When I was in high school, we analyzed Beatle lyrics in Literary Club. I remember comparing “Eleanor Rigby” to “Richard Cory”: Lives of quiet desperation. Now teachers are getting kids to write wholesome hip hop. Scholastic is putting out kids’ books by rappers. According to the Philly Inquirer, some pro-social songs are popular.
I know I can. (I know I can.)
Be what I wanna be. (Be what I wanna be.)
If I work hard at it. (If I work hard at it.)
I’ll be where I want to be. (I’ll be where I wanna be.)
That’s from rapper Nas’ latest single, “I Can.” The infectious hook, sampled from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, is No. 9 on Billboard’s rhythm-and-blues air-play charts. The lyrics tell school-age children to pick their friends wisely and to take their time growing up.
Sampled from Beethoven’s Fifth. Hmmm. I wonder if Nas is a Gramscian.