Why is Hiphop laying down, ready to die with No Pride? (The verses of a hiphop story; Fragments Of rap barse -2017-)

Image result for irish hip hop

I.

Why are the lyrics to hiphop sleeping?

Dreams turnt to nightmares.

Why is the mic hanging, weeping?

Is it, screaming, waking up to night terrs’?

II.

Damm! I rememba’ so simple then.

Like a sigh of an Emcee’s relief.

The beat to her heart was so Zen.

Now, its more like gutter street.

III.

Its like hiphop’s heart is trying to revive.

From funk, to trap, to confusing lyrics.

Its trying to borrow time, just to survive.

Went From pride to a broken spirit.

IV.

If it just tried to make a comeback

Remembering where it came from

When broken burroughs needed slack

From the oppression, that would hang em.

V.

They claimed it was the harder times.

That made them create a beat.

Theyd dance, sing, rap, and rhyme,

Pull out cardboards to the street.

VI

Its just like when Erin’s Harp lost its pride.

The Irish forced to abandon history.

But their true roots they could not hide.

Their inner harp played, through their misery.

VII.

Ya see, they found it, though twas buried.

Was meant to even die,

but resurrected, momentarily.

Just enough to add twinkle to their eyes.

VII.

So, you too emcee, need to remember.

Though tears fall from your speakers.

You said youd be back in November,

But its only looking bleeker.

VIII.

Stuck on a writers block?

Look for the inspiration.

You can hear it in the shot of a glock.

Or in the social class segregation.

IX.

Its in the eyes of a grieving mother’s woas.

Her two sons shot down.

Its in the broken impoverished homes.

That you see around town.

X.

Even if like Erin’s harp.

What only comes out is depression,

At least you release it from your heart.

Relieving pressure from the repression.

XI.

Even though, theyve taken over hip-hop

Those Record labels eradicating your intentions.

It’s time to revolt..fists up..put to a stop.

After all, you were the creator of this invention.

XII

The Irish “survived their Freedom’s vital blow”

Its just the same with you.

This defeat is something you cant let go.

You promised your hoods youd be true.

XIII.

Now, your story is even much more deep.

So much lyrics to express.

Overflowing, even beginning to seep.

Your delivery will be a success.

XIV.

Youll raise the chins of the depressed.

Brings smiles to kids with no hope.

Black, Chicano, Asian’ will be impressed.

Putting down the pipe and dope.

XV.

So, pick up the mic, that lay there hung.

Drop a sick-with-it beat.

“Erin Go brach, he boldly sung”

You, too, can bring life back to your streets.

Image result for hip hop culture and harpsImage result for erin go bragh graffiti

*I decided to create lyrical barse parodying that of “Why Sleeps the Harp of Erin’s Pride” by Sydney Owenson in order to create an understanding in regards to a culture that has gotten lost and appropriated by commercialization and artistic consumption.  Like the loss of the Harp, by the Irish, the true essence of hiphop amidst the general population has been in a comatose state too.  The origination of hiphop began in New York in the 1970’s and consisted of several elements: emceeing, DJing, breaking, and Graffiti.  Its purpose grew from the oppression that the most poor boroughs of New York were suffering through -mostly consisting of blacks and latinos.  They were starved of good education, access to healthy food, and a structured environment due to the zone’s severe neglect.  Then one day the neighborhood kids and folks made something out of nothing, and began putting together functions on the streets to speak on that repression and suffering, hence hip-hop.  But just like the Irish pride and culture, it has been forced to assimilate into a pop culture, being appropriated by major industries whom only want to profit off of the desperate artists whom are willing to sell their souls and mass produce music with zero intentions to raise awareness to social issues.  However, as mentioned in Owenson’s poem, “for still he sung the ills that flow,” meaning that despite the oppression, the Irish tried their best to keep their culture alive; similarly, there are those that still emcee with pride. They are known as underground artists.  They are continuing to spread the essence of hiphop, though theres been an attempt at it being buried, just like the Irish had to struggle through.

