Run DMC Rapper Dissed As Poet
Reverend Run from legendary hip hop outfit Run DMC has lost his bid to become Poet Laureate. The rapper was one of 75 people competing for the prestigious title in his local neighbourhood of Queens in New York.
Reverend Run, real name Joseph Simmons, was not surprised by Friday’s announcement of the winner, admitting that perhaps people are not ready to accept rap as a form of art. "I don't know if Queens is ready for a rapper as a poet," Simmons said.
His application created a stir in the fine arts community, which rarely legitimizes popular music as an art form, let alone hip hop. But Simmons insists that over the years he first wrote his lyrics as poems, which were later set to music.
To qualify for the title of Poet Laureate in the borough, applicants must write in English and had to have lived in Queens for at least five years at some point. A Korean-American woman, Ishle Yi Park, was announced as the new winner for her work ‘The Temperature of This Water’. She also appeared on Def Poetry Jam, run by Simmons’s brother, hip hop mogul Russell Simmons. She will hold the title of Poet Laureate for three years.
The independent panel of judges were said to have tried to disqualify Reverend Run since he recently moved to New Jersey. However, Simmons lived in Queens for all but two years of his life.
Simmons intends to pursue the famous poet’s title in coming years, but not just for Queens, this time for Poet Laureate of the entire U.S.
Simmons co-founded Run DMC with close friends Darryl McDaniels and Jason Mizell as teenagers, and adopted the names Run, DMC and Jam Master Jay respectively. The group sold millions of records in their career, but more importantly, pioneered the style of rap that was marketed more successfully by rappers after them. Run DMC lyrics and music were influential for years to come, tackling politics, spouting gangsta conquests, overlaying raps and sampling rock long before Public Enemy, N.W.A., The Beastie Boys, Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G. and P Diddy.