Charles Mudede on the language of hiphop hands

"Not-Having-It Hands"

Says Mudede: “Though this hiphop gesture has its origin in standard body language (no way, not doing it, not hearing it), rappers never fail to give it greater expressive depth with more pronounced rhythmic articulation.” (Illustration by Mike Force for The Stranger)

Like many alternative-weekly readers, I’m a devoted pager-througher. The Stranger most definitely has its moments of brilliance. And, accompanying that brilliance, there perhaps could be a 10-page personal essay about someone’s two seconds working at Subway in 1997 and how that experience was analogous to capitalism. So, it’s a mixed bag.

This playful article by Stranger staff writer Charles Mudede, though, is the reason you persist.  His clear prose cites a neuroscientist or two, discusses language, and then beckons you into the motions themselves.

Face Hands

In the video for the Beastie Boys’ “So What’cha Want,” the late MCA covers his whole face as he raps, “But like a dream, I’m flowing without no stopping.” When he releases his face from the hands, he turns his head this way and that, like a man who was in the dark for many years and is now dazed by the bright light of the sun.


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