Okay first of sorry i’m late, i had a very busy week last week and while i HAD planned a time to write a blog, a slight confrontation (which i don’t now the reason for) basically cut a evening out of my schedule.
So for this blog i’m going to do something i haven’t done since grade school, a book report.
The book in question is Book of Rhymes The Poetics of Hiphop by Adam Bradley. It’s a look at hiphop from a strictly poetic viewpoint, with a few comments toward other aspects of the music.
The books is split in two parts each with 3 chapters. As i see it, the two parts can be view as part 1 being about form in a superficial sense (rhythm rhyme and wordplay) and part 2 about shaping the content creatively (signifying, story and style).
This book is not written as a how to rap or write hiphop lyrics book in any aspect, it is, like i said a poetic view on hiphop written by a Ph. D. in english. Bradley says at one point in the book, that it encourages reading rap on the page. Basically like a poem, not as music. That said he does in the introduction (called Rap Poetry 101) explians that none of the two aspects take away from the other. To quote him:
“There’s no need to disparage one to respect the other. In fact, perhaps more than any other lyrical form, rap demands that we acknowledge its dual identity as word and song”
With that in mind, some might think that it’s more for the literature classes then the music classes. The point certainly got some merit, the book is strictly aimed at hiphops audience, not makers and i do actually know that the book is used in some modern culture and English classes.
The thing is that how to books, especially in terms of creative dealings, are often either very focused on one or two theories, school of thought or methods and completely ignoring any other method, or the complete opposite, giving you some very basic information, but no real means of pursuing anything. While the first one got some merit if you are a complete beginner, it’s actually what i would prefer as a complete beginner, but any sort of guide for people with some experience in the field is hard to make and sadly very hard to find as well.
I think that this book is a great tool for people that are writing lyrics and have been for some time. First and most simply by showing you a way of thinking, that you might not have thought about as well as not generally thought of. Secondly and perhaps more interesting, they give you tools to analyse your lyrics and reflect on them and how to change and evolve them.
In terms of actually using the book as a tool for lyrics writing, i think that you should read this and look at what of the elements that are in your lyrics as a whole, while some of these elements often varies a lot from song to song (especially in terms of storytelling), experience tells me that often some elements while be more or less persistent in your lyrics. Start by looking at them, what are they. If you see a certain rhyme structure that is coherent in your writings, ask yourself what qualities does it give your lyrics and can it be expanded upon?
The second thing i think you need to do is actually listen to the examples that he gives, now granted that many of these songs will be well known for any true hiphop head, however i don’t think that only rappers can use this book, but anybody writing lyrics. So if you are writing in another genre and wanting to read this book, use it as tool for songwriting, get ready to listen to some hiphop.
That’s it for this time.