Only poets will save us

The words are on the wall or they’re in his head.  These boys are restless.  They can’t stay in bed because they know their rhymes won’t be affectless.  He knows this baller life isn’t for him.  He knows he can’t keep hustlin’ until 4 in the mornin’.  They’re like J. W. Johnson with that free masonry – speaking up for those who are dyin’, showing those who refuse to see.  Supporters call them messiah, Jehovah, but they accept the titles somewhat reluctantly.  Two poets, two brains, two lives, two names: Gunnar from the Hillside in Cali and Shawn from the projects of Marcy.  Gunnar Kaufman in Paul Beatty’s The White Boy Shuffle transforms as he moves to the mean streets of West Los Angeles.  He finds his voice within his poetry, and his words move people to the point where they accept him as their messiah and are all willing to be martyrs to his words.  Shawn Carter is born into a music loving family in the Marcy Projects of Brooklyn, New York.  He sees a way to make his life better by hustling to bring in money for his single mom, but also discovers his voice in a poetry of his own – rap, and Shawn transforms into Jay-Z.  In his memoir Decoded, Jay-Z shows what his art means to him and the influence he has had on communities close to and separate from him.  Both Gunnar and Jay-Z rhyme as a form of art and expression to give the world a deeper look at their overlooked realities.

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