Sunday, August 31, 2008

Alphabet Slaughter: oulipo rap song

Formally constrained rap song by the rapper, Papoose. Each "verse" is entirely alliterative, beginning with the letters of the alphabet in sequence. Is this some kind of "rapoulipo?"

"The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself of the chains that shackle the spirit... the arbitrariness of the constraint only serves to obtain precision of execution."
Igor Stravinsky


Alessandro Porco said...

Papoose isn't the only one doing this sort of experimenting with form in hip hop. You should also check out the earlier -- and far better -- attempt at the same thing by Blackalicious, called "Alphabet Aerobics" (it's available on youtube as well).

gary barwin said...


Thanks for the recommendation. I also strayed over to your blog and read your comments about Oulipo. And yes, I agree, though I was joking about Rapoulipo (Hip Hopoulipo?), there is a danger of new movements colonizing older forms or other traditions. Just because you invented sliced bread, doesn't mean that you can claim that every other kind of slice is part of your invention. (Take my golf swing, for example.) But there's a whole power politics going on in that approach. Though just for the record, I invented the letter 'e' -- before that true expression was just a pipdram.

Rap obviously is a play with constraint by its very definition: metricality, rhyme, etc. are constraints. But these are many thousands of years old traditions. (But not Paleoulipo...when all you have is Oulipo, everything looks like a constraint). My favourite popular music "Oulipo" is Weird Al's marvellous palindromic version of Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues.