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from Lit​-​Hop by Baba Brinkman



In the beginning I was just a kid, listenin’ to Slick Rick
Maestro Fresh Wes, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
Rewrite the lyrics and recite ‘em to my best friends
But I was just a copycat and this was just a hobby that
Would probably pass after I’d exhausted all my sloppy raps
And got the laughs I was after, typical little bastard
Privileged middle-class mischievous little rascal
With a ticket to sit in the back row at a rap show
I listened to Fat Joe, Method Man, and B. I. G.
And imagined livin’ as a V. I. P.
Though I didn’t have a plan, just a fantasy
But I could still pass exams with ease and plant trees
To get cash for books, tuition fees, and rap CDs
And I had a chance to read classic Greek tragedies
I’ve always been addicted to words
So I just immersed myself in English Literature
But I was immature, and these were fickle times
Between classes I would listen to rhymes and find
My lips whispering lines as if in the background
Then at nineteen I wrote my first original rap down

I go back to the Genesis Eden Garden
When I was a teen in love with freestylin’
That’s when I learned techniques for rhymin’
And started redesignin’

I can still feel that prickle of initial excitement
I figured, “It’s official y’all; this is enlightenment!”
I pictured myself cypherin’ with the likes of Big Pun
Whippin’ punks into submission with a flip of the tongue
I did it for fun; I was ambitious and irreverent
I figured I was clever enough to get the better
Of any competitor, ‘cause I was verbally first rate
My early verses were based on discursive wordplay
With no breaks, no separated parts, no bars, no hooks
Just page after page past the margins of notebooks
So far so good; I built my skills gradually
And kept on track with the bachelor’s degree
Actually, I considered droppin’ out to get respect
But I figured more options would mean less regrets
And besides, some rappers were comin’ differently
I discovered Blackalicious and Talib Kweli
MCs who could rip the beat descriptively
And then in my second season I had this epiphany
“Rap is poetry!” and ever since I’ve represented it
Openly through my position as an academic
Get It?

I go back to the Genesis Eden Garden
When I was a teen in love with freestylin’
That’s when I learned techniques for rhymin’
And started redesignin’

Next semester I convinced my teachers
That hip-hop lyrics would be my thesis research
I thought I would be the first to study it in depth
Reality check; the library index
Already had a long list of hip-hop scholarship
Steps that I followed in; David Foster Wallace and
Tricia Rose and Brian Cross got acknowledgments
And props; they taught me hip-hop history
And I started to approach this culture realistically
And the next step for me in this MC trajectory
Was for me to freestyle obsessively
On road trips I was a motor-mouth motorist
I learned to flow sick on a solo tip
Rockin’ Dr. Dre beats – Xxplosive
I was blowin’ doors open; people started listenin’
Hip-hop for me was a form of discipline
Born Again on the discman, studyin’ flows
Whadaya know? When I was just twenty years old
I hit the tracks runnin’ my mouth like a bloody nose
And took my first steps down this long dusty road

I get lethargic and reminisce
In the darkness return to the days
When I learned to spit marvelous
And give props to those who started this
HipHop, I love being part of this


from Lit​-​Hop, released October 6, 2006


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Baba Brinkman New York, New York

Science rapper and inventor of several novel hip-hop variants. Canadian transplant to New York. Pathological optimist.

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