Image result for images saying free hiphop

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“Silence is not Golden”

The poem “The Harp That Once Through Tara’s Halls” written by Thomas Moore evokes emotional appeal as it personifies the harp -giving it human attributes- specifically that of Ireland’s.

Referring to the Ireland’s nationalism, Moore, on the third line of the first stanza, says:

“Now hangs as mute on Tara’s walls.”

The use of the word mute, technically meaning silent, is making reference to Ireland’s inability to express cultural pride any longer.  During a time when the Irish people were under oppression by British society, it makes sense that their culture evolution would be in a state of non-progression, “as if that soul were fled” (first stanza, line 4).

Moore, so far, in the poem, has extended the Irish history, setting the tone of grief and loss.

According to: “Harp Spectrum’s: Exploring the World -’Ireland’s Harp: A Story of Survival and the Shaping of Irish Identity,’” the history behind the harp is a “story of a fight to survive…”

That fight is in regards to the Irish crucially attempting to hold on to their identities as they were forced to assimilate into the British government.  

First stanza, lines 5 and 6, “So sleeps the pride of former days/so glory’s thrill is o’er” truly indicates the depression the Irish were feeling. While the poem is using sleep as a metaphor to indicate that there is no longer any pride, and “glory,” it could also be taken literally as sleep is a common reaction to feeling sad, or with lack of hope.  

Moore, moves through the poem, as if moving through the body of the Irish, mentioning the word “heart,” stating that there is “pulse no more”(first stanza, line 8) and “the only throb she gives/is when some heart indignant breaks/to show that she still lives”(second stanza, lines 6-8).  This heart that Moore speaks of is the Heart of the Irish, alluding to the notion that, despite their state of oppression, and that their pride may have been in a state of slumber, there is still hope that lies within the beat of their harp.

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

Merced 2017

Merced 2017

Having been born and raised in Merced, California, molded the artist, and coincidentally the poet, that I am today.

I was able to witness the town of Merced evolve from a aesthetically clean, working family/blue collar community, to an unemployed, drug and homeless riddled, littered town.

In hindsight, I realize that it was bound to happen.  

The rich, one percent, of this community are happily comfortable in their blissful ignorance turning the noses away from the rest, and, unfortunately the rest, are in a “mind forgd manacle state” too because they can’t see any other way to live.  Their standards, for the most part, are polluted, just like the streets of London.

Welfare is handed out as a means to disillusion minorities, keeping them comfortably caught in a cycle of generational poverty.

Its ironic really.  This vision Merced could potentially have on the map: The Gateway to Yosemite -known as one of the many “City of Trees of California” and also known as a sleepy town.  Whats more, now that we have had the UC Merced campus in our town, it has contributed to that ideal that we have potential to become something. Or that, everything is okay.

And dont forget:  never go on the other-side-of-the-tracks.  At least, that is what they say.

But the other side of the tracks is where I come from.  And while it consists of migrant families, farm labor workers, low income housing, as well as the working class, and is considered “hood,” i find it the most raw honest culturally rich community.  However, when you do drive through it, you will see more homelessness, broken roads, cracked and raised cement sidewalks, than you do on the “better side of town.”

Most importantly,  what you won’t explicitly see is the struggle, exploitation, and violent and impoverished cycle that keeps those tracks a strong divide between the good and bad side of town. This reminds me of Wiliam Blake’s “London.”  And so I choose to write about the griminess of our town because just like that London, there is an implicit and explicit divide between social class, and living cirumstance:

“Windows with bars,

No rooms, just tombs

Broken hearts in jars.

Encapsulated gloom.

 

Single moms

Section 8 rent,

Welfare, fraud.

Trynna-make-a-dollar-out-of-fifteen-cent.

 

Incarcerated fathers.

Summers are warm,

Police beats are hotter.

ICE and police sweeps swarm.

 

Gangs raising arms

Asking, ‘Where you from?’

Carrying arms.

Empty eyes, loaded gun.

 

Iiquor stores are coffee shops

Malt liquor

Quike-E-Stops.

blunt wraps, make them sicker.

 

Empty playgrounds

Tagged jungle gyms

Corner churches

Filled with hidden sins.

 

Polluted gutters,

crooked streets,

keeping the ‘others’

discretely unseen.”

