January 22, 2009

"Let's listen to Crack Emcee's playlist and then come back and discuss."

Amba lays down the challenge — to Crack Emcee. The question is which rapper could have filled the poetry slot at the inauguration.
Presumably if they had chosen a rapper, he'd have written something suitable for the occasion. The best of them are poets.
Anyone can respond. Please, don't bother to say it's just a terrible idea and no rapper could have done it properly. If that's your objection, it's noted in advance. This is a serious question addressed to readers who think there is someone who could have done it brilliantly. Don't just give names. Provide links and make arguments. Project what sort of lyrics would have been written for the occasion.


Ann Althouse said...

There's a special rule for posting on this thread: "Please, don't bother to say it's just a terrible idea and no rapper could have done it properly."

I'm going to delete violations of the rule.

the Rising Jurist said...

My vote, for pure theatrical value, is Adam Drucker, aka Doseone. Witness this riffing on stage, as part of his group Subtle.

That, of course, is a little weird for the inauguration, but fairly representative of the poetry he's capable of.

As for potential lyrics, he could expand on his theme from the 2008 Subtle track "Day Dangerous," which reads, in part:

When one releases themselves to defending their portion of spotlight, how will he know what must be planned around, and what must be slaughtered outright?

Stripped cured and worn in order to protect you, from its likeness or opposite fate.

Have you ever felt led into the black? Have you ever fed entire men to a path?

Obsession and fetish are an ending man's king, and then again mark the difference in you living out a self, and a self being lived in.

EDH said...

The original?

Kovacs said...

Gift of Gab from Blackalicious?

He's got great flow, and a song that samples "Hail to the Chief" ("Paragraph President"):

"As a politician he considers himself a national harmonizer"


From "Making Progress," some of the same sentiments BHO expressed in his inaugural address:

Everybody gotta struggle, that's the way of the world

Can't develop biceps if you don't do curls

Can't achieve a garden if you never water your crops

If you never pay your dues then you don't get props

Can't eat a proper meal without cooking it first

Can't receive a paycheck if you don't do work

If it wasn't for the rain then the trees won't grow

When the spring came 'round what a sight to bestow

When you face adversities, dark cloud won't last

If you never study how do you expect to pass?

And as a bonus, "Alphabet Aerobics" is one of the most entertaining 2 minutes in all of rap:


I'm far too white to imagine what rhymes he could have come up with for the inauguration.

Michael H said...

Word Jazz is a precursor to Rap. The iconic figure in Word Jazz is Ken Nordine.

Nordine would have been spectacular as an inaugural poet.

"And all as automatic as the tilt and wobble of this old old earth we spend our short long lives on, spinning around the nuclear warmth of the stormy sun, that some say will burn out uncountable nows from now, now after now like clock work measuring all of the light and dark moments of "is"...and of "is" always becoming "was", that huge very real imaginary past everywhere in back of us always fading off into forgettable eons of yesterdays. Maybe now is perpendicular to eternity."

The Crack Emcee said...

Damn it, Ann, I'm still moving - but I'll finish it as soon as I can.


Meade said...

They should have hired me, Insta J Meade L Cool, for the poetry slot:

Yo! With soulful solemnity, I do swear
right about now and right about here
To do this gig,
to drive this rig
'cause it ain't no poke
and I ain't no pig.
The Constitution will be
defended by me
and never be neglected.
So this is my oath
east, west, south, and no'th
You can hand me now the key
'cause I mean it, faithful-ly

Uncle Jimbo said...

Let's keep this Constitutional and have Above the Law do their piece Freedom of Speech.

"Now what's really known as a radio cut?

When you can's say (shit) and you can't say (fuck)

I really think you wanna hear it

But the radio stations, you see, they still gonna fear it

Yo, I thought this country was based upon freedom of speech

Freedom of press, freedom of your own religion

To make your own decision, now that's baloney

Cause if I gotta play by your rules, I'm bein phoney

Yo, I got to cater to this person or that person

I got to rhyme for the white or the black person?

Why can't it all be equal?

Music is a universal language for all people"


Uncle J

MayBee said...

You better lose yourself in the music
The moment you own it you better never let it go, oh
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
Cuz opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo
You better lose yourself in the music
The moment you own it you better never let it go, oh
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
Cuz opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo
You better

Verse 2

Soul's escapin' through this hole's that is gaping
This world is mines for the taking
Make me king as we move toward a new world order
A normal life is boring
But superstardom's close to post mortem
It only grows harder, homie grows hotter
He blows us all over, these hoes is all on him
Coast to coast shows, he's known as the Globetrotter
Lonely roads got him
He knows he's grown farther from home, he's no father
He goes home and barely knows his own daughter
But hold ya nose cuz here goes the cold water
These hoes don't want him no mo', he's cold prada
They moved on to the next shmo who flows
Who nose dove and sold nada
And so the so proper
His toll, it unfolds and I suppose it's old, partner
But the beat goes on
Duh duh doe, duh doe, dah dah dah dah
Eminem, Lose Yourself

UWS guy said...

Ann, Taylor Mali is the greatest "slam poet" I've ever heard. Featured many times on BETs Deaf poetry jam (deaf meaning "awesome" for those of you who don't speak jive.)

I also take issue with saying a "rapper" should perform. Again, the proper artist is a slam poet of whom there is non greater than Taylor Mali.

UWS guy said...

Also, if thought about, it is offensive and ignorant to ask which rap musician should speak his work in place of a poet.

It's rap music! No one would dare ask Bob Dylan to fill that spot at the inauguration but say, "hey bob...could you not use your guitar and harmonica? thanks..."

No one would ask Aretha Franklin to "speak" her song.

No one would ask John Williams to axe the clarinet from the group (sorry johnny it's an undignified instrument...)

