A case for adding rap to the poetry canon?
Rapper Jay-Z’s book, Decoded, hit shelves this fall and quickly became big news. It’s currently No. 6 on the New York Times best sellers list; Oprah included it among her wildly viewed “ultimate favorite things”; Jay-Z appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote it, and even The New Yorker has been commenting on its popularity and merit.
Kelefa Sanneh’s article, “Word: Jay-Z’s Decoded and the Language of Hip-Hop” appeared in the December 6 issue of The New Yorker, makes a case for why rap, in general, and Jay-Z’s lyrics, in particular, shouldn’t be discredited as less than true poetry.
Sanneh writes: “Throughout ‘Decoded,’ Jay-Z offers readers a large dose of hermeneutics and a small dose of biography, in keeping with his deserved reputation for brilliance and chilliness…. The Jay-Z of ‘Decoded’ is engaging; the Jay-Z of his albums is irresistible. The difference has something to do with his odd, perpetually adolescent-sounding voice, and a lot to do with his sophisticated sense of rhythm. Sure, he’s a poet—and, while we’re at it, a singer and percussionist, too. But why should any of these titles be more impressive than “rapper”?”
Read the entire article here and let us know what you think!