There Is a Reason to the Rhyme
Toward the end of 2011, a new blog hit the web. Its name: Rhymes and Reasons. Its purpose: to provide a series of interviews with hip-hop heads who discuss their lives in the context of the songs that matter to them. Its creators: Edward Vogel and Eric Roberts.
Rhymes and Reasons tells the stories of hip-hop. Being born out of resistance, hip-hop is in many ways an act of solidarity in and of itself—the music, an oral history detailing why and how people struggle to survive in a society that marginalizes them. It is an attempt to document a history that our society is structured to ignore. It is the story of the poor, the imprisoned, the beaten down, as well as a story of the Beatitudes and the Works of Mercy.
- Read Edward Vogel’s article, Are You Down for the Cause or Because? Appreciating Hip-Hop’s Justice Roots.
- Read Eric Roberts’ article, Explicit Content: It’s the Form that Counts, debating so-called “conscious hip-hop.”
Organizing to Keep Ya Head Up:
Interview with Jasson Perez
Rhymes and Reasons opened 2012 by interviewing community organizer Jasson Perez. Chicago born and raised, Jasson Perez is a community representative for SEIU Local 73 (representing more than 27,000 workers, primarily in public service and publicly funded positions including school districts and social service agencies), as well as one of the members of the rap group BBU. Listen to selections of that interview now:
The power of hip-hop: “I would not be the father I am if it were not for hip-hop, that’s real.” The message: “you’re going to make it, you can’t let the system win.”
Listen to Jasson’s entire interview on Rhymes and Reasons. Watch 2Pac’s “Keep Ya Head Up”:
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?
I think it’s time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies, that make the babies
And since a man can’t make one
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one
So will the real men get up
I know you’re fed up ladies, but keep your head up…
I try and find my friends, but they’re blowin in the wind
Last night my buddy lost his whole family
It seems tha rain’ll never let up
I try to keep my head up, and still keep from gettin wet up
You know it’s funny when it rains it pours
They got money for wars, but can’t feed the poor
We ain’t meant to survive, cause it’s a setup
And even though you’re fed up
Huh, ya got to keep your head up…
Listen to other interviews on Rhymes and Reasons. For instance, HB Sol, in his interview, clearly articulates the solidarity of hip-hop when he discusses Nas’ ability in “NY State of Mind” to communicate the exact struggles that were occurring simultaneously all across the country in different cities with his lyrics. Shannon Matesky discusses hip-hop’s ties to human rights when she discusses Eve’s “Love is Blind” in the context of her own rape: how hip-hop helped her not to be ashamed of being a survivor of sexual violence in a society that wants to treat her like she is at fault.
Unbound would like to thank Rhymes and Reasons as it continues to tell “the stories of hip-hop, of rap music, the stories of a million MCs who inside of them the words are coming, the words they need to make sense of the world around them.”
Keep ya head up.