Monday, May 22, 2017

Vivid Dreams and Hard Work | The Jose Vilson

Vivid Dreams and Hard Work | The Jose Vilson:

Vivid Dreams and Hard Work

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“My dreams is vivid, work hard to live it …” – Christopher “Biggie” Wallace on Shaq’s “You Can’t Stop The Reign”
My kids call Biggie old school. That floors me every time I hear it. I’ve heard that said for the last 12 years. Every so often, I catch myself rhyming a Biggie lyric aloud to them, which always astonishes them. I get nasal right around “You heard of us, the murderous, most shady …” while the horns get blaring underneath. The young eyeballs turn to me, but I barely notice because I’m simultaneously keeping up with Mr. Wallace and bleeping out his curses. I don’t use the b-word; he does. I’m not better than him. I exhale after the verse is over and wait for a student to put me onto something they’d like to karaoke. Upon request, I might do another depending on how far back they’d like to go. They’re playing the hype people, finishing off every line.
It’s those non-academic moments that keep me doing the arduous work of making the seemingly irrelevant (to them) doable and accessible.
When I was their age, I admired the boom-bap in Biggie’s intonations, the authority with which he grabbed the mic. Contrary to the sublime raps of today, it seemed like my favorite rappers of yesteryear had every intention of demolishing equipment with their voices. He didn’t allow for the beat to take over his voice. There was little symbiosis. He gave us two options: either listen to him on this beat or don’t listen at all. While I enjoy Biggie’s discography, my students point to songs like “Suicidal Thoughts” and “Juicy” in a way I only understood recently.
For a multitude of reasons, they look at Ready To Die as a direct ancestor to the everyman raps of Future, Drake, and J. Cole. It’s weird. 
What’s more, Biggie’s most memorable line starts with “Yeah, this album is dedicated to all the teachers who told me I’d never amount to nothin’.” As a straight-A student, I needed that sonic chip on my shoulder in the public and private schools I attended. As a teacher, I genuflected to the sentiment, especially when it was expressed less eloquently by some of my Vivid Dreams and Hard Work | The Jose Vilson:
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