 

 

 

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

Paraiso

The painting by Theodore Gericault, “Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct,” seems to be a near close depiction of William Wordsworth’s poem “Lines Written At a Small Distance From My House, and Sent by My Little Boy to the Person to Whom they are Addressed.”  It is as if Gericault’s paintbrush is taking direction from Wordsworth’s poetic expression.  

In the painting we see a vision of perfection through the depiction of a day filled with leisure and great weather.  There are several people swimming along the aqueduct, simply basking in what seems to be an air of peace.  Similarly, in the poem, Woodsworth’s first words are that it was a “mild day of March.”  The word “mild” meaning that the climate is neither too hot nor too cold, setting the tone for how one may feel tempered when reading the rest of the poem.  The same feeling is evoked fromt the painting, where the sun light’s casting against the landscape and buildings, indicates the hour of dusk, hence indicating that a mildness has taken over that part of the day.

There also seems to be a Utopian fantasy taking place in both the art piece and the poem, when Woodsworth says: “Love, now an Universal birth/from heart to heart is stealing/from earth to man/from man to earth/-it is the hour of feeling.”  Now, instead of looking at the art piece first, if the lines are read first, and the art piece is looked at thereafter, one will see that a perfect world has been projected.  The illusion that “love” has been born on a “universal” level, meaning that everyone and everything is exuding a perfect sense of happiness and love, is entirely the definition of a Paradise world.  In the picture we see men inside of the water, casually relaxing and enjoying the themselves. That part of the art piece could even literally have those words “From Earth to man, from man to Earth -It is the hour of feeling” placed in that specific spot on the painting.

The combination of the perfect weather and the gentlemen’s’ sense of peace in Gericault’s painting goes quite well with Wordsworth last line when he says, “for this one day we’ll give to idleness.”  In other words, instead of carrying on with work, which is the daily protocol for survival, both painter and poet are saying that, instead, not worrying is the perfect way to enjoy life, and in that sense, the survival of one’s inner spirit is most important.

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

 

Snap. Crackle. Rock

 

 

The Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is like Romantic Poetry as the voice’s inflection and delivery brings the lyrics to a whole new lights.  Similarly to what the turn of Romantic Poetry created, is a sense of modernity -detaching from a traditional form of poetic speech and bringing it to a modern one.

The line “And now the Storm-Blast came and he was tyrannous and strong: he struck with his oe’r taking wings, and chased us South along,” when heard through Iron Maiden’s version definitely creates an imagery that otherwise could not be felt from just reading. Its as though one is experiencing the chaos of the undertaking and a thrill comes over as the shouting of the vocalists voice, along with the thick, loud and massive sound of the instruments used in the song.

In terms of the lyrics, the words “and now the Storm-Blast” is in syncopation with the blasting of the bass and electric guitars, as well as the drums, invoking even more the feeling of being in conjunction with the raging ocean’s waves and tide.  This is the same, incidentally, with what the purpose of poetry was supposed to cause, during the “turn.”

Just like this choice in music, that was looked down upon, Romantic Poetry too, was deemed as odd and almost bewitching, for, to many, it was almost spell like.

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

“Out of Focus”

 

 

“How comes it that all the white men on board who can read and write, and observe the sun, and know all things, yet swear, lie, and get drunk, only excepting yourself?”(188).  This passage while a rational question to ask, implicitly exposes the contradiction and hypocrisy that an Indian chief’s son witnesses and points out to Equiano amidst the Englishmen.  The young man, though seen as a “poor heathen” -as described in Equiano’s words, appears not be fooled by the fog of Christian rhetoric that they use to control natives and slaves.The young man’s clear point of view is, essentially illustrated,  within Robert Cruickshank’s anti-abolitionist cartoon.

Being that Equiano had tried to Christianize the young man, even to refer to the English author John Fox’s work Book of Martyrs, the young man became extremely confused with was being preached to him versus the corruption that was being displayed before his eyes.  Cruickshank’s cartoon is, too, confusing and hypocritical.  The red herrings found within that cartoon were cleverly placed there as propaganda to deter people from seeing the ugly truth about slavery -to continue to nurture the ignorance that caused people to go with the status quo of pro-slavery, in the first place.

