If music be the food of love, play on. There's only a few reasons that justify one's recollection of a line from a Shakespearean play.  Mine comes from the deep rooted connection portrayed between love and music in that statement. For me, love is music. A large portion of my adolescent life was spent listening to and performing music, which is why I connect to it so well. Although I appreciate all forms of music, my favourite genres are Rap/Hip-hop, R&B, and Jazz. 

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

of love..

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

3/25/2013 17:02:17

Great post! We're actually talking about the idea of music (African Reggae specifically) bringing peace in one of my other classes right now. One of the struggles we've been having is about whether the inspirational hip-hop and rap music you talk about with such fondness is the norm, or if it's the exception. I know these music genres came from a noble place and can often do tremendous amounts of good for entire oppressed populations, but we are debating if that's still what it is primarily for. The central idea we came up with in this class was what North American hip-hop and rap artists are doing to the genre. Drake and people like him have dipped into this kind of music and made it mainstream, but their version doesn't stand for liberation or equality or justice anymore. You talk about the way older generations see these musical genres, but if you weren't educated on where the music came from, and Drake or Kanye West or Nicki Minaj is all you had to go on, it might not be so inspiring. I know you're not in that class, but what do you think? Has the genre and the message been ruined by North American pop culture?

4/4/2013 12:05:18

There's definitely no doubt that the content of the music has severely suffered over the recent years. Take the recent Rick Ross scandal for example (http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/legal-and-management/1554931/rick-ross-under-fire-for-lyrics-that-critics-say), his lyrics are not only indecent, they're unnecessary. I think rap still has a lot to offer in terms of positivity. No fan of rap will want to buy lyrics that aren't provocative or moving because its this energy that we feed off of and connect to when we need to pick ourselves up and get going. The problem isn't the music, its the attitudes of the rappers and the lack of responsibility shown in their lyrics. Because of the ease making money through provocative music, rappers have adopted attitudes of arrogance and immolation. If they became more responsible about the music, the lyrics would see a definite shift in attitude.

3/25/2013 20:53:46

That is a truly amazing piece of art Zain! I think that rap has a bad reputation because there's lots of artists who use it to spread messages of violence (e.g. Sumbal's blog post- http://sumbalwrites.blogspot.ca/2013/03/one-woman-vs-multimillion-dollar.html)

But, I also think there's a lot of people currently trying to change rap. You, for one. But also well known rappers like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, whose songs are about marriage equality, struggling to fight drug addictions, capitalism, and more. I think it's great that rap is being used for these because rap is something that many more people will listen to and be inspired by. We need to continue to change some of the violent raps to more meaningful ones.

4/4/2013 13:12:43

Agreed Darrelle. There are the likes of Lupe Fiasco, Yasiin Bey (formerly knowns as Mos Def) and Talib Kweli who make conscious rap music, but their sales take a huge hit due to their content. So for the music to change entirely, our preferences will have to change as well.

3/25/2013 21:42:51

Powerful spoken word piece Zain. Amazing.

4/4/2013 13:13:02

Thanks AJ! :)

Rasha Abu-Meizer
3/25/2013 23:13:29

You are very talented Zain, that was a great piece!!
Sadly, this form of art is ignored and undervalued in society. However, I find it to be very insightful, personal, and is a great way to deliver a point.
This form of art should be promoted to youth as a form of expression, both in developing and developed countries. It can provide an outlet to frustrations and problems experienced as well as a way to be heard. It allows youth to voice their opinions in a peaceful and creative manner.

3/27/2013 14:53:29

Truly inspirational. You have me speechless [wordless].

7/14/2013 15:17:26

I'll tell you what, this right here is premium quality bloggership. Part of what the traditional blogs nowadays are missing is the simply natural display of emotion. You don't know if some of these bloggers are blogging or bogusing. Some of these chaps come around and write about things just to get attention, and there's no soul to it. Bloggership is an art, it truly is. I mean the last time I ever read something peacefully without random urges of screaming "what in the world is the use of any of this and what does it mean", was the Harry Potter series. Damn good series that one! Since that series I ain't been able to read nothing peacefully. So what makes these third class bloggers think that I'm gonna read their attention seeking words. I mean come on! There needs to be soul, heart, and emotion in blogs, the combination of the three puts together a piece of art that a reader will read with interest and without picking his or her nose half a minute through. This right here is natural talent of bloggership. The shark totem is full of potential, its words are as vicious as a sharks bite, and its purity is beyond sincere. Mr. Amir, the sky is the limit for your blogging ability. Keep blogging strong, and keep baffling all of those bogussing bloggers who simply do it without realising that they're causing a headache!


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    As an avid listener of instincts and humanity, I strive to do things that put me out of my comfort zone. Cherishing the growth that comes along with this habit and all the beauty that life has to offer, I'd like to share my experiences with you. 

    All posts and opinions expressed are mine and completely independent of the University of Waterloo and the International Development program.


    July 2013
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