“I got insect thoughts”

from Digable Planets’ “Black Ego.”

Yesterday, I wrote my first rap/poem.

Inspired by a friend who wrote one for me a few years back.  I didn’t even attempt to respond with my own at the time, denying the true call-and-response tradition of hip-hop.  Perhaps it was insecurity, or feeling “inauthentic,” I’ve never really wanted to be an emcee (a DJ, yes), but no, never a rapper.  I can listen, appreciate hip-hop.  I can write about abortions, eating women’s placentas (in the voice of the aswang, of course!),  family secrets, but rap?  No, never.

I wrote the rap/poem in about an hour, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve ever had that much fun writing something.  The entire writing process was spent laughing aloud to myself, while thinking of braggadocious metaphors.  One of my favorite lines “I’m on you like jasmine on rice.”

I realize that the rap is meant to be performed orally, and I’m entirely uneasy about this.  If I could, I would love to sound like Ladybug Mecca, from Digable Planets, the NYC crew from the early 90s.  She is just smooth.  I remember sitting in the backseat in my older cousin Shaun’s car, listening to a scratched cd of “Blowout Comb” on the way to my grandma’s house to go swimming, in the middle of the summer.

Reading an East Bay Express article about them today, I learned that their biggest muses were “insect life and jazz.”  Insect life?

“They decided to name themselves after insects as a way of connecting with the smallest earth-furrowing creatures on the planet, thereby protesting stereotypical rap dreams of being “Out of this world, or bigger than life.” On the song “Black Ego,” Doodle raps ‘I got insect thoughts/Cats with cool ways/Clouds of purple haze keep me in a daze/Many different things trying to get to me, but in a world of hard rock I keep my humility.’ ”

I can dig this smallness, this need to feel speckness.  Call me ‘Chelley the Bee’ buzz, buzz.


(Ok, FINE!)

from the bay to l.a.,

I pop poems like tarts,

hand ’em over to the ocean

teemin’ with sharks,

and there you are, on the sand,

lookin at me,

watchin ink from my fingers

dribblin free

one by one, I lick em

so effortlessly

oh baby, oh honey,

we eat this poetry

when the pacific breeze hits

and I twitch with cold

your arms close around me

they do unfold.

I want you next to me,

you make me cartwheel

in the sea,

and when you kiss me

on the neck

I only feel free.

Oh baby, oh honey,

we eat this poetry

from harlem to wash heights,

I knew we’d always

be this tall

can’t stop, won’t let no one

make us crawl

or fall on our knees,

prayin pretty please,

not rats and fleas,

they’re wishin

for baby mice

and at night,

i’m on you

like jasmine on rice

oh baby, oh honey,

we eat this poetry.


1 Comment

Filed under writing process

One response to ““I got insect thoughts”

  1. Hi Rachelle, How fun! This poem is so fun!

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