Sunday, December 15, 2019

Michael Eric Dyson

Michael Eric Dyson's new book is Jay-Z: Made in America.

From the transcript of his NPR interview with Steve Inskeep:

INSKEEP: Let me turn back to Jay-Z's lyrics and something that you say about him as a writer or I suppose I should say as a speaker because, as you point out, he doesn't write it down. You say he is Robert Frost with a Brooklyn accent.

DYSON: Yeah.

INSKEEP: Now, I thought about that statement, and at first, I thought those two figures are so different and their writing is so different that Michael Eric Dyson must just be telling me he's a really good poet. But then I thought about it some more. Is there something essentially American about both of those figures that connects them?

DYSON: Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village, though. He will not see me stopping here to watch the woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer to stop without a farmhouse near. Between the woods and a frozen lake, the darkest evening of the year.

God forgive me for my brash delivery, but I remember vividly what these streets did to me. Imagine me allowing you to nitpick at me, portray me like a pickany (ph).

And all the teachers couldn't reach me, and my mama couldn't beat me hard enough to match the pain of my pop not seeing me. So with that disdain in my membrane, got on my pimp game, blank the world, my defense came.

Now, the first two stanzas, Robert Frost. And Jay-Z's, you know, lyrics are from his "Black Album." And if my memory serves me correctly, I'm saying that from memory, so you all forgive me if I didn't get it all right. I see tremendous parallels - pace, rhythm, cadence, simplistic imagery that contains deeper thoughts underneath the water, underneath the skin, subcutaneous even, things that are mixed up and jabbing and stabbing that arrest us because the writers say it with such calm and such dignity. That's the parallel...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue