This week we read Sidney’s “The Defense of Poesy,” where Sidney vehemently defended the controversial art of poetry. Sidney argued in favor of poetry as a viable art form that uplifts the reader by educating them and is their foundation for knowledge. He also argued that poetry inspired people. But later in the piece Sidney denounces his contemporaries. He claims that they are using poetry as an outlet not for artistic purposes, but rather for frivolous ones.
This reminded me of the song “Superstar” by Lauryn Hill. In the song Lauryn raps about how “Hip-hop started out in the heart, now everybody tryin’ to chart.” What she means by this is that hip-hop started out as an art form that was creative and inspiring. Hip-hop music actually used to have a message, but now it has become just a way for people to make money and become famous.
This relates to Sidney’s argument that the art of poetry itself (or in Lauryn’s case hip-hop) is not bad, but their contemporaries aren’t executing it right. Lauryn even says in the song “Music is supposed to inspire. So how come we ain’t gettin’ no higher?” This is similar to how Sidney thinks poetry can be inspiring but many of his contemporaries weren’t using poetry to its full potential.
Below are only some of lyrics of the song, the ones that I thought related to this topic. A link will follow if you would like to hear the song.
“Superstar” lyrics written by Lauryn Hill:
Yo hip-hop, started out in the heart
Now everybody tryin to chart
Say what? Hip-Hop, started out in the heart
Yo, now everybody tryin to chart
C’mon now baby c’mon now baby c’mon now baby c’mon, uhh
C’mon now baby c’mon now baby c’mon now baby c’mon
C’mon baby light my fire
Everything you drop is so tired
Music is supposed to inspire
How come we ain’t gettin no higher?
Now tell me your philosophy
On exactly what an artist should be
Should they be someone with prosperity
And no concept of reality?
Now, who you know without any flaws?
That lives above the spiritual laws?
And does anything they feel just because
There’s always someone there who’ll applaud?