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Monday, October 2, 2017

Dear Hannah: LEarning (Rhyme-In-Time)

Dear Hannah,

I aspire to be a five-tool+ "standup storyteller" (AKA "griot") - poet, rapper, singer, teacher, orator, writer, producer, director.

I am still learning how to use my tools, but I am getting there.

LEarn to use your gifts.



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"LEarning (Rhyme-In-Time)"
By Derrick Brown

Our greatest entertainers have "five tools".

This variety is what makes their performances dynamic and memorable.

Comedian Tracy Morgan considers Eddie Murphy as his hero and role model.

Morgan taught me that Eddie is unique because he has five comedic tools: stand-up, impressions, characters, singing, and acting.

I remember "Raw" 30 years after its release.

I remember his "Elvis" impression.

I remember all the characters from "Coming to America" and "The Nutty Professor".

I remember "Party All The Time".

Eddie could sing, y'all.

I remember "Boomerang".

Chance The Rapper is a five-tool emcee: rapper, singer, preacher, dancer, and conductor.


Yes, indeed.

Chance knows who he is.

He is very comfortable in his own skin.

He understands music.

He knows what he needs from the band.

He knows what everybody is supposed to be doing.

He leads them while he is on stage.

Like James Brown.

Like Kirk Franklin.

I read that Kirk is one of his influences, and I can see it on stage.

Stone Mountain's own Donald Glover (AKA "Childish Gambino") is a five-tool+ talent - writer, producer, director, singer, rapper, actor.

Check out old episodes of "Community".

He steals a lot of scenes.

I read that the show's writers started scripting him doing something improvisational and hilarious.

I aspire to be a five-tool+ "standup storyteller" (AKA "griot") - poet, rapper, singer, teacher, orator, writer, producer, director.

I am still learning how to use my tools, but I am getting there.

But I digress.

Today I want to focus on building language skills to enhance self-expression to beautiful, masterful levels.

Language is the key to self-identity and self-expression - which are the keys to the creation of beauty - which is what we call art.

Language is a system of communicating through sounds and symbols.

Self-identity is "who you are" ... how you describe yourself.

Self-expression is how you relate "who you are" to your audience.

Life is a story.

We speak life through our stories.

Hip-hop and spoken word are influential in our culture (really in many cultures) because they are used to tell our stories in a beautiful way.

Our stories become even more beautiful - and even more powerful - when we tell them with a command of language ... and a command of ourselves (self-control).

This command of language allows us to convey strong identities that bring forth strong expressions.

People feel that strength.

One strong verse generates the influence of 1000 sermons ... with power, passion, precision, popularity, prophecy, peril, style, and swag.

Anyway, I have this project called "Rhyme-In-Time".

It is an activity that I use to help me craft and refine song lyrics.

It is powered by a large list of word groups - 2 or more words per group - that rhyme in special ways.

Some are what I call "double rhymes".

These words rhyme phonetically (they end in similar sounds), but they also rhyme thematically (they relate as concepts).

For example, "nameless" and "shameless" comes to mind.

"Ruthless", "couthless", and "toothless" also comes to mind.

Some of the words are "homophones" - they sound the same, but are spelled differenly, and have different meanings that can still be easily connected.

For example, "so", "sew", and "sow".

When I need a clever lyric, and my regular dictionary and rhyming dictionary are not doing the job, I go to "Rhyme-In-Time".

It never fails me.

Let's say I am writing dialogue for a play, and the scene is a tense school board meeting.

I am giving the first public comment before the official meeting starts, and I want to let the public know that there is an issue with a board member that will soon be brought to light - but I'm not that light.

I'm just tryin' to let you know what's comin' - like a soothsayer (or a truthsayer).

So I grab my "nameless" and "shameless" pair ...

Roll scene ...

"Madame chairman, our distinguished board, and guests ... we have a problem. A problem of both protocol and practice perpetrated by one entrusted to uphold the public's faith. I am not here to expose that individual. They shall remain nameless tonight, but will not remain shameless for long."

Or, picture this one ... I am trying to relate how Black people have performed a legacy of back-breaking (often involuntary) work ... and how it has allowed us to recognize that opportunities are often disguised as work.

So I break 'em off with a "so - sew - sow" verse ...

"had to cut and mow
had to stitch and sew
for Mr. So-and-So
so we could reap and sow"

Now, these groups don't always have to be used as rhymes, don't have to be used in any particular order, and multiple groups can be used together.

Let's try "vain" and "vein" with "reign", "sane", and "feign" ...

How about ...

"When I feign sane
confusion reigns
vanity and foolish pride
run through my veins."

OK - that still rhymes, but note how I used "vain" as "vanity" to maintain my rhythm and flow.

That's how I use "Rhyme-In-Time".

So what's next?

I want to use "Rhyme-In-Time" as the basis for a concept where "Def Poetry Jam" meets "Hamilton" meets "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" meets "The BET Awards Cypher".

Peep this ...

"DJ in the back
stacks of tracks
one man, one mic
spittin facts
stories to engage
the young, the old
improvised yet devised
bought and sold."

I am tempted to translate this - but if you get it, you get it.

This is "way down the road" (as they say), but we will get there by gettin' in the lab and cookin' up somethin', and by vibin' with live audiences ...

in both cases I will experiment with word groups combined with people and events from our heritage, and even ideas that can enhance our future.

Not sure where it all ends up, but I wanted to document today that I am gonna give it some serious attention, work it out, and who knows?

'Cause where the focus goes, the power flows.


About Derrick Brown (Principal Consultant)

I am Keisha's husband, and Hannah's father.

My *other* passion is empowering people via methods that balance skill & will, analysis & synthesis, ideas & execution, and activity & achievement.

I am the product of my mentoring relationships, peacemaking (and peacekeeping), and problem-solving ability.

I am a publisher, filmmaker, executive coach & registered mediator with engineering degrees from Clemson and Georgia Tech.

My education began when I finished school.

After school, I enrolled in a lifelong curriculum that includes the following classes ...

  • ministry (serving people)
  • entrepreneurship (developing solutions that serve people)
  • stewardship (taking care of relationships, possessions, talents, body, mind, and time)
  • literacy (reading & writing skills)
  • numeracy (math skills)
  • language (communication skills)
  • self-expression (sharing "who you are")
  • self-identity (knowing "who you are")
  • analysis & synthesis (solving problems & sharing solutions)

KnowledgeBase is a ministry that has evolved from wisdom earned through lessons learned.

I want to share this wisdom to build teams of "triple threat" fellows - mentors, mediators, and problem solvers.

We will collaborate in simple, powerful ways that allow us to help people.

I now know that power is work done efficiently (with wise and skillful use of resources, interests, communication, and expertise).

Copyright © 2017 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.

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