Magna Carta Holy Grail – My Take

Language – own up to new language – rap and hip hop – first stop – find a rap music station – 104.7 FM Winnipeg – obliges - must hide rap lessons from FAMFRI (family and friends) – 70 years old - c’mon – 70 – you’re too old – for hooking up to that mess - rap and hip hop mess – with its triangle of N, F and B words – triangle – triangle - triangle.

I don’t think so – praise technology for head phones - FAMFRI have no clue I’m wired to 104.7FM –  October 2013 - holy grail on the air – again – again – and again - how many times a day – holy grail - curiosity is pricked.
What’s up with this Canadian radio station giving holy grail so much airplay – must feed my curiosity – that’s right – here we are – dissertation – a dissertation from somebody clueless – clueless - clueless about –about rap n’ hip hop – clueless – did someone call my name?

As an an intruder into the space, streets, street gear, sounds, smell, colours, code of conduct, ball games, jokes, jealousy, love, hate, finances and non-finances that make up the world of rap and hip hop, I think Holy Grail means more than ‘holy’.  Holy as in the holy ghost?  I don’t think so.   It means something to people who live rap and hip hop and I’m not part of the equation.

I’m throwing down this dissertation because the architects that designed Magna Carta had me in mind.  Seduction.  Talk about seduction.  Show time!  Justin Timberlake and his issues with someone who switched off his hydro a long time ago knock on my door, or should I say ear.  I step aside and let him in.  Holy Grail.  That’s the cut.  Holy Grail. 
Now that he has my attention, he relays the mike to an architect they call Jay-Z.  He lays it down for me.  I still don’t get it because I don’t know the language so I jump up and down like a child blowing soap bubbles and catch the little I know from the public domain. 

Media power
The media.  These United States of America, as someone once put it.  I can relate to that.  Jay-Z doesn’t buy into the myth that the media is good for the soul or bank balance.  He mentions CNN and Fox.  Flash bulbs in particular.  He even says they hurt his eyes.  The media will always be around here somewhere and I won’t miss another debate on it because I don’t like rap and hip hop.  Why not?  It’s those words, the N, F, and B triangle of words. 

Flip the script then.  Ignore them.  Invert the triangle and listen to the cut Holy Grail, as it bleeds about how the media affected Michael Jackson, Hammer and Mike Tyson.  Cameras gnaw so-called celebrities so badly, some have decided on a no-pearly-whites policy – no smile – no toothpaste smile.
Nada! - that’s right – no pearly whites for the paparazzi on a pretence trip – pretence that the public has a right to know – to know what – that I cannot even take my daughter for a walk right to know – Jay Z protests.  Holy grail!

You don’t think so?  I don’t blame you.  I told you I don’t know the lingua franca.  Rap and hip hop is a way of life.  Members only.  For members only.  Only family members are meant to understand, although the artist says ‘we are entertainers’.   Family members are also in a better position to write this dissertation because they know where the umbilical cord is buried.
Music producers and power
That’s right.  Umbilical cord.  Once upon a time BD (before digital), handlers who had the cash and resources to press music into vinyl, cassettes and CD’s felt that the umbilical cord was bad news for the mainstream.  Rationale.  Here is their rationale.  Mainstream members will enjoy the yams but have no interest in the soil and climatic conditions where they grow. 

Mainstream?  We won’t even go there.  What is?  Who decides?  What is mainstream? Question?  Who is streaming the main in how kids around the world walk, talk, greet each other, wear oversize clothes, turn baseball caps backwards, drop pants to zero and untie their shoelaces.  Who was rapping in the hood before rap and hip hop hit the airwaves?  Go figure.  Catch a Bollywood movie, and see the influence of fly girls in song sequences.
The umbilical cord.  The blues are a result of a time and place.  Handlers wanted to take it to the mainstream, so they went gardening and yanked out the umbilical cord.  What is known as rock music was a result of a time and place.  The umbilical cord was tossed aside.  Everything is nice and polite now in their condos at the music store: rock and rhythm and blues.  

Illiteracy.  The illiteracy about rap and hip hop comes from the attempt to ‘lose’ the umbilical cord.  The end result is an interpretation that zeros on the N, F and B words.  Interpretation. 

Magna Carta Holy Grail is a compromise to accommodate the uninitiated.  Song first, then the dissertation.  Dissertation.   Big words are in order.  Architects in Magna Carta use them.  Magnum Opus.  Allow me to use dissertation.  Dissertation is not to be confused with dissing. 

