Guest poem sent in by David Wright
(Poem #1177) The Way I Am
This song is for anyone f--k it. Just shut up and listen I sit back with this pack of Zig Zags and this bag of this weed it gives me the s--t needed to be the most meanest MC on this Earth and since birth I've been cursed with this curse to just curse and just blurt this berserk and bizarre s--t that works And it sells and it helps in itself to relieve all this tension dispensin these sentences Gettin this stress that's been eatin me recently off of this chest and I rest again peacefully but at least have the decency in you to leave me alone, when you freaks see me out in the streets when I'm eatin or feedin my daughter to not come and speak to me I don't know you and no, I don't owe you a mo-therf--k-ing thing, I'm not Mr. N'Sync, I'm not what your friends think I'm not Mr. Friendly, I can be a prick if you tempt me my tank is on empty No patience is in me and if you offend me I'm liftin you 10 feet in the air I don't care who is there and who saw me destroy you Go call you a lawyer, file you a lawsuit I'll smile in the courtroom and buy you a wardrobe I'm tired of all you... I don't mean to be mean but that's all I can be is just me And I am, whatever you say I am If I wasn't, then why would I say I am? In the paper, the news everyday I am Radio won't even play my jam Cause I am, whatever you say I am If I wasn't, then why would I say I am? In the paper, the news everyday I am I don't know it's just the way I am Sometimes I just feel like my father, I hate to be bothered with all of this nonsense it's constant And, "Oh, it's his lyrical content - - the song 'Guilty Conscience' has gotten such rotten responses" And all of this controversy circles me and it seems like the media immediately points a finger at me So I point one back at 'em, but not the index or pinkie or the ring or the thumb, it's the one you put up when you don't give a f--k, when you won't just put up with the bulls--t they pull, cause they full of s--t too When a dude's getting bullied and shoots up his school and they blame it on Marilyn and the heroin - Where were the parents at? And look where it's at Middle America, now it's a tragedy Now it's so sad to see, an upper class ci-ty havin this happenin then attack Eminem cause I rap this way But I'm glad cause they feed me the fuel that I need for the fire to burn and it's burnin and I have returned. I'm so sick and tired of bein admired that I wish that I would just die or get fired and dropped from my label and stop with the fables I'm not gonna be able to top on "My Name is..." And pigeon-holed into some pop-py sensation to cop me rotation at rock'n'roll stations And I just do not got the patience to deal with these cocky caucasians who think I'm some wigger who just tries to be black cause I talk with an ac- cent, and grab on my balls, so they always keep askin the same f--kin questions What school did I go to, what hood I grew up in The why, the who what when, the where, and the how 'til I'm grabbin my hair and I'm tearin it out cause they drivin me crazy... I can't take it I'm racin, I'm pacin, I stand and I sit And I'm thankful for ev- ery fan that I get But I can't take a sh-t, in the bathroom without someone standin by it No I won't sign your autograph You can call me an ass---le I'm glad cuz I am, whatever you say I am If I wasn't, then why would I say I am? In the paper, the news everyday I am Radio won't even play my jam Cause I am, whatever you say I am If I wasn't, then why would I say I am? In the paper, the news everyday I am I don't know it's just the way I am
Im one of an increasing number of older music fans who are listening to Eminem and other rappers and while Im not out to proselytize for rap, I dont know many poetry people who are interested in his work, or in other rappers and least of all those old-school poetry fans who feel in their heart of hearts that it isnt really poetry if it doesnt have strong metrics or even rhyme. Little do they know were in a renaissance of rhyme right now, and for millions of Americans, this is poetry. And I really think hes one of the best satirists out there today, and that the rhyming and rhythmic skills of artists like Eminem, Jay-Z, Nas and others is right up there with Chaucer. The audacity, outrage, pain, absurdity, intelligence, irony and sheer guts of much of Eminems stuff is impressive. It doesn't translate all that well to the page, but for readers who'll never go near the music, I think it might be worthwhile to have some idea what's going on, hence this submission. Im an old fan of Middle English lit, and I couldnt help but be struck by the similarity of this stuff to Skeltonics. (Im not the first person to draw this connection see: John Skelton: The Godfather of Rap http://searchenginez.com/skelton.html) Take a look at this excerpt from Colyn Clout and youll see right away what I mean Skelton was going after Cardinal Wolsey. From Colyn Clout (1519) W H A T can it avail To drive forth a snail, Or to make a sale Of an herrings tail; To rhyme or to rail, To write or to