thugs and gang members’ of early rap to the artists and visionaries we see today.
  • Changes in the music industry: from vinyl to streaming the way we listen to music and even the accessibility of it has changed incredibly in the past 30-40 years.
  • Changes in the way music is made: The growth and increase in popularity of sampling, overlaying autotune and other which have favored Hip-Hop over Rock.
  • Hip-Hop as a voice for minorities, and for social change, much like Rock was in its origin, Hip-Hop has turned into a genre known for controversial themes and for strong stances the give a voice to the voiceless.

In the end I wish to prove that this shift is layered and includes many important elements, but mainly that it is relevant to the society that we live in and the way we appreciate music in this day and age.

Pictures really are worth a thousand words.

For a writer like Addario pictures help enrich her text considerably, as she writes about experiences and places that most of us have never experienced. She writes about what is foreign to most, and therefore adding pictures is an essential supplement to her writing. I had previously written that Addario’s description usually allows the reader to imagine the scenes she describes effectively, however, adding images gives it an important dimension; reality. The pictures give the reader something to attach to when they read making the book more memorable and effective due to the way it appeals to emotion.

My one of my favorite images appear in part IV of the book. the first is on page 211, and is a picture of the British Consulate minutes after being attacked by a bomb. Two things catch my eye in this image. The first is the sense of chaos it transmits, and the atmosphere is hazy and ominous due to the shrapnel and dust the pollute the scene.  The effectiveness of this image is based on the fact that it so clearly captures the sentiment and the anxiety that most were probably feeling at that time. A struggle to remain composed while simultaneously attempting to escape from the rubble and destruction of the bomb. .Once again I point out that as in general it is safe to assume that the audience has not experienced such an event, that images are even more impactful as they highlight the emotions of a circumstance that they have not lived through.

The other image I am writing about appears in on page 147 of the book. It depicts what seems to be the silhouette of a woman in what appears to be a chador walking amongst the baron landscape with the aftermath of war to her left. What astonishes me about this image is the fact that it was so powerful in demonstrating the devastation war can bring to a community. It really speaks to man’s capability for destruction.

For my blog writing I think I can learn many thing from Addario. The first is that images and media can aid in creating a more effective post as images can appeal directly to the audiences emotions and in some cases logic to help more effectively transmit the intended message. In addition I think it helps add a dimension of familiarity and knowledge that the reader cannot usually obtain on their own. In my blog, I can use media to help inform the reader more effectively and hopefully create a clearer image of the emotions I am trying to communicate.

The comfort zone.

A common theme in this book is Addario’s conflict between pursuing photography against a simple more traditional lifestyle. She struggles through out the book and grapples with what will really make her happy. In chapters 1-3 it is clear that her choice is to pursue photography and to chase her passion; but this also brings with it some conflict. Whether it be having to beg so called aid-workers to help out a woman suffering from AIDS, or banging her head against a corporate wall that limits her art Addario faced conflicts in many different ways and to pick only one is tremendously difficult.

As I progress through the book I keep finding conflicts and ideas and situations that I would like to define as the biggest conflict, however I do not feel adequate saying so. The reason this happens is because Addario is constantly putting herself outside of her comfort zone. As she aspires to move onto greater things and new adventures she encounters problems that may seem outstanding and overwhelming to the reader, but she finds a way to make it relatable. For instance, her struggle to find balance between having a family and a ‘normal life’ seem like something that is foreign at a first glance. However, I can relate to this as she discusses it further. Like her I am passionate about my plans to establish a career (only through my studies so far), and for that I have made the sacrifice of leaving behind my family, my friends and my country. And while I find great pleasure in being away and studying here at the university it is inevitable to wonder what it would have been like if I had stayed closer to home.

But what me and Addario have most in common is a need to put ourselves outside of the comfort zone. To not settle for what is easy, and simple and good. Like her, I wish to push myself to see how far I can go. While you, the reader, may feel like this is a bit of a stretch I have written before that Addario is effective in appealing to the reader’s emotions; and recently I feel that I can relate to her.

On a completely different and more trivial note I would also like to say that conflict does not have to be so polarizing to be significant. I think that conflict can also be something as trivial as not knowing how to save your fantasy football team (which sadly I do not). But I also invite you to find a place that may have gotten monotonous for you; and to be like Addario, and just flip things upside down. Do things not because they are easy; but because they seem interesting and challenging.

Essay Outline.

Its almost been a year since Donald Trump’s campaign came to an end; but for many Mexicans and Latinos like me there is still something that resonates and makes us uneasy. Yes, I am talking about his threat to build the wall. What upsets me is not so much the political stance against immigration; but the fact that his arguments for it during the speech spoke so poorly of a country that already suffers from a copious amount of stereotypes. I am biased as I am a Mexican; but I think we can all agree that there are some points made by Mr. Trump that would have gone down better had they not been so prejudice. I aim to discuss the message Mr. Trump gave to his public and the way these create stereotypes about Mexicans, in addition the latino community as a whole.

The first point I would like to make is to discuss the way Trump talks about all Mexicans by referring to them as ‘rapists and criminals.’ This generalization is not only an unfair way to characterize the population; but it also propagates a negative image for Mexico and its people. I have personally experienced this first hand, as not once in my life have I met an American that didn’t ask me if Mexico City was safe. Okay this is a hyperbole. But what is definitely true is the fact that many Americans already consider Mexico to be a dangerous place to live, and talking about it’s citizens in such a negative way promotes this.

I would also like to discuss the fact that closing borders is in fact against many American ideals, including the most cliché one; The American Dream. Mexicans look up to the economic development of the USA and the opportunities that they have while here. Many latin countries either look up to the US or despise it based only on the industrial power that it is. Closing off your borders to these countries would not only damage social dynamics and the economy; but it can also be compared to lashing out at your younger brother or sister. While they can be annoying and disruptive, they are only trying to be like you.

To conclude, while the speech covers many interesting and controversial topics and sociological, economic and political stances, I will focus on the portrayal of Latinos and specifically Mexicans in this essay with the hope of proving that much of the language used was unnecessarily harsh and damaging to the Mexican community.