I loves me some rap music! I was a suburban break-dancer back in ’84 (pronounced: “eddy-fow”). J.P. Bonnett Junior High, y’all! My boy Damen and I had a crew called ‘Zip-Lock.’ We practiced on his back patio with a giant sheet of linoleum we stole from a home being constructed in the neighborhood. We choreographed awesome routines and had dance battles in the school cafetorium. We devoured all the rap music we could find…Siberian Nights, Siberian Nights…
The best thing about rap music is the unwavering love of self:
“Lyrically handsome, come collect the King’s ransom
Jams I write soon become the ghetto anthem
Way out like Bruce Wayne’s mansion, I move like a phantom” – Mos Def
It is also the most absurd thing about rap music:
“Young, black, and famous, with money hangin’ out the anus.” – Mase
Uhhhhh…what? Bravado. Confidence. Swagger. Even with dollar bills shoved up your butt. Every rapper from Fab Five Freddy to Lupe Fiasco (Yes, even cuckoo bird pretty-boy Kanye West) knows you do not get ahead in The Game with quiet introspection and self-doubt. You may have doubts, but you never, ever spit rhymes about them. As much as we all deplore narcissism and braggadocio in real life, rappers are on to something – Sell Yo’self! Hard work, humility, and perseverance are wonderful, even preferred, attributes. But they’ve been bred into us as such absolutes we’re afraid to speak out and declare ourselves for fear of looking like a…place where Mase keeps his cash.
We’ve all got a Game. Maybe not THE Game, like Ice Cube and Dr. Dre are playing, but something; business, career, family. And we’ve got to learn that no matter how great you are - the person that declares what they want is more likely to get it. It’s not brash or egotistical to say it. I WANT IT. And I’m GOOD, DAMMIT! Pick your battles, for sure, but when the opportunity comes be ready to pull the trigger. RAP METAPHOR!!!
So what’s the improv connection? Throw on a character. “Jay, I do a great old lady with a limp and a lisp. She’s British!” <record scratch>..okay. How about just a real person with a strong point of view? So it can easily be just…you. If declaring yourself at the appropriate time and place is not in your nature, practice being you plus some. Business is not in my nature. I’ve had to learn it. And often that has meant throwing on a version of me, we’ll call him Jay2, to get things done. It gets a little easier every time, until eventually You+Some is just another side of your personality. At your disposal when needed.
And, hell yes that’s me in the picture up top. At a rap battle in Toronto, no less. I declared myself good enough and came in second. ;o)
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