Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Gangster Rap is 3000 years old

The Ancient Greek bards were rappers. The Iliad and the Odyssey were rap songs ... about rape and slaughter. The epic poems like the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf and the Norse poetic Eddas were equally barbaric reinventions of the Ancient tradition.

Rap is all about beat rather than melody. The ancient Greek epics were chanted. Non-existent melody, so-so rhymes, but very strong beat and rhythm. Also, it may be difficult to believe but as non-melodic and violent as rap is, ancient epics were worse.

This is the first time I've noticed it. I'm used to thinking of the ancient epics as really shitty murderous stories. Because that's the known-wrong belief in the literature departments which all consider the Iliad to be something written for purposes of territorial appropriation.

Well, they weren't. They were really shitty trance-inducing murderous rap songs. It kinda strips all the allure off of the Iliad, assuming it has any, when you put it in proper context. Not something alien and primitive, but very familiar and primitive. Or just primitive.

Academic types have a real blind spot to this because they can't be seen, or even THINK, that they're wasting their time studying something low class. Even when they compare the Iliad TO rap, they minimize the resemblance, saying it's "freestyle like jazz and rap". Jazz? WTF?!

It's why performers say stupid shit like "rap Iliad" instead of "original Iliad". If anything, their performances are weak and not nearly hardcore enough because the Iliad was more rap than rap. It was more violent and less melodic than all but the most extreme gangster rap.

Oh and the Iliad is not a poem except in the loosest sense. And Homer was never a poet anymore than he was a writer or a singer (he was a scribe). We don't call rap songs 'poems', we call them rap. And the Iliad? The Iliad is not "like" rap. The Iliad IS rap!

2 comments:

watermark0n said...

The English translations don't have very much in common with poetry (most of them are God-awful prose translations anyway, so indeed by definition not poetry), but in the original Ancient Greek it has a clear meter. It is unlike our meter, in that, rather than varying stressed and unstressed syllables, it varied between long and short syllables (this type of poetry is almost impossible in English, due to the nature of our language). Things like rhyming are extra fluff that people use in English because the language, unlike Ancient Greek, is otherwise aesthetically bland. Poetry is, by definition, using the aesthetic qualities of the language to evoke meaning rather than simply the prosaic qualities, it is not "the use of rhyming", as is so often thought by English speakers. You may wish to redefine things, but it is a curious redefinition by a person who's largely ignorant of the subject on which he speaks, has probably never read the Iliad, has certainly never read it in the original Ancient Greek, and has little understanding of the issues involved. In general, I think it is a redefinition that will find little note.

Richard Kulisz said...

You're so wrong it's ridiculous. I wouldn't call French 'aesthetically bland' and yet Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac is quite nice with its rhyming. As for your pathetic meters in Shakespeare or any other poetry, they just disgust me.

I was left completely indifferent and cold to them when I had no idea what they were about. Once I read Julian Jaynes' explanation of them, that meters were aids to chanting, aids to memorization, aids to trance states. THEN I became openly hostile and contemptuous of them.

I despise meters because their purpose is to annihilate conscious minds. And given YOU think that all poetry SHOULD have meters, I fucking despise YOU!

Go away you lying little freak. Not only are you lying about the nature of poetry, about the relative importances of meter and rhyme, but you're an odious bag of shitty scum.