Rap on

A professor at the University of Minnesota, Pate turns his attention to the relationship between the artful rhyming that goes into rap lyrics and the African-American poetic tradition. Subtitled The Poetry of Rap, Pate stresses the commonalities of English-language poetry in the African-American tradition and rap, starting with comparisons of both style and content between such pieces as KRS-One’s “Who Protects Us From You?” and Langston Hughes’ “Who But the Lord?” But he doesn’t stop there; what Pate has accomplished here is nothing less than an aesthetic standard for rap as poetry, which he tests against various examples of the rap genre. It’s a critical theory that explains a difference that can be easily heard, as in for instance, Young MC’s “Bust a Move” (pop pabulum) and Public Enemy’s “Can’t Truss It,” which is arguably art. This is a groundbreaking work, necessary for connoisseurs of both poetry and rap music.