50 Cent is playing violin,
in Kentucky, summer of 1865.
He’s in the middle of a Rebel’s revival, floor stomping,
bearded and hollering, his fingers a spider leg choir.
They’re all drunk on his vitamin water, sweaty hands in gang signs;
the room is so dark, none of them notice he’s black.
Lil Kim is in labor, 96 hours and counting,
her mouth devoid of verses,
her breasts unaware of the presence of gravity.
She is hollering in an abandoned shack.
Mary J. is trying to assist, failing.
The baby is too sexy to come out.
Eminem is standing upright on a speeding horse,
screaming he doesn’t give a fuck, invisible windows down,
inner system up. He’s broken his last gold record in half,
using the jagged edges to free the gangsta from his wrists,
drive-by spraying a Lil Wayne lynch mob.
50 Cent doesn’t know why he has a violin,
can’t explain his devotion and closed eyes,
but the sound carries him upward, eclipsing the speed of marijuana,
to the apparition of Leadbelly free styling at gunpoint.
He’s rapping about the night Robert Johnson legalized the devil,
swallowing poisoned whiskey and Benjamin’s Hennessy,
50 flies on to see Big Boi and Andre jamming with an 808 chain gang,
hammers pounding tracks on beat,
the spectre of Rosa Parks still sending them the finger.
Dr. Dre is burying his wife,
the soil black as asphalt, smelling like the last breath of Bessie Smith.
Dr. Dre is crying, but he’s so smooth his shaking shoulders disguise as krumpin’,
face glistening with the aftermath of funk.
50 is grieving for the death of crunk, as Lil Jon discovers he’s happier slaving in the house,
every order from the ‘massa’ answered by a what or okay,
in the basement is Kanye, in hiding at an abolitionist’s house and can’t help
sampling the spirituals in his memory, and all the while,
Lil Kim’s baby refuses to come out.
I’m trying to tell you what hip hop means to me.
This is how it sounds in my head,
when they forget to inject auto tune in our screams,
when my people believe their skin tone is only as dark as their play list,
when they’d laugh at the very thought of 50 Cent playing violin.
But they’re not seeing John Legend, breaking his fingers under the teachings
of Scott Joplin; Method Man building a djembe out of his own shed skin.
That chain gang’s singing Timbaland to keep on beat,
pounding those tracks ’til that train comes, barreling from the underground:
Howling Wolf smoking a blunt in the front car,
dodging Eminem’s spray,
roaring past that lynch mob, staring in horror…
’cause Lil Wayne
just outdid Jesus, coming back to life
still dangling from the tree.
He’s dropping verses he borrowed from Johnny Cash and Cain,
his gold teeth blinding the mob’s eyes;
they fall to their knees in praise of the heaven they’d been afraid to believe,
and still there is 50, playing so religious he doesn’t notice his own transmuting,
nine bullet wounds transfiguring,
sealed holes re-opening, Tupac stigmata.
Lil Kim is caught between visions of Bathsheba and Mary,
her hip bone thicker than thugs in harmony.
That violin is the acoustic rage of Public Enemy,
stomping down the snake head of doubt,
Lil Kim’s praying to the oncoming train,
her baby won’t come out