I'm a huge fan of Joseph Campbell, as well as the subject he all but mastered in comparative mythology. Their various proposals suggest a global psychic unity that, in their scope, provide a certain hope to the individual. Like images suggest like ruminations the world over; no matter where we come from and where we go, we, as humans, have always contemplated the same questions, and come to rest upon the same conclusions.
"Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness."
"In the beginning there was only the swirling watery chaos, called Nu. Out of these chaotic waters rose Atum, the sun god of the city of Heliopolis. It is believed that he created himself, using his thoughts and will. In the watery chaos, Atum found no place on which to stand. In the place where he first appeared, he created a hill."
One of these universal questions -- asked by all peoples, all cultures is
Where does this all come from?, or a more relevant paraphrase, How is something created out of nothing? How did order arise out of chaos?
In both the above examples -- taken from Occidental and Egyptian mythologies respectively -- we see this question illustrated through the deities' first actions of separating and categorizing -- of creating order. The question is so profound, so difficult to wrap the head around, that the solution, in both cases, must come from the impossible actions of an impossible being.
(The imagery of water as a representation, enactment, or perpetration of chaos is fascinating, as well. Alas, however, this is a conversation for another day.)
This perpetual impossibility ensures that the question is asked repeatedly and continuously, so much so that its inquiry persists to this day. We see it all throughout today's arts and entertainment -- music, film & television, theatre, etc. -- what Campbell would refer to as creative mythology. I think it's important to note that finding an answer isn't necessarily the aspiration; in many cases, artists may find it more fulfilling to re-enact, rather than try and explain, this order-out-of-the-chaos. Their re-enactment, subsequently, shines a light upon their art, and themselves and artists and individuals.
I was excited to realize that the art of rap is no exception; the chaos-order dichotomy is, in fact, conspicuously baked right into the lyricism. With one's rhymes scheme, one has the opportunity to explore this yin-yang relationship, to utilize it in such a way to describe one's own personal relationship with chaos and order. An example:
Still waters run deep; I walk above it
What is this? An intriguing sentence, to be sure. The truth is that it could be anything. It could be anything from a song lyric to the beginning of a novel; by itself, on its own, the possibilities are truly endless. In other words, are we not handcuffed by its chaos?
Still waters run deep; I walk above it/
Jaws drop, then drawers drop, you gotta love it/
-- Trace Motivate, "Manako Yami"
Now, all of a sudden, out of the chaos of the single sentence we -- the Yahweh, the Atum -- have created the definitive order of the rhyming couplet. I have to say: personally, I'm energized by recognizing this as the celebration, the reenactment, of the order-out-of-chaos that it is. Recognizing the profundity of the act of rhyme assists me, the rapper, in treating the process with the deference and respect it absolutely deserves.
Now with the understanding that one's rhyme scheme is ultimately an engine that converts chaos into order, why not expand the paradigm? More specifically, it should be possible for one to inject as much chaos into one's verse as possible -- as long as one's rhyme scheme is eventually able to establish order by the end of the stanza, the verse, or even by the end of the song.
I'm of the opinion that however the rapper chooses to interact with this actuality results in an expression of who the rapper is as an artist and individual. How do they approach chaos? How important, to them, is the establishment of order? It allows for the development, and telling, of a story within the story -- and invites the artist to get creative with their mythology.
Matthew "AntiFrantik" Carter | Twitter: @AntiFrantik | IG: @AntiFrantik