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"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

January 10, 2008

"I, Too, Dream in Color and in Rhyme"

By: Bernard Chazelle

People ask me why I love hip-hop. This is why.

First, J. Ivy tells you what it's about.

Now the tune. Jay-Z wastes little time reminding you why the illest rapper in the business still produces the tightest rhymes. No one else phrases like Jay-Z. Listen to the phrasing: that's where you find the magic of rap!

Yo, first I snatched the streets, then I snatched the charts.
First I had their ear, now I have their heart.
Rappers came and went, I've been here from the start...
I've seen them repo-ed, resold and redriven.
So when I reload, he holds number one position.
When you hot I'm hot.
And when your feet cold, mine's sizzlin'.
It's plain to see...

Next in line, Kanye "You see a black family, it says, 'They're looting.' You see a white family, it says, 'They're looking for food.' " West takes it back to the political "Public Enemy" Chuck D era.

I get down for my grandfather who took my momma.
Made her sit in that seat where white folks ain't wanna us to eat.
At the tender age of 6 she was arrested for the sit-in.
With that in my blood I was born to be different.
Now niggas can't make it to ballots to choose leadership.
But we can make it to Jacob and to the dealership...
Racism's still alive, they just be concealing it.
But I know they don't want me in the damn club...
I know I got angels watching me from the other side.

The hook for J. Ivy to connect it all back up to where it belongs.

... If I were on the highest cliff, on the highest riff.
And you slipped off the side and clinched on to your life in my grip,
I would never, ever let you down.
And when these words are found,
Let it been known that God's penmanship has been signed with a language called love.
That's why my breath is felt by the deaf.
And why my words are heard and confined to the ears of the blind.
I, too, dream in color and in rhyme.
So I guess I'm one of a kind in a full house.
Cuz whenever I open my heart, my soul, or my mouth,
A touch of God reigns out.

— Bernard Chazelle

Posted at January 10, 2008 06:57 PM

I dig a lotta hip hop, too, brotha...Michael Franti, Kanye, da roots, too
but for rhymed couplets, I'll take Pope AY NEE TAHM! Thank'ee...

"Be thou the first true merit to befriend,
his praise is lost who stays till all commend."

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd;

And my favorite Unrhymed, though it be): Blessed be he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.

Posted by: konopelli/wgg at January 10, 2008 07:46 PM

do you like Little Brother?

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at January 10, 2008 11:24 PM


I love southern rap.

First time ever black music moved north south.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at January 11, 2008 12:39 AM

Whenever I notice, I'm always struck by the difference between black music forty years ago and today. The sixties music was one of the most important strongholds in American society of basic decency and humanity and actual hope. But much of that's been washed away, except for a few pockets here and there like Kayne West. Now lots of the music's taken on all the worst aspects of white culture and exudes cruelty and bitter hopelessness. I really think this was one of the biggest victories imaginable for Cheney & co.

Bernard, do you know David O. Russell's funny story about what Saïd Taghmaoui said about growing up in Villepinte?

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at January 11, 2008 08:14 AM

i like hip hop, but a lot of what's on TV is not my flute of Kristal :)

Posted by: almostinfamous at January 11, 2008 10:16 AM

Jon: I don't.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at January 11, 2008 11:07 AM

Jon: Something to keep in mind about rap is that it's music for white youth. Blacks don't listen to rap. OK, this is an exaggeration, but by and large blacks listen to R&B, not rap. Early rap was for blacks, but the whole gangsta drift was a commercial gimmick by label companies to attract the big bucks of white teenagers. So yes there you have it, the fine touch of Cheney & Co.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at January 11, 2008 11:15 AM

Racism's still alive, they just be concealing it.

But doesn't the fact that Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses change everything?

Posted by: SteveB at January 11, 2008 11:53 AM

SteveB: Of course you are right. But, remember, the song was written BEFORE Iowa!

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at January 11, 2008 01:48 PM

Hilary dreams if she thinks to attract black voters.
Blacks are more racist than whites.

Posted by: White girl from Africa at January 15, 2008 11:58 PM

I will vote for BARACK OBAMA.
I love him!

Posted by: White girl from Africa at January 16, 2008 12:00 AM