The biggest conflict and contradiction is Equiano’s sense of allegiance in believing he must help the young man’s disbelief of Christianity.  Just like Cruickshank has attempted to persuade the people from not believing that slavery is even happening, Equiano is doing the same toward the young man’s state of mind about corruption in religion.  

While Cruickshank’s behavior cannot be excused, the conclusion to his way of thinking can only be sheer ignorance.  Equiano’s, on the other hand, is reprehensible as he knows first hand the experience of being enslaved, as well, the act of his cries going unheard -or worse, ignored.  

Cruickshank has skewed the focus on the lens for the audience who he knew he could bamboozle, and Equiano tried to do same with the young man, but failed.  Still, it did not affect Equiano much as he carried on with more undertakings and more missions, all while taking on his own slaves to help build plantations he’d come to own.  Thus, there is not much of a difference between the lies that are placed in the cartoon to the lies Equiano lived.

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

 

“I know what I know, therefore knowing what I know makes me so like smart; like, ya know?”-Sophia

Phebe Gibbs in, Hartley House, Calcutta, introduces the world to a privileged European sixteen year old Sofia, and her narrow perspective of life, through the letters she writes to her friend Anabella.  Throughout the description of India, and all its surroundings, is an over exaggerated sense of nostalgia.  The nostalgia, being she in the center of it all; and the center being her.  In each letter, she writes of the people she meets, and proceeds to analyze them, as well as rate them at different levels of importance.  Her grading system is all dependent of her own knowledge and level of education. Thus, whenever she responds to the acquaintance of someone new, she refers quite often to English literary works and authors to solidify her judgment of them.  

    Upon one of her location stays, she refers to a woman named Mrs. Rider who is giving her a tour of the Mrs. Hartley’s room and closet, and mentions:

“The drapery is well executed, the attitude happily chosen, the likeness masterly, the commentary of the Genius of Shakespeare, which lies on a table in the background…

I feel myself proud when my mind tells me this lady is my countrywoman”(Gibbs, 148).

Two things can be seen here: one, she places herself on a level of all-knowing and implies that what she is well versed on- such as that of authors like Shakespeare- entitle her to a sense of authority; and two, she places Mrs. Hartley in a higher echelon, only for having shown an affection for Shakespeare work, and in that attaches herself to Mrs. Hartley’s elite “worth.”

    Sophia, while truly convinced that she is exploring a new world, only continues to revisit the same conventions she is used to and glorifies -her own self, and that of anything glitzy and glamorous.  It indeed alludes to the  notion that even on a level of academia, her lack of really appreciating other scholars and not holding them up to that same regard as she does to European authors, shows how much European authors were viewed as exclusively supreme; or, rather, the bar to reach.

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

English: the best in the West

Here were are centuries later, far from the beginnings of when the English language started.  So, how did it get started? Pretty much the way writers like Johnson, are being highly critical of.  A melting pot, so to speak of a language, consisting of French, Spanish, Latin and Greek.  But the issue with the language doesn’t stop there. Macaulay with an ethno/eurocentric, upholding of the English language, feels appalled that there is even a debate about the matter of incorporating the teaching of the English language; and there is Ray with the strong belief that certain studies should be added to the curriculum.

While they all have different stances, and pitches when it comes to schools of thought, what they do have in common is that they disregard the afterthought of this way of thinking.  In other words, a set group of people’s way of reading, speaking, and thinking will cease to exist and, therefore, putting an end to a culture. Another common theme between all of them is that they have automatically taken on this authority, as if they all have the credibility to do so.

We have Johnson, who feels as though he has been divinely sent to correct such a mess of an entanglement, and the irony is is as he speaks ill of others forms of communication by referring to it as “jargon,” he himself, is going against the very claim he is arguing about -using specific words that most likely did not belong to his ancestral line.

Macaulay, felt that it was only through English that education could be properly transferred, and this attitude has is not far behind us..  It is still quite prevalent, and even in so much as to say that many of us whom are bilingual, have been told, directly or not, that if we choose to speak a foreign language (whatever that means), then we ought to “go back to” our “country.”

