Essay

Ten Easy Steps: Gangsta Rap for Spiritual Seekers

By Duff McDuffee on December 14th, 2010
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bitzcelt/2870558876/sizes/z/in/photostream/

The following is a guest post from Philip Walter of myCreativeEvolution.com. Image credit: bitzcelt.

So, I have a confession to make: There’s a special place in my heart for gangsta rap. I know, what a tool, right? Yet another suburban white kid thinking he’s “hard” because he can quote 95% of the lyrics on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, but hey, it is what it is. I’m mostly over it now, some 15 years out of high school, but I still pull out those albums once in a while: Tupac’s All Eyez On Me, Eightball and MJG’s Comin’ Out Hard, or Biggie’s Ready to Die.

I’m not exactly sure what it was I found so attractive about that stuff. Aside from the major league production talents those guys possessed, I thought there was something really raw about those albums. The way they depicted such dramatic, messy, ruthless lifestyles seemed, at least for a time, more authentic than my own sheltered, sterilized, upper-middle-class experience. Over time, however, the gangsta rap phenomenon began to seem more and more contrived. I still appreciate a well-produced beat, and certainly enjoy a well-spun lyric, but my fascination with their apparently raw, authentic experiences has mostly faded.

In the end, I find myself skeptical of anything trying to appear authentic, particularly if it has a sales pitch attached to it. Maybe that’s why I like this blog so much. Eric and Duff actively go after those who would feign authenticity. In the ubiquity of bullshit that is the Information Superhighway and mass-media marketing in general, we need more skeptics. It’s simply too easy for a person to declare himself an expert and go to town exploiting folks. The result for me is that all this marketing material just starts to sound like gangsta: a catchy hook portraying some sexy image, spun over a slick beat. Reminds of the old Agassi EOS Rebel commercials—“Image is everything.”

As long as you’re selling muscle gain and fat loss, I suppose this is a perfectly reasonable strategy. It seems appropriate to sell that sort of thing by projecting an image, authentic or not (real-live testimonial, airbrushed celebrity cover shot, or otherwise). Things get dicey, in my opinion, when folks start selling “authenticity” itself with a slick image — you know: enlightenment, spirituality, inner peace, that sort of thing. What you end up with is a big circle-jerk of gurus trying to out-remember the others’ Original Face. It’s gangsta rap for spiritual seekers.

Take my pitch, for example:

If ya lookin’ for peace, man, I got tha best plan.
Rememb’rin’ ya True Self ain’t never been easier.
You’ll never find another more holy deliverer.
So check me out on YouTube and give my free report a read.
I’m wearin’ mad mala beads, I’m sowin’ good karma seeds,
I wrote an eBook on Yoga, and I live engrossed in Samdhi!

Neti neti this, and neti neti that.
I’m not you, I’m not me, I’m all you ever fuckin’ see!
So let me be your guru. Let me be your master.
Just ten easy steps, from here to what you’re after.

If ya lookin’ for enlightenment, don’t expect to find it.
It’s never very far, yeah, it’s close proximity.
It’s right before your eyes, but you’re blinded by insanity.
I got your eyeglasses, yeah, I’ll restore your eyesight.
Just pull out your credit card and join my members-only site!
I got your mantra, I got your meditation.
I even got your sweet incense, so sign up for my mailing list, bitch!

Neti neti this, and neti neti that.
I’m not you, I’m not me, I’m all you ever fuckin’ see!
So let me be your guru. Let me be your master.
Just ten easy steps, from here to what you’re after.

That’s a little ditty I wrote back in the day, called “Ten Easy Steps, Y’all!” Whatchyou got now?!

Seriously, though, I think it illustrates the fine line we who deal in deep transformation walk. The nondual Alcoholics Anonymous speaker, Paul Hedderman is fond of saying the human mental mailbox is a conceptual one. That means if we’re going to point something out to others, we have to do so with images; but as we make clear over at myCreativeEvolution.com, spiritual practice as authentic expression of your True Self is precisely the opposite of image projection. The creation, projection, and maintenance of a neurotic self-image are activities that occupy the mind in its mechanical mode. True, authentic expression of Self requires the creation of a certain friction against this mechanical story-telling inertia.

And if you don’t buy that shit, by all means, seek on mutha-fuckas!

Philip Walter is a mad scientist of a yogi, seeking to make the insights of the world’s great spiritual traditions more meaningful to modern humans through the application of cutting-edge science. He is a Prasara Yoga instructor in Little Rock, AR, who created the blog at BrickhouseBodymind.com three years ago. He now explores the outer limits of human development at myCreativeEvolution.com.

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9 Responses to “Ten Easy Steps: Gangsta Rap for Spiritual Seekers”

    • I love that guy!

      You know, Arj and I are actually doing a mystical mastery telesummit next month, focused on eliciting abundance through the creative visualization of poverty. It's a reverse psychology meditation. Only $2,500, man!

  1. This week only, enlightenment special. buy one, get one free.
    My recent post Consciousness or Awareness

  2. It's old news for most, but my current favorite play on gansta rap and authenticity is Die Antwoord (also playing expertly on gender and class issues). I was relieved to discover they weren't "for real" after I heard these truly evil genius lyrics: http://lyrics.wikia.com/Die_Antwoord:Beat_Boy

  3. Henway says:

    Gangsta rap and spirituality go together like peanut butter and jelly.
    My recent post The Holiday Colon Cleanse

  4. This post is a little bit technical, particularly the ending paragraph. Yet it is an interesting one. Can I ask you to clarify what the following phrase means : "The creation, projection, and maintenance of a neurotic self-image are activities that occupy the mind in its mechanical mode."?

    What do you mean by "its mechanical mode" and what do you mean by "occupy the mind"?

    • Sorry for the delayed response here.

      If you're still interested, the human mind (which in this case refers to the uniquely human ability to keep up with a personal history, tell stories about things we've never seen, etc) is dependent upon the existence of the physical structures of the human brain. Because of this, the default behavior of the mind (that is, what we tend pay attention to by default) is tied to the evolutionary drive to survive — the "biological imperatives" to have sex, avoid injury, and look important in front of others. This is what I mean by "mechanical mode." In mechanical mode, the mind is mostly interested in creating and maintaining a particular story or image about the self — Like "I am Philip, I do 'x,' and tomorrow I am going to avoid 'y,' and I honestly don't intend to do the wrong thing, etc." This sort of activity can quickly become neurotic when a particular image of oneself is "fixated" upon. This type of neurosis might sound in my head like, "I am Philip, and I can never seem to make it work with a woman. I can only get to a certain point, before I inevitably say something to screw it up. I'm about to say something stupid right now to screw this up."

      So, in summation, the statement basically says, "the internal human experience is most often consumed with the creation and validation of a particular image of self." Of course there are all kinds of variations of this internal dialogue, some of which appear to be completely useless in terms of survival, but it all comes down to validation of self-image. This is the mind's default or "mechanical" behavior. There are, of course, other things you can pay attention to, and this touches on what I would call "creative evolution" — http://mycreativeevolution.com

      Hope that answers your questions — Philip — http://mycreativeevolution.com/

  5. kri1987s says:

    it is very good, the rhyme. I don't care about whatever you trying to say, you just said it well in the post

  6. I love that guy! You know, Arj and I are actually doing a mystical mastery telesummit next month, focused on eliciting abundance through the creative visualization of poverty. It’s a reverse psychology meditation. Only $2,500, man!

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