Some of the most creative rhyming among contemporary writers can be found in hip-hop and rap music, but it’s a guilty pleasure because of the misogyny, homophobia, and violence that the lyrics often glorify. A welcome exception is rapper Talib Kweli, who fits within the social protest tradition of slam poetry. His album The Beautiful Struggle is in my frequent playlist. He recently appeared on The Colbert Report to promote his new album, Gutter Rainbows. Enjoy this clip of him performing “Cold Rain”. Lyrics below courtesy of killerhiphop.com.
Lets try something new
It’s been a long time coming!
Let me try something brand new
Hey yo Ski!
What you ever do, man?
Yo, what we doing it for?
This is for all the day-trippers and the hipsters
Whores and the fashionistas
Spiritual leaders practicing all the laws of attraction
The teachers who read the passages from the Bhagavad Gita
That be bustin off Dalai Lama’s or flashing heaters
the last of the boosters
With the shooting, the thugging and all the booning and spooning
and all the crooning, and cooning and auto-tuning, alive
You be tellin, peddlin’ to consumers I’m helping them to see through it
get with this new movement,
Let’s move it!
Feel the cold rain
Still I’m standing right here
Even the winter summer days
Yeah I’m a product of Reaganomics
From the blocks where he rocking a feds like J Electronica
drop and make this a lock
if he promises where the heart is
whether Jesus or Mohammad
regardless of where the Mosque is (word)
They hope for the Apocalypse like a self-fulfilling prophecy
Tell me when do we stop it?
Do they ask you your religion before you rent an apartment?
Is the answer burning Korans
So that we can defend Islamics?
The end upon us with a hash tag, a trending topic
You take away the freedoms that we invite in the game
Then you disrespect the soldiers; you ask them to die in vain
In a desert praying for rain
The music’s like a drug, and they tend to take it to vein
It ain’t for the well-behaved
The soundtrack for when you’re great but its more for when you’ve felt afraid
More than your average rapper
So you sort of felt the way
The brain is like a cage, you a slave, that’s why they lovin’ you
This is the book that Eli that start with a K-W.
I do it for the trappers, other rappers
the Backpackers, the crackers
the n-ggas, the metal-packers
the victims of ghetto factories
I do it for the families, citizens of humanity
Emcee’s, endangered species like manatees
I do it for the future of my children!
They the hope for the hopeless
Karma approaches, we gon’ be food for a flock of vultures
The end of the World
Ain’t nothing left but the cockroaches
and the freedom fighters
We’re freedom writers like Bob Moses
the chosen, freedom writers like Voltaire
For my block, my borough, my hood, my city, my state, yeah
My obligation to my community is so clear!
yeah, we gotta save them, this opportunity so rare!
We do it so big over here that it’s no bare
To the punks, bitches, the chumps, the snitches, the sneak in the game
We let them live with all they’re weak and they’re lame
The bozo’s and joker’s, promoting when they’re speaking my name