Aicha’s Bibliotheek: Language of Violence

dispobl heroes of hiphopklein

Mijn afstudeerscriptie, inmiddels eeuwen geleden, schreef ik over rapmuziek. Aanvankelijk wilde ik me met mijn onderzoek op Malcolm X richten, maar door een samenloop van omstandigheden, besloot ik me verder te verdiepen in de rapmuziek. In die tijd, jaren negentig, was die nog omstreden en politiek zeer relevant; door over de historische wortels van de muziek te schrijven en de politieke en maatschappelijke rol te duiden, kon ik bovendien alsnog iets kwijt over Malcolm X.

Hoewel de muziek, zeker in de jaren tachtig en negentig, weggezet werd als oppervlakkig, gewelddadig en als een slechte invloed op de jeugd (politici als Tipper Gore -vrouw van- en Rush Limbaugh waren daar onder andere fanatiek in), was het, zeker wat mij betreft, raps gouden tijd met harde, maatschappijkritische teksten die werelden openden die je alleen van de clichébeelden op televisie kende. Stemmen die tot dan genegeerd werden door de goegemeente, eisten hun plek op. Rauw, compromisloos, maar ook vol empathie naar de eigen gemeenschap.

Een van de teksten die me altijd is bijgebleven, is Language of Violence van The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy van Michael Franti die later Spearhead oprichtte.

Het is een krachtig pleidooi tegen een samenleving die de vicieuze cirkel van gewelddadigheid in stand houdt. Slachtoffers worden dader worden slachtoffer.

Er valt nog heel veel meer te schrijven over dit nummer en andere rapklassiekers en artiesten, en misschien doe ik dat de komende tijd ook wel. Maar voor nu laat ik Language of Violence voor zich spreken.

The first day of school was always the hardest
The first day of school, the hallways the darkest

Like a gauntlet
The voices haunted
Walking in with his thin skin lowered chin
He knew the names that they would taunt him with

Fagot sissy punk queen queer
Although he’d never had sex in his 15 years
And when they harassed him, it was for a reason
And when they provoked him, it became open season

For the fox and the hunter, the sparks and the thunder
That pushed the boy under, then pillage and plunder
It kind of makes you wonder
How one can hurt another

But dehumanizing the victim makes things simpler
It’s like breathing with a respirator
It eases the conscience of even the most conscious
And calculating violator

Words can reduce a person to an object
Something more easy to hate
An inanimate entity, completely disposable
No problem to obliterate

But death is the silence
In this language of violence
Death is the silence
But death is the silence
In this cycle of violence
Death is the silence

It’s tough to be young, the young long to be tougher
When we pick on someone else it might make us feel rougher
Abused by their fathers but was at home though
So to prove to each other that they were not homos

The exclamation of the phobic fury
Executioner, a judge and jury
The mob mentality, individuality was nowhere
Dignity forgotten at the bottom of a dumb
Old dare and a numb cold stare

On the way home it was back to name calling
Ten against one they had his back up against the wall and
They reveled in their laughter as they surrounded him
But it wasn’t a game when they up jumped and grounded him

They picked up their bats with their muscles straining
And they decided they were gonna beat this fella’s brain in
With an awful, powerful, showerful, an hour full of violence
Inflict the strictest brutality and dominance

They didn’t hear him screaming, they didn’t hear him pleading
They ran like cowards and left the boy bleeding
In a pool of red ’til all tears were shed
And his eyes quietly slid into the back of his head
Dead

(…)

You won’t see the face ’til the eyelids drop
You won’t hear the screaming until it stops
The boy’s parents were gone and his grandmother had raised him
She was mad, she had no form of retaliation

The pack didn’t have to worry about being on a hit list
But the thing they never thought about was that there was a witness
To this senseless crime, right place wrong time
Tried as an adult one of them was gonna do hard time

The first day of prison was always the hardest
The first day of prison, the hallways the darkest

Like a gauntlet
The voices haunted
Fagot, sissy, punk, queen, queer
Words he used before had a new meaning in here

As a group of men in front of him came near
For the first time in his life the young bully felt fear
He’d never been on this side of the name calling
Five against one they had his back up against the wall and

He had never questioned his own sexuality
But this group of men didn’t hesitate in their reality
With an awful, powerful, showerful, an hour full of violence
Inflict the strictest brutality and dominance

They didn’t hear him screaming
They didn’t hear him pleading
They took what they wanted and then left him bleeding in the corner
The giant reduced to Jack Horner

But dehumanizing the victim makes things simpler
It’s like breathing with a respirator
It eases the conscience of even the most conscious
And calculating violator

The power of words, don’t take it for granted
When you hear a man ranting
Don’t just read the lips, be more sublime than this
Put everything in context

Is this a tale of rough justice
In a land where there’s no justice at all?
Who is really the victim
Or are we all the cause and victim of it all?
(…)

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