On September 19th-21st, The Source360 will showcase some of today’s prominent and brave Poets to represent the generation.
Every generation has few courageous voices who’s words express the incomprehensible that many feel but cannot define; the climate that sweeps a nation or group of people that many come in contact with, but cannot describe. Voices that have made such a connection to those inexplicably difficult emotions within histories context creating a consciousness for others to understand from the outside looking in; and for those on the inside, to find sanity in their confusion or lack of representation. The poet is a force with every brush stroke of his pen.
While the modern day poet may wear the face of a rapper, or slam-poet, today, where as in the earlier 20th century, he may have been, say, a novelist, or church representative in the 1800’s – the Poets – with their keen story-telling ability to express the inexpressible holds a vital place for the peoples needs throughout history and its civilizations.
Forces who’s words throughout socio-economic fluctuations, wars, and turmoil narrated the inner turmoil and unheard screams that for the most part never got to the streets. And for most affected and living in these periods of history these emotions would not have been defined, nor made aware, had it not been for the few brave soul’s who’s courage to stare adversity in the eye; meant saving many, for the sacrifice of themselves, their truths, and those tied to their stories. Poets have told prophecies, changed history, and their faces throughout the course of it while their prominence in the social hierarchy has too been altered, however, one fact remains: while the history books define the overall landscape of a country – the poet describes the inner experience of the individual throughout it.
From Shakespeare narrating the politics of human nature in a given environment, to Tupac painting pictures of the urban ghetto, to now kendrick lamar facing the tribulations of poorer cities like Compton that have earned him a a class at Georgia Regents University – it has and will always be the writers who’s medium immortalizes thoughts that affected and were influenced by transient temperaments and temporary complexes.
Like Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, and many before him, Kendrick Llamar is now a topic of discussion within universities studying his debut album Good Kid M.A.A.d City. This kind of accolade is the kind highlighted when mentioning the worth of the poet in understanding his own circumstances. influenced by socio-economic, religious, and external influences, that affects all alike him, the poet gives a total encapsulation of a group of people living in a time context.
Kendrick Lamar is the poet and representative for the child today living in the ghetto, though not a victim to its psychological affects, however, inspired by its culture. His stand point is a detached one; where he is more of a spy of what is going on in the daily happenings of urban America, rather than a participator; which gives his lyricism depth and analysis, compared to someone who is fully entrenched, and blinded by the rhythms. Ironically, that time context can only be progressed and changed for the better by the discussion created by the poets, and artists alike, in activating awareness. Those voices willing to scream in the middle of the street of what is going on while some accept and sleep, for the rest who don’t even know what’s going on. Like James Baldwin once said, “The only way to analyze America was to leave it.”
One can parallel Baldwin’s statement metaphorically to Kendricks Lamar’s involvement but constant ambivalence towards his surroundings.
In the 1950’s amid racial segregation and disparity, James Baldwin, black, gay, and poor dared illustrate the inner workings of a man living in a time period of oppression; within faculties of religious doctrine that saw them push his shoulders down all the way to his knees where he was asked to beg for mercy. This was the case Baldwin made when describing his upbringing in a religious household , within a world that held no room for such differences; and it was Baldwin, who’s literary voice for The Civil Rights movement helped segue into the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that changed the very landscape he could only describe let alone bare.
Aldous Huxley and Lauryn Hill, two very different kind of poets, held a parallel in a sociological framework. Aldous Huxley predicted the current trend of today’s world’s infatuation with pharmacology and medication in the 1960’s. And Lauryn Hill explained the sentiments of a female living in a male dominated world, where her solo album Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was manifesto and political act for all females needing representation.
Then there was Tupac – the other kind of poet. A sentimental soul at the of pulls of his Ying and Yang for both monetary and social pressures; lured in by the bigger need of having to please those who controlled his financial destiny. His single parenting mother was a revolutionary, and his name was tied to a contractual agreement that depended on album sales, controversy, and influence over public ideals. Equivalent to a handpicked painter selected by royalty, Tupac was commissioned to portray a certain image, although it may not have been his own. However, the true genius of the poet was the ability to channel the character, evoking his emotion and energy through the rhythm and aggression of his words. Despite the image, however, it is Tupacs more conscious songs that resonate and have lasted history.
Historically, orators have not been considered nor labeled solely as poets but to say Malcolm X was not a poet is to deny the mans ability to influence and evoke emotion through words. In 1965 X was shot invariably because of his influence given his ability to persuade a crowd , and inform those ignorant to the occurrences of 20th century America. Representing The Nation of Islam he eloquently and simply described the climate of helplessness in black America with the statement, “We did not land on Plymouth rock. Plymouth rock landed on us.” As a Pan-Africanist he utilized his ability to shape and paint pictures using his power of words to help unite nations across the world in order to help and assist the place of minorities in Americans; and because of this, he was shot and killed. Malcom X, with his ability to describe the climate of a historical context, and strength by himself to move mountains and people, was shot to death, like many before, and many more to come.
And throughout history, words have been, and will always be, a revolutionary act. To speak up is in itself to be courageous. And facing oneself, his thoughts, and his situation is by itself a courageous feat. But that is the only way to destroy certainties, oppressions, and any situation that plagues the soul; for there is only one way to truly overcome a situation – as a unit and an individual – and that is to understand all its facets. For when we face our problems, we can then describe, and when we describe we can then overcome. But the only way for the poet to overcome is to face himself, his situation, and what holds him, and his people, back.
In conclusion, throughout time the face of the poet may change, however, his importance and vitality in civilizations will always be needed as a true representation for the people. Whether standing on a pedestal on a street corner as a religious representative in ancient Rome screaming of love, or entertaining millions of fans at The Barclay Center like on September 20th for SOURCE360 – the ones who tell the inner experience of those they represent will always hold a vital place in society, for without the poet there is no hope. There are few others willing to step outside the quota and truly represent their peoples needs and situations, inevitably causing isolation, leaving them open to criticism, on another side of a fence that usually watches the world stare back indifferently. By raising topics to subject most are afraid to even acknowledge , the poet gives light to what affects him so much that it manifests understanding for rhythms of his life and those around him. Poets will always be needed, whether we call them lyricists, activists, rappers, or writers. For the poet, as a revolutionary and artist, will always be needed, for he and his stories are martyred for his people.
– Hurtjohn (@Mr_Hurtado_)