And finally, Roy, who while with what I believe had the best intentions, still intervened on the natural state of  learning in India, where the natives could have evolved with their own unique identities.

Essentially what we are looking at is the repeated act of unsolicited interference, and a lack of reciprocity when it came to learning new thoughts.  It was merely one sided teaching!

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

Image result for ethnocentrism comic

 

Gulliver Conforms

The suggestion given in Gulliver’s Travels aludes to the notion that Houyhnhnm way of living is the key to happiness, is perhaps Swift’s satiric method in showing how such a society is impossible, if anything, hysterically fictionalized.  In addition, as the reader, we can’t help but find it odd that the species do not carry a sense of their own individuality. If anything, their identities are rather ambiguous, thus the world that they live in lacks variety; in other words, there is no diversity, hence all Houyhnhnm are seen as perfect based on the reflection they see in one another.  

Gulliver’s arrival to the foreign land, and reception by the Houyhnhnm even shows their curiousity towards him for appearing different and for his choice in having migrated there. Gulliver describes in Part IV, Chapter I, “They were under great Perplexity about my Shoes and stockings, which they felt very often…using various gestures, not unlike those of a Philosopher,…when he would attempt to solve some new and difficult Phenomenon (209).” This not only shows their “perplexity,” but it also shows Gulliver’s as he can’t help but compare their characteristics, even in the way they delegate, versus what he is used to with the English.  

Later in the chapter we learn that the only diversity that does is exist is between two kinds, the Houyhnhnm and the Yahoos; of course, one is seen as less civil.  The irony in that is that Gulliver cannot distinguish the difference until it is brought to his attention, therefore again alluding to the impression that that species themselves are living a lie, a lie they have been conditioned to believe since their beginnings.  

Slowly, but surely we see Gulliver begin to remove any previous ways of thinking and beliefs he had, previous to arriving on their land.  He puts them on a pedestal, and eventually assimilates himself into their culture.  He disregards anything that seems unfair, especially the perspective they have towards the Yahoos; hence, we can assume that society would rather turn a blind eye to social injustices rather than resist.  Gulliver basically blindly conforms to the Houyhnhnm “enlightened” society.

-Maricela Martinez (Marcy)

*eugenics

*slave

*deportation

Rowlandson’s narrative tells it all.

 

I believe that the story confirms, contradicts, and complicates the history of intolerance and genocide.

Mary Rowlandson’s narrative gives a lens and perspective that complicates the morals attached to colonization -it creates a moral dilemma, if you will.  The imagery she presents in her writing, with the murder of one of her children, and the kidnapping of others, appeals to the emotions of the readers; whether the reader wants to or not, they will somehow sympathize with Rowlandson’s vexing experience.

At the same time, her description confirms the retaliation the natives released in their state of vigilant anger. While one may be in the position of sympathy, when reading her written work, it is the implicit understanding of that historical background, which lead up to that moment of retaliation, that one has to think about.  In Rowlandson’s experience, in comparison to the bigger picture of the American Holocaust -the systematic genocide of slavery, and violence, genocide- we can see that the numbers in the death toll do not compare.

In terms of contradiction, the story becomes so because of all of the above.  There is an internal conflict that goes on upon reading it.  We sympathize, we become angry, we are in the moment, while at the same time going back into the cruel history that led up to the crime.  We also have to be careful not to use our 21st century way of thinking when close reading this piece, but one can’t help but question any document written so long ago that one is not able to get answers to all the questions we have.  Why did she write this? Where was she when she wrote this? What effect did her gender role play on how she wrote it? What was she possibly forced to write in order to continue to the stereotype the natives were cast in? While we may not have the answers, one can conclude that she really believe that God was on her side, thus according to her, everything she saw and felt was correct.  More contradiction is when she refers to them as savages, even after the fact when they actually treated her well.

The lack of evidence, other than her words, creates a big gap.  And all we can do as a reader is look at it and attempt to put ourselves in that time period, and take from it our own individual understanding.

-Maricela Martinez