Magna Carta Six O’Clock News
Magna Carta brings to the digital device near you issues like slavery, the legal situation called joint custody, ‘nobody taught me how to be a father’, from government cheese to eating steaks, bloods dying in their teens and late teens, greatness as a virtue as in Cassius Clay, history as in Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and individualism according to Frank Sinatra’s I did it my way.

Magna Carta architects should be certified ‘made in the U.S.A’ but the album’s spin is Europe and its ruins.  The cover speaks for itself.  I don’t do the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so I don’t know these guys on the black and white cover. They are the lucky ones.  What happened to the nose of the Sphinx?  I must call someone at the Museum and get the 911 on that.
Made in America.  100%.  The cut somewhereinamerica, is about class and how the greenback kicks it to the curb. 

Magna Carta architects rap about ‘bluebloods trying to clown on me’, men with new cash taking over neighbourhoods where bluebloods live, rap architects showing off status road hogs such as the impatient yellow Lamborghini in the driveway and the number of zeros in their bank accounts. 

They boast about their knowledge of math from one million dollars to 20 million.  They are not counting beyond that.
Neighbourhoods.  Somewhereinamerica deals with prime real estate and ownership.  The cut reminds me of Cookout, a crazy movie starring Queen Latifah where a basketball star moves into an exclusive gated community to the horror of his neighbours.  Somewhereinamerica reclaims the American dream that cash is king. 

African American History
Oceans is one of my favourite cuts but I have no clue what Magna Carta architects are talking about.  Is it about that movie Ocean Eleven?  I don’t watch Hollywood’s chewed-up gum so I wouldn’t know.  Oceans.  I’ll just wing it. 

I think there’s a ship docked somewhere in the Ivory Coast, Africa there is.  Mercedes in a row, I don’t know.  That’s not about the status car is it?  I’m language deficient, but allow me.  I figure spilling champagne on the water is related to the past.
Magna Carta architects might be paying homage to slaves, ship owners threw overboard after killing them.  Others died from diseases associated with being caged like animals in the underbelly of a ship.  Maybe spilling champagne on the water is a libation to all those Africans who never made it to America. 

No, not the promised land.  America was a promised land to those that travelled on the upper deck and watched the journey through binoculars. 

See Spike Lee’s film Malcolm X and Denzel Washington’s performance of a lifetime. "We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us!"
Magna Carta is also prime American because of status symbols like the Lamborghini in the driveway.  Don’t blame rap architects.  It is just the way it is.  Manufacturers of designer clothes just love those women novelists who give them free advertising in their books. 

So what if Magna Carta throws in some Bugatti, Mercedes, Cadillac, Maybach, Addidas?  It’s the American way baby.  Where’s Ving Rhames?  He likes saying ‘baby’ right? 

America is and has always been about me, moi, muje, mina in all the world’s languages so please give Magna Carta architects a break when they say, ‘Let me be great.’  It is labelled ‘assertive’ in the country known as the U.S.

Magna Carta online and social networking
I digress.  The internet.  Online.  Digital.  Remember how they compromised the umbilical cord for the mainstream?  Magna Carta architects control the means of production, courtesy of everything digital and the borderless playing field called the internet.

S/he who controls the means of production controls the umbilical cord.  The internet is part of those means.   My crèche is the internet says Jay Z.  The cut Tom Ford raps about re-tweets and Twitter’s 140 characters. 
Supporting cast
Dismissing rap and hip hop as a non-starter because of the N, F, and B words is a big loss because the supporting cast of horns, piano, drums, bass, guitars, violins, and other instruments serve a good platter of music. Make that music of magnus opus proportion.

Example?  Picasso Baby.  I’m a great fan.  Dum-du-du-dum.  That’s right dum-du-du-dum.  How about that piano thing in somewhereinamerica?  Love the drums in Oceans.
A language is a means to an end.  Rap and hip hop language have certain messages for its members.  They are talking to each other but I can eavesdrop because the world has gone digital.  I don’t have to like it but it is here and now and affects me directly or indirectly. 

It is a living language, not dead like Shakespeare.  Shakespeare reminds me of the downside of education, which was to make me ‘better’ than my mother who worked as a maid to take me to university.  
If you enjoy Shakespeare although you don’t understand it, you’ll find your way into rap and hip hop.  It’s cheaper than college tuition for English Lit.  O.K.  You don’t like the N, F, and B words, take them out, the same way you remove olives from your salad. Step up to the plate, peel that litchi.

That’s it.  Magna Carta.  Holy Grail, my second rap CD.  The first one was The Chosen Ones by Toronto-based rappers, Thrust and Salty Jackson.  Peace.

Siyabonda! (Zulu language  - We're stirring things up).

Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness The Novel.






Popular Posts