A chamber group of rap musicians are either respected in their art form or not. You don't get to ask them to modify the composed work because you think the lyrics would be better without the beat.

Besides...there are already slam poets who fill that role.


above is a link to the man I've mentioned to many times already and ya'll should be off youtubing him yourself. Taylor Mali performing, "What teachers make."

Desiree said...

@UWS guy it's BET's Def Poetry. "Def" as in cool. But I do agree. Def or slam poets are not rappers.

Some examples:

A manifesto on American art from the Asian perspective:

And an excellent example of American cultural rage:

One more: "What teachers make"

matthew said...

I'd say that Common would be a good choice. The Onion once called him the rapper your "most likely to take home to mom" and noted that he's so clean that "sometimes when he talks about bitches, he's referring to actual dogs."

But he's also quite good. And he already is a fan of Obama.

Shanna said...

I agree with Common. He would have been an interesting choice.

Jacob said...


Are you following the presidential race?
Not at all.

You’re not? You know there’s a Black guy running, Barack Obama and then there’s Hillary Clinton.
His name is Barack?!

Barack Obama, yeah.

What the fuck is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?

Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
Barack Obama?

What the fuck?! That ain’t no fuckin’ name, yo. That ain’t that n***a’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the fuck outta here.

Sigivald said...

Rob Sonic?

The Crack Emcee said...

First off, yesterday was the late Jam Master Jay's birthday - a sad anniversary if there ever was one. The fact that no one, still, has been arrested for the murder of Run-DMC's DJ is another kind of crime all by itself. Watch the video.

O.K., this was tougher than I thought - not because I can't find appropriate artists (there's too many to count) - but because what an artist does for money can be so much different than what (I've seen) they're capable of. I'm sure that those who have already made suggestions understand what I'm getting at. Take these examples that way as well: these videos are just to show who they are, and shouldn't be thought of as representative of all their work, or an example of what they might have done on Inauguration Day. Some (Slick Rick, Cee-Lo) ) speak to Obama's age, others (Talib Kweli, Mos Def) for their way with words, etc. (All of them, surely, would've been subject to pre-approval.)

Anyway, here's a few who I think, for those various reasons, would have been fine as part of the Inauguration Day festivities:

Talib Kweli

Cee-Lo Green

Slick Rick


Pigeon John

De La Soul

Jurassic 5

Mos Def

P.M. Dawn

US 3

Fat Lip

The Roots

What do you think?

Ophir said...

The kids from the Ron Clark Academy.

Seriously. That would've been really cool.

Video's below the article.

Outis said...

The Geto Boys should have performed "Damn it feels good to be a gangsta" at the inaugural concert. Truth in advertising (originally about GHW Bush, although it seems to apply across the board):

And now, a word from the president!
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
Gettin voted into the white house
Everything lookin good to the people of the world
But the mafia family is my boss
So every now and then I owe a favor gettin down
Like lettin a big drug shipment through
And send em to the poor community
So we can bust you know who
So voters of the world keep supportin me
And I promise to take you very far
Other leaders better not upset me
Or Ill send a million troops to die at war
To all you republicans, that helped me win
I sincerely like to thank you
Cuz now I got the world swingin from my nuts
And damn it feels good to be a gangsta

As for the poetry slot at the Inauguration ceremony, there's only one choice: Ice T. He's just smarter than the rest. Of course, his heavy metal career means that could never happen.

The Crack Emcee said...

Yea, there's that - plus he was a pimp.

Smilin' Jack said...

Few know that famed physicist Stephen Hawking has a second career as a rapper, under the name MC Hawking.

Appropriate for this inauguration would be Entropy:
"...that's the Second Law:
You can't win, you can't break even, you can't leave the game
'cause entropy will take it all, though it seems a shame."

Or for something more upbeat, how about Fuck the Creationists:

"Fuck the damn Creationists, those bunch of dumbass bitches
Every time I think of them my trigger finger itches"

bearbee said...

Elbirret aedi dna on reppar dluoc evah enod ti ylreporp, but I gotta go with Insta J Meade L Cool.

Outis said...

Yea, there's that - plus he was a pimp.

I'd re-title "pimp" as "marketing consultant".

blake said...

While I am not a regular viewer of the Def Poetry Jam--I find it not something I can relate to, generally--I did tune in one night at the end while a handsome older gentleman was rapping out his poetry.

It was moving, exciting to listen to, just marvelous.

Turned out it was Smokey Robinson.

Darcy said...

Ohhhh...Smokey. I'd have loved to have seen that, blake.

I got to see Smokey up close when he was probably in his 40's. What a gorgeous man. Wonderful songwriter and such a sweet voice.

blake said...

Smokey was on "Def Poetry Jam" twice; I'd be surprised if it weren't available somewhere.

He didn't sing; he didn't need to.

The Crack Emcee said...


I caught that shit - it's like the one time DMX wasn't completely being a nut. Did you hear he once caused a three car accident and one of the cars was owned by the police? Crazy.

So what'd you guys think of the list? Too soft? Ain't nobody said shit.

Also, I did a couple of Althouse-inspired posts, here and here.

Dylan said...

I know just enough about rap/hip hop to get me in trouble but not enough to speak with any sort of authority on the "skillz" of one artist vs. another in regard to this particular request.

However, my first thought was that of all the respected lyricist rappers, Mos Def has probably done the most "mainstream" work to come across as non-threatening to white America.

The Crack Emcee said...


I had a hard time putting Mos Def on my list, because he's said such stupid shit offstage, but the guy's a really talented rapper, no doubt. I asked several of my friends this question today and everyone's list had him, Talib Kweli, and The Roots on it.

I think, in my own informal poll, The Roots is the group most wished had been part of inaugural.

Meade said...

Thanks, bearbee