indict, Either for delight Or else for despite; Or books to compile Of divers manner style, Vice to revile And sin to exile; To teach or to preach, As reason will reach? Say this, and say that, His head is so fat, He wotteth never what Nor whereof he speaketh; He cryeth and he creaketh, He pryeth and he peaketh, He chides and he chatters, He prates and he patters, He clytters and he clatters, He meddles and he smatters, He glosses and he flatters; Or if he speak plain, Than he lacketh brain, He is but a fool; Let him go to school, On a three footed stool That he may down sit, For he lacketh wit; And if that he hit The nail on the head, It standeth in no stead; The devil, they say, is dead, The devil is dead. It may well so be, Or else they would se Otherwise, and flee From worldly vanity, And foul covetousness, And other wretchedness, Fickle falseness, Variableness, With unstableness. And if ye stand in doubt Who brought this rhyme about, My name is Colyn Cloute. I purpose to shake out All my conning bag, Like a clerkly hag; For though my rhyme be ragged, Tattered and jagged, Rudely rayne beaten, Rusty and moth-eaten, If ye take well therewith, It hath in it some pith. For, as far as I can se, It is wrong with each degree: For the temporality Accuseth the spirituality; The spiritual again Doth grudge and complain Upon the temporal men: Thus each of other blother The tone against the tother: Alas, they make me shudder! Lest you think that Skelton has the edge for being politically inclined, heres some more Eminem - From Squaredance - (The Eminem Show) Let your hair down to the track, yeah kick on back (Boo!) The Boogiemonster of rap, yeah the man's back with a plan to ambush this Bush administration Mush the Senate's face in, push this generation of kids to stand and fight for the right to say somethin you might not like, this white hot light that I'm under, no wonder I look so sunburnt Oh no I won't leave no stone unturned Oh no I won't leave, won't go nowhere Do-si-do, oh-yo-ho, hello there Oh yeah, don't think I won't go there Go to Beirut and do a show there. Yeah you laugh till your motherf--kin ass gets drafted While you're at band camp thinkin the crap can't happen 'Til you f--k around, get an anthrax napkin Inside a package wrapped in Saran Wrap wrappin Open the plastic and then you stand back gaspin F--kin assassins, hijackin Amtraks, crashin All this terror, America demands action Next thing you know, you've got Uncle Sam's ass askin to join the Army or what you'll do for their Navy You just a baby, getting recruited at eighteen You're on a plane now, eatin their food and their baked beans I'm twenty-eight, they gon take you 'fore they take me Crazy insane, or insane crazy? When I say Hussein, you say Shady My views ain't changed, still inhumane, wait Arraigned two days late, the date's today, hang me! And as someone who values our First Amendment freedoms, its hard not to admire a guy who throws down a lyric like this to an audience a hundred times larger than that of any pen-and-ink poet I can think of. Sam Hamill and Amiri Baraka eat your hearts out... From White America (The Eminem Show) So to the parents of America I am the derringer aimed at little Erica to attack her character The ringleader of this circus of worthless pawns Sent to lead the march right up to the steps of Congress and piss on the lawns of the White House - to burn the flag and replace it with a Parental Advisory sticker To spit liquor in the faces of this democracy of hypocrisy F--k you Ms. Cheney! F--k you Tipper Gore! F--k you with the free-est of speech this Divided States of Embarrassment will allow me to have- F--k you! -- Eminem (from the Marshall Mathers LP) David Wright [Martin adds] As David rightly predicted when he sent this in, I was in two minds about running it. I admit to not being a fan of rap music (and, in particular, not a fan of Eminem and his ilk, who seem to me to overdo the use of expletives for a diminishingly-returned shock value), and was somewhat worried about the potential offensiveness of the lyrics. Still, David's commentary was interesting and thought provoking, and I think what finally tipped the balance was the realisation that I would have run the Skelton piece for sheer historical value, even though I didn't care too much for it either. Also, to be perfectly fair, rap was never intended to be standalone verse - like many other song genres, it works much better with its accompanying music, and tends to suffer when printed in isolation. In particular, there is a certain apparent roughness to the verse rhythms that in actuality is not so much rough as performance-oriented. Rap may scan by sheer fiat in places, but it does so very convincingly. And, more than any other form I've seen, it has raised assonance to the status of a perfectly acceptable substitute for a true rhyme. The assonance mixes freely with the rhyme, and the both work - no mean feat. And finally, as David so rightly pointed out, for those of you who will never listen to the music, it's nice to have at least a passing idea of what's out there.