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Rap as Poetry

Many people today will tell you that poetry is tedious and they don't understand it. Some will go so far as to say that poetry is D.E.A.D. Are they right?

Well, let's talk about it. What's the oldest poem you can think of? Is it the Epic poems written by Homer? The narrative poetry of Sappho? Li Bai's ancient Chinese works?

(Photo taken from LiveScience)

So far, the oldest known poem is the Epic of Gilgamesh (which we're still finding pieces of to this day!) Highly recommend checking out the Epic of Gilgamesh if you haven't before. It has quite a bit of symmetry with the modern day bible, and is a great text to study if you have time. But what does all of this have to do with modern day poetry, or like the title suggests, rap? Poetry is ever evolving. We see this in how we moved from epics, to first person narrative poetry, to lyrical works, and so on until we've reached free form and prose style poetry.

Stories originally were meant to be passed on orally, and the same is true for poetry. This means that poetry was originally meant to be recited or sung! It makes sense when you think about it, considering how meter is so important to music.

Did poetry, in all of its musical brilliance, really just slowly fade away? Or is it still hiding among us?

So often rap music is pushed aside as being something that promotes violence, misogyny, sex, etc.. But that's not always true. There has even been critical writings done on Cardi B's "WAP." Just look at the University of Edinburgh's "Cardi B’s WAP through a gender lens," this master's thesis by Nicola Garoutte titled "An Intersectional Feminist WAP," and this Study Breaks article suggests WAP is a feminist anthem. Not that I'm here to convince you that "WAP" is poetry. No, my goal with "WAP" is to show that rap can house scholarly merits and can be surprisingly more in-depth than people tend to give it credit for. The real bit of rap poetry I want us to reflect on is Blackalicious's "Alphabet Aerobics." This is 100% an abecedarian poem. Notice how every two lines switches up to alliterating another letter of the alphabet?

Here's a fun video of D.Cliffe giving it a go:

Is this where poetry has been hiding? Well, truth be told, it's one of many places. Poetry can be found in music, not just rap, but also it has evolved into something that can, at times, blend into prose. Poetry isn't dead. It's just rebranding. Happy reading, Mea Andrews P.S. Sorry for the lack of updates this past May. I got COVID round 2 and was a bit miserable. Not to mention that I was popping out those kids learners and preparing for a big vacation + move. Hope ya'll stay healthy and productive!

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