Friday, February 18, 2011

Rap Lovers Can't Take A Joke

More than several years ago, I wrote a piece entitled "Rap This." It is a humor essay. It is a joke. It makes fun of me, a little white gal, who used to listen to rap only when it played in her old boyfriend's car. It makes fun of some of the students I've taught over the years who think rap is the only kind of poetry worth knowing. It's comedy, people. Seriously, comedy.

This piece morphed a little and was hailed by one David Rakoff during a workshop at Southampton's Writers Conference before the college was turned over to StonyBrook and before the Conference started limiting the wine to one glass a night. So there you go; it's funny.

The Irascible Professor posts commentaries, so I submitted this one and he posted it on his site. I've submitted others since, and they never got posted, so he does have an editorial stance.

And now for how people have no sense of humor.

You would not believe the number of back and forth emails I received with the Professor moderating as the go-between. People were livid that I dared to declare that rap is not poetry. It's art! It's poetry! How dare you, yo!

Seriously, did no one read the first part about how I could rattle off the names of the Wu Tang Clan? Wu! Tang! Wu! Tang! Did no one read about swooping lovers on rocks for orgasms? Apparently, even if they read it, they simply didn't get it.

And now for how to make a funny thing really unfunny by explaining why it is funny:

Sometimes those in the English profession have a difficult time not correcting incorrect language use. So, in complaining that rap music, and other music which I mention, has language-based errors, I am mocking both myself and my profession. It is humor based on self-deprecation. See? That is part of "funny."

After the onslaught of emails, another website popped up, someone's response to "Rap This" about how I was wrong about rap music not being poetry.

Again, that is not the point of the essay! It is a sarcastic commentary!

Then, the flood of response settled and drifted away. No more complaints. No more defending of all that is lyric and rhythm.

Until today. Until the Irascible Professor forwarded me an email from a supposedly 14 year old girl who is just now reading and responding to the piece, explaining to me why, indeed, rap is poetry. First, let me say, the email was very well-written and has rationale and argument that far surpasses some of my own students. She also thanks me at the end if I've read that far. So kudos to a young girl (if it is a 14 year old girl and not some sad 25 year old rapper who can't cut it in the business) who can write.

But still, that's not the point of the essay! I'm going to look into teaching a course on how to detect sarcasm. The world at large has lost its ability to "get it."

By the way, if rap is poetry, why did Tupac put out a book of poems that are different from his lyrics? If rap is poetry, wouldn't his book be filled with his rap lyrics? (Sarcasm alert! Sarcasm alert! See how this works? It's funny. I swear to you, it is).

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