29 May 2014

R.I.P. Maya Angelou

Yesterday, May 28th, Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86. The world lost a dynamic teacher, brilliant poet and passionate activist. But the hip hop community also lost a mother. Her positive influence inspired a slew of emcees who viewed her as the first "rapper". 

Q-Tip Tweeted that Maya Angelou was one of his "biggest inspirations". Tupac's track Still I Rise was directly influenced by Dr. Angelous' poem by the same name. Still I Rise by Maya Angelou was a poem about the black women's plight in a society that viewed them as not good enough. "You may shoot me with your words,/ You may cut me with you eyes,/ You may kill me with your hatefulness,/ But still, like air, I'll rise." Pac's song was about his personal adversities. He was born into a situation that essentially pinned him against the world. "Everywhere I go [dudes] holla at me, 'Keep it real G'/ And my reply til they kill me/ Act up if you feel me, I was born not to make it but I did/ The tribulations of a ghetto kid, still I rise." 

Other emcees who were influenced by Maya Angelou include: The Clipse, Wale, Kanye West, Digable Planets, Nas, Lupe Fiasco and The Roots. She has recently been featured on albums by Common and Kendrick Lamar, The Dreamer, The Believer and good kid, m.A.A.d. city, respectively. In the opening track for The Dreamer, The Believer Maya Angelou recites a poem at the end of the track. At the end of Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst Maya Angelou guides Kendrick Lamar and his boys into a prayer of forgiveness and appreciation. She ends with, "All right now, remember this day. That start of a new life. Your real life."

Maya Angelou was the voice of the marginalized and disenfranchised. Even when her celebrity grew, she still seemed to stay true to her beliefs and ideals. She has been in the presence of Presidents, received medals and awards, and was just an all around a great example of a great human being. She will be missed. Our condolences go out to Maya Angelous' family and friends.

"I have a chance to show how kind we can be, how intelligent and generous we can be. I have a chance to teach and to love and to laugh. I know that when I'm finished doing what I'm sent here to do, I will be called home and I will go home without any fear."

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