For a lot of people (mainly the baby boomers and generation X) Rap/Hip-hop is both revolting and offensive. The content, nor the message is appealing to this group and this subjects the genre to stigmas revolving around violence, drugs and prostitution. I understand the concerns of these people and understand how their thought process developed, but to generalize about all of rap that way is not only unfair, but also extremely arrogant. Rap/Hip-Hop came from the slums of Bronx, and grew to become a force to be reckoned with internationally. Its intricate word play over a beat pattern has revolutionized the music industry and continues to affect music genres today. The hostility and the anger that resonates in Rap/Hip-Hop music simply projects the hardships and the struggles faced by its originators. Music is a reflection of life and your surroundings, and for African-Americans to have lived in a land filled with hostility, overcoming challenges of racism and prejudice and still affect the world on a global scale with their art and music is a testament of how powerful and deeply connected the message of Rap/Hip-Hop is with people all around the world.
But all of this isn't what makes Rap/Hip-Hop special to me. The link between me and the music, comes from the passion of poetry. In the words of the legendary Big Daddy Kane "If you can rhyme hat with cat, you can be considered a rapper" and thats exactly what I felt like when I first heard rap and connected my poems with the art itself.
I never knew I could perform poetry in such a way until I heard Eminem's soundtrack from his movie "8 Mile." "Lose Yourself" became an anthem for me throughout my childhood and gave me inspiration to not only continue to write poetry, but also learn how to use syllables to my advantage to produce bars (lyrics) in a melodious way. I used these lessons and was able to write for spoken word events and even make myself a couple of songs (yeah, I try).
This brings me to the main part of the post, which is one of my most memorable spoken word performances. In my second year of university I was invited to perform at the WaTSA (Waterloo Tamil Students Association) "Maveerar Naal." "Maveerar Naal" is the Tamil tradition of Remembrance Day. The event is to mourn the lost soldiers of Tamil Eelam, a "rebel group" fighting for the freedoms of Sri Lankan Tamils from a perceived unfair Singhalese society. Not knowing the group, nor the events at hand, it was imperative for me to connect with the audience to some degree. Partnering up with one of my closest friends Sendu Bhakthakumaran (who is a part of the Tamil community), we joined poetic forces to write a spoken word relaying our thoughts on atrocities and display of inhumanity around the world. In the end, I ended up performing a piece that was titled "B.A.M.N." [By Any Means Necessary].
Here it is for your reading pleasure, please comment and subscribe!
B.A.M.N , B.A.M.N
By any means necessary
B.A.M.N , B.A.M.N
By any means necessary
Malcolm X’s thoughts became hereditary
To survive you needed it, it was necessary
They made revolutions out there in February
Cold storms, wind blowing, it got very scary
Dusting the ground with bombs; our beliefs are contrary
Stemming from the need of the word clarity
Importance of courage is not to just stand alone
But to work your voice to promote some clones
Of a fight for freedom that softens its own definition
Soothes the fricative sense to erase aggression
Seek attention? No no, we seek repentance
Crimes against lives of those who leave mid sentence
Thoughts cut off, their dreams snatched away
Refugee camps and they ain’t even packed for days
The fight that we plight to, is it all for gains?
Mediocre lives, changing mediocre lanes
Rich get richer but the poor stay the same
Killing over our differences, is it my blood that’s to be blamed?
If I bleed and you bleed and we bleed a river
Will you see and differentiate whose blood is thicker?
Whose blood is richer? Whose blood is more worthy?
Your aims flying high, but your platform ain’t sturdy
In a court room being judged by sinners
Nobody’s perfect so nobody’s a winner
But inhumanity, is insanity
Agree with that argument and you support vanity
Because nobody recognizes the truth anymore
You aren’t respected if you aren’t in a suit anymore
Kids with potential, but can they be what they plan to be?
War torn, broken hearted, some of them have no feet
Mines put in the earth that we are free to walk in
Holding on to hope as if it were tied to lockets
Holding on to throats, these vultures dying for profits
Holding on to babies, mothers crying for doctors
Holding on to something, or else God will mock us
Turn the other cheek, that what Ghandi taught us
But oppression is blind, carried out by the will of monsters
Take examples by the death in Gaza
Almost a million people displaced with no food or water
Take examples by the deaths in Mullivaikal
40,000 deaths and they got nothing to account for
Lets bring change to rearrange the tides of the future
Where kids don’t have to tread the same side walks as shooters
Where mothers don’t have to put a fight up against looters
Where mother earth herself doesn’t have to bear the burdens of rulers
The older I get... my footprints, larger they seem
Let me die knowing that I have stitched the seams
So it does not meet greed and that my children will grow
In a society where seeds meet no inferno
Well nurtured given nothing but unconditional,
We'll turn dreams to reality, we determine fictional
Because Hope and dreams have strayed the collective,
Self-inspired gain was brought a new elective