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ProVerb

This post comes from listening to “Writer’s Club“— a track done by ProVerb, one of South Africa’s top emcees. It occurred me that rappers are in a far better position to understand the writer’s hustle than novelists.

For one thing, only a novelist would say something like: “I am not my work. Once the work is out of my hands, it leads a life of its own.”  For the rapper, there is enormous pressure to live the truth of his art, to be his art. His word is scripture. He lives by it and defends it.

The rapper’s fans are hungrier, less gracious, but more loyal. The novelist’s fans are all armchair philosophers, niggling over details.

 It’s not that novelists don’t hustle, but rappers go really hard. Novelists act like divas, sensitive, and self-conscious. Rappers are soldiers.

Maybe because they work with sound, and with their bodies (as performers), rappers can feel and touch and sculpt words in a way that makes words not only come to life but capable of doing serious and immediate damage.

The rapper lives the truth of Fela’s words, “music is the weapon,” in a way that the novelist can’t.

Every writer should listen to “Writer’s Club.”  ProVerbs gets it. He speaks about the writing life in way that few novelists could ever imagine.

He tries to think about what integrity has to do with writing, what it means to be true to oneself and the art and still connect with fans and readers. What are the risks of being different, choosing not to follow the beaten path, to live beyond the hype? Is using your writing to show the world the light really an outdated thing? After all, the reason the writer can still save the world is because he, more that anyone else, knows what it means to be in need of salvation.

The track is a war cry, calling on the writer to fight the good fight and never lose sight of what the struggle is truly about — inspiring a generation.

But I sense, in this call to battle, a touch of melancholy, a feeling that something is lost or is slipping way — perhaps the figure of the Great Writer?

Of course, there’s the moment in the refrain where he welcomes (in the video he holds out a pen) the person he’s addressing, an aspiring writer, a lost writer, a dead writer perhaps, to join the Writer’s Club.

“Writer’s Club” is a meditation, a manifesto, an essay, a love letter to the writer’s hustle.

Okay, let’s watch the video.

Click HERE for lyrics.

Post Image: Via Crossmakere

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

One Response to “Rappers are Writers, No? | S. African Rapper Schools Us on the Writer’s Hustle” Subscribe

  1. Frank 2014/08/15 at 08:53 #

    So true. Scribbling a few verses in a studio with friends about the latest thang is much more worthy than upending one’s life and spending solitary years paring it down to truth.

    Yes. Rappers and bloggers, sorry, writers, are indeed the real artists.

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