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from Rapconteur by Baba Brinkman



In Kalevala the main man's name was Väinämöinen
His fame was growing in the creation of strange noises
He trained his voice mainly for the sake of enjoyment
And sang poignant verses without gainful employment
Väinämöinen could spin a phrase in a way that venerates
The first generation of men, in a wave
Of inspiration that creates a sense of inner faith
In the Finnish nation in the days when this sinful age
Of impatient whims begins to blaze like a burning house
And just like "murder will out", his verbal clout
Was heard about through word of mouth
From up North down to dirty South

Now the young Joukahainen heard of Väinämöinen's fame
And became jealous, 'cause he was newly trained in
The same verbal games, and really, who could blame him?
The fire of youth burned like a blue flame in Joukahainen
Who decided to arrange a duel to attain an
Even greater name than Väinämöinen, who was ancient
Joukahainen's parents rebuked and forbade him
To leave, but their pleas didn't do much to faze him
Joukahainen amazed them and brazenly boasted
"I know you both say that it's crazy and hopeless
But hey, I'm not afraid to get roasted
In this day and age the best way to get noticed
Is to take the most famous poet's name and expose it
As lame; Väinämöinen's a vain, inflated vocalist
So I'll take his inflated vocal vein and explode it
And someday I'll be praised, celebrated and toasted"

And without wasting a moment, Joukahainen departed
For Kalevala, the home of Väinämöinen, his target
And, far from feint-hearted, for three days he charted
His way at a hard pace and came to the unguarded
Gates of the garden of Kalevala at last
But he wasn’t paying attention to the road, and he crashed
Into Väinämöinen, who was traveling on the same path
Like two locomotives head to head on train tracks

Before Joukahainen even had his strength back
Väinämöinen blasted him and gave him flack
And asked him for his name and to explain the crash
And he answered plain, "I'm the young Joukahainen
And I heard there's a vacant-headed, gum-toothed vagrant
With a reputation here, so I've come to defame him"

Väinämöinen remained cool in the face of these rude statements
Like a true statesman, and smoothly replied
"I'm in no mood to be crucified
For the sake of stupid pride, boy, so move aside"
But Joukahainen viewed this a shrewdly disguised
Attempt to neutralize his youthful stride
And he refused to buy it: "Why should I move aside?
I suggest we duel to decide who can best utilize
Words, with verses verbally beautified
To decide the dispute, and let the loser move aside"
Väinämöinen sighed, "'Verbally beautified?'
You certain deserve to be verbally brutalized
Since you devised this war of words
To satisfy your thirst to divide orators
For sport; all right, fine, you're first
Let’s see what you got”

Joukahainen's verse went like this: "My knowledge is deep
I polish speech to demolish the weak
When I listen to politicians' policies I fall asleep
All in all I'd rather follow an ecologist's lead
And listen to the swishin' of fish in the lawless seas
My vision is flawless, even in the bottomless breach
I see what the walrus sees, and feed on mollusc meat
In the halls of seaweed the narwhal acknowledges me
I perceive the raw qualities of all I can see
From the beak of the bald eagle at the peak of the tallest tree
To the niche of the swallow that swallows the smallest seed
It all follows the pull of the dog-eat-dog creed
And if you can not compete then you're obsolete
So why not concede defeat and leave Kalevala to me?"

Väinämöinen scoffed, "These are all falsities
If your 'knowledge is deep' then it's hollow indeed
All I see is a wallow of bottomless greed
That colours your speech like a black shadow
As your words crash and rattle; you asked for this battle
So get off the path if that's the last of your babble"
But Joukahainen hadn't traveled this far to get dismissed
And his next verse reflected his desperate recklessness

He said, "I know you're locally respected – great
But it doesn't take much to see you're just a fake
Like snow, I'm an avalanche; you're just a flake
You get money like a church: in a collection plate
I'm destined to get paid, while you're destined to beg
Like a drug-addicted veteran with a prosthetic leg
Allow me to demonstrate why youth is better than age
I collect wages while your memories fade
Intellectually I gaze on unlimited space
While you're afraid and inhibited; you live in a cave
This place is too big for you; it's a pitiful waste
You should just give it away and start diggin' a grave"

In the face of this insolent rage, Väinämöinen's
Patience and poise turned to plain annoyance
He said, "Trust me boy, your lust for fame is poison
What's the point of making poems when you can't enjoy them?
And what's the point of entertaining when you've got the lame voice
Of a teenaged boy, who came to join in
The game just to make noise and be a pain, showing an
Absolute disdain for the ancients, going in
The face of their ways and the dues paid and owing them?"
Now, Joukahainen was growing impatient and sour
From humiliation and shame, 'cause he'd wasted his power
And been laid naked in the space of an hour
So he tried to save face with the grace of a coward
"Okay, I don't have the tricks to match wits with a lord
So I guess I'll just have to ask my fists for support
And strike a dissonant chord with the tip of a sword!
Besides, violence is a more difficult sport
So keep your piss-poor lyrics 'cause now this is a war!"

But Väinämöinen had heard this before, and in spite
Of his magnanimous nature he couldn't stand to bite
His tongue, or dirty his hands in a fight
So his adrenaline ran, and he began to recite
Lu-e-kamme kasi katehen
Sormet sormien lomahan
And the land was transformed; the lake covered with waves
Rocks cut away from cliffs as they started to break
The sound made the ground beneath shudder and shake
And the mountains rumbled, as if under the plates
Lay a powerful thundercloud with a stomachache
Joukahainen was afraid and he tried to run away
But he suddenly felt a heavy weight on his legs
And in less than a minute a lake fit for drinking
Became a gray swamp with dead fish in it, stinking
And in the end when Väinämöinen was finished singing
Joukahainen found himself stuck in it, sinking

Then his courage began shrinking and caving in
And he started whimpering, thinking of nothing but saving his skin
As arrogant and brave as he'd been to begin with
Joukahainen now found he had to placate his nemesis
Since he was in a quick-mud pit with limited
Options; the stuff was too thick to swim in it
He said, "I may have been a bit of a rude bastard
Too fast to challenge the skills of a true master
But you have to forgive me; I was enthusiastic
But all I wanted to do was be like you, that's it
Please don't let drown in this nasty ooze casket!"

And Väinämöinen laughed, "Ooh, that's too bad kid
But you have to admit, you did ask for it
And now you're desperate, beggin' me to set you free
I guess my question is, what's in it for me?"
And Joukahainen started offering up guns and tools
Horses and mules, plots of land, money and jewels
As his body sank deeper under the mud of the pool
But Väinämöinen wasn't moved by these petty concessions
'Cause he never had any use for pretty new possessions
And Joukahainen knew he would never get assistance
Unless he was ready to give something really precious
As he felt the wet caresses of swamp water
On his neck, with his last breath he made a strong offer

He said, "My father was blessed with one daughter
And he taught her to cook and clean and do chores
And I promise you, if you want her, she's yours
I'm sure she'd rather marry you than see me a corpse
Just get me out of this horrid green porridge!"
And Väinämöinen smiled, utterly delighted
And recited a verse, and Joukahainen glided out of the swamp
And alighted on the shore, and Väinämöinen warmly invited
Him to visit, once he and the boy's sister were united

Joukahainen returned home, ashamed and embarrassed
And announced to his parents his sister's arranged marriage
And his sister complained in badly-strained spirits
Like, "Väinämöinen was old and had a strange appearance"
But Joukahainen's mother just congratulated her
For finding a man greater than the saps who dated her
She said, "Väinämöinen is famous and has a way with words
And besides, look at your father and I, we made it work"
But Joukahainen’s sister did not marry Väinämöinen
She turned into a fish, but that’s another story


from Rapconteur, released July 15, 2010


all rights reserved



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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