Here is my recently written essay on Beloved. It takes a creative approach - bless.
“What it is to have no home in this place. To be set adrift from the one you knew. What it is to live at the edge of towns that cannot bear your company.”
- Toni Morrison (Nobel Lecture, 1993)
Morrison’s Beloved and Hip Hop / Holiness
Beloved is troublesome. It is a story of struggle, persistence, death, and rebirth. It is a legacy written in the fluids of the body. It is a story of stories. It combines the African elements of Celebration, the African-American
spirit of isolation, the universal Human Culture of hope, and the American aspiration of Freedom.
Hip Hop is troublesome. It is the Congo Square
of poets, preachers, revolutionaries, and poverty. It is the aftermath. Beloved’s child. It combines the Olatunji
drum rejoice, the smoked drawl of Gil-Scott Heron
, the universal Human Culture of protest, and the American aspiration of Equality
Toni Morrison’s work is thru this lens as well. It is a unique and unparalleled nature. Her work is said to infuse the multi-dimensional flavor of the Black experience. Her words are dark, tight, musty. Her rhythm is held in between praise and bop, attitude / beatitude, hip and hop.
Sethe rubbed and rubbed, pressing the work cloth and the stony curves that made up his knee. She hoped it calmed him as it did her. Like kneading bread in the half-light of the restaurant kitchen. Before the cook arrived when she stood in a space no wider than a bench is long, back behind the and to the left of the milk cans. Working dough. Working, working dough. Nothing better than that to start the day’s serious work of beating back the past.
Sethe is a character that deems her work holy. She is a slave to menial labor. However, she is one who takes the unacknowledged and transforms it into the sacred. The unconscious reader will fail to connect Sethe’s mission to sanctify her work. This passage frames Morrison’s own consecration, to comfort ‘those who sleep in the dust’, to bring beauty to a land where her own skin is said to be ungodly, unclean, and sadly animalistic. Sethe is the laborer-matriarch of a people, embodied through the metaphors of their collective condition. Sethe is given the power to hallow their existence as Black.
Black Eyed Peas
- Be Free
Oh my goodness, I know you feel the vibration
Across the globe no matter your location
Ain't no difficulty or complication
Just as long my niggas in the celebration
Celebrated the musical liberation
The Peas then demonstrated the demonstration
And you will feel the flush of relaxation
I'ma wax these and then get heavy rotation
I got you in bliss and ain't no aggravation
When you bump us, we bring the stimulation
So hurry up and get your daily fixation
But make sure that it's handled, it's a moderation
One dose should bring you to a limitation
So put your back into it, baby, that's right, huh
I'm about to plug in some dedication
This goes out to my brothers and my coalition
Hip Hop is a force that proclaims culture supreme. It is a slave to monetary rewards but slowly draws back to its soul. The soul of hip-hop is aware of the present struggle. Consciousness in Hip Hop is embodied through the organic and deeply rooted power of poetry and drum. Toni Morrison, with her rhythm and verse, agrees with this African quality to Blacks Arts. Hip Hop and Beloved unite in their efforts to work their history of struggle into creative expression. Hip Hop unites Morrison in beating back the past, much like Sethe does with kneading her dough.
To go back to the original hunger was impossible
Luckily for Denver, looking was food enough to
last. But to be looked at in turn was beyond
appetite; it was breaking through her own skin to
a place where hunger hadn’t been discovered. It didn’t
have to happen often, because Beloved seldom looked
looked right at her, or when she did, Denver could
tell her own face was just the place those eyes stopped
while the mind behind it walked on.
It is reasonably accurate to assume that Beloved is a spiritual entity. She represents the African-American identity. She translates the mystery of Blackness into a person. In a sense, Toni Morrison assists her White
readers in understanding the intangible essence of Blackness by constructing the metaphor of Beloved. This poetic device ironically transforms this novel from a story into an education, a testament to a people that can be presented as a cross-cultural adventure as well, showing the tangible aspects of Black humanity to a non-black audience. Morrison’s Beloved, in this sense, parallels the mission of Hip Hop.
White people purchase approximately seventy-five percent of hip-hop albums bought in this country. Hip-Hop music is the living bridge between White and Black America. It brings the Black, Hispanic, and Immigrant population’s identity to those who live outside it’s realm. Hip-Hop music is a living testament to cultural relations. It has progressed as American Culture moved, walking the streets of Newark and Morrissania
, and now rolling along the streets of Bridgeport
and Trumbull. It is Black and it is urban, but it is also a collective cry for help. Hip Hop never has proclaimed its task, but one knows Hip-Hop is the elaborate voice of a united mission to improve everyone’s lot in life.
DJ Common Sense
- The 6th Sense
I start thinking, how many souls hip-hop has affected
How many dead folks this art resurrected
How many nations this culture connected
Who am I to judge one's perspective?
Though some of that shit y'all pop true it, I ain't relating
If I don't like it, I don't like it, that don't mean that I'm hating
I just want to innovate and stimulate minds
Travel the world and penetrate the times
Escape through rhythms in search of peace and wisdom
Raps are smoke signals letting the streets know I'm with 'em
For now I appreciate this moment in time
Ball players and actors be knowing my rhymes
, it's like...
Beloved is this exact declaration. It pulls Blackness out
from under the shame and desecration of White America and raises it into the privilege of faith and consecration. Fifteen years after Beloved was published, the youth continue to love its mission to resurrect the beautiful and poetic figure of the African American spirit.
Beloved reminds the African American
of the African American,
the Native American
of the Native American,
the European American
of the European American,
the Asian American
of the Asian American...
The Human Race is reminded of itself.
“Space ain't man's final frontier. Man's final frontier is the soul,
guided by someone more powerful than any human being
Someone felt but never seen. You will be surprised of what resides
in your insides...” - Arrested Development