He is a poet because he’s made us, through simile, visualise a pinch of marijuana anew.
He does this with the line: “coughing on some shit the same color as a buck’s jersey”. The “jersey” in question is that of The Milwaukee Bucks, an American football team (you say “jersey”, Jacka where I say “shirt”).
The shirt-associative “shit” bruises the line with sweat, touchdowns, and penalties. I like the fact that you get ruminant wildlife in there too, Rizla-rolled into the urban scene. What are football shirts if not the Mycenaean Armour of young bucks making their way in the world?
That word jersey reminds me of my South African childhood. Now, in order to be understood, I’m supposed to call them “jumpers”. Part of me still hankers for “jersey” though, a warmer, woollier word. Surely a jumper would spring from your torso as soon as you slid it over your head? A jersey however cossets and adheres.
I have only a passing interest in rap, but I caught The Jacka’s line as I came off the exercise bike at the gym where I’d been huffing my way through 20 minutes of David Whyte, enjoying how the body is able to use the mind’s annoyance at not remembering words to add propulsion to the work of the muscles.
On the bike, not entirely self-conscious (it’s not that kind of gym), but more self-congratulatory, I exulted in the multi-tasking merit of my activity: exercising and learning poetry by heart, how extraordinary am I!
Five minutes later in the changing room, the kid towelling himself down next to me recited poem after poem after poem. Hundreds of lines, without a single glitch or false-start.
In the poem mentioned above (‘Kuran‘), The Jacka speaks to his 3 year-old daughter, like the man on the train, dandling her not with his fingers but with words: “Every time I stare at you, the purest thing about me./Tell me what we’re all going to do?/The world is cold./I need Allah’s help./How can I guide my seed when I can’t guide myself?”
For a moment, my cooking pot mind left its “arrogant aloofness” and noted the intimacy of its surroundings (“alertnesss is the hidden discipline of familiarity”).
Later, walking over to S.L. for a cup of tea, I felt this again in an exchange between a man coming out of his flat and a grey-haired workman from the building next to his:
-Last to pack up for the day! -That you are, that you are. -Trying to please the guv’nor. – Fair do’s…
We’re all trying to please the guv’nor though, aren’t we? Mainly the one in our heads.