Music, Poem Song & Spoken Word
What's the difference? Poems don’t have any music behind them and song lyrics do, that doesn’t really explain anything.
Music, Poem Song & Spoken Word - is it the same thing? Yes and no, poems are not limited to structure where as songs typically have them. But this is where hip hop came in and change the game. Lyricist were able to write a beautiful poem with a unique structure and use vocal delivery skills to bring it all together.
Often it is the level of respect given to musical artist. Many in the literary community have hesitation giving some musicians literary credit. Alternative hip hop artists like Kendrick Lamar just changed the game in 2018 by winning a Pulizter Prize. Nonetheless that seems to be the issue! Artists like Common are assisting this process in paving the way for lyrical masters...For example Common has produced numerous songs but one that stands out is "The People", there is absolutely no denying the poetic craft of many artists in the Hip Hop and all of the music community. The problem is popular radio play music tends to set the standard for which we are all judged.
Many musical artists present their song lyrics as poetry. This reflects not a commercial move on their part, but a desire for the words they write to be taken seriously. Poems can be taught in educational institutions and classrooms whereas songs, especially popular ones, usually are not. I am predicting this will change in the coming years. We in the musical artist community are truly starting to write noteworthy material. Many underground music artists have made great contributions to musical community but often our assessment is based on the popular stars of the current time.
Poets and those from the literary community tend to set the standard of the quality of song lyrics, and vice versa. But people who are not as familiar with contemporary poetry tend to accept musicians as poets when they express themselves in that way. In simple terms poems are “literary” and songs lyrics are written to be a song and performed by an artist/singer/songwriter.
Truth is poets, spoken word artists, songwriters and lyrical masters have already revolutionized the way poetry is written. I believe they are waiting for a select few to catch up!
My conclusion is music, spoken word and poetry go hand in hand and should be respected and honored appropriately. Let artist create, innovate and liberate!
NOTE: Gil Scott-Heron (April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011) was an American soul and jazz poet. He wrote and was a classically trained pianist and one of my inspirations.
Scott-Heron is the first rapper/MC ever. "Whitey's on the Moon" is an absolutely brilliant composition of comedy, activism and musicianship. His recordings were powerful and still set the standard for lyricists of today. Another favorite is "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
I was so inspired by his work I wrote and performed "The Revolution Will Be on Facebook'
I can say will full confidence Gil Scott was a poet, composer and his work represented that.