The Hustlers Convention
At the end of the year 1971, I began to write "The Hustler's Convention", because of a need to express the realities of life on the streets. My understanding at that time, was that there were three types of education that a person may or may not receive in their lifetime. The first one was the education that you get at home (providing that you have a home). The second was the education that you get in school (providing that you can afford to go to school). And the third one consisted of the education that you got on the streets (Providing that you lived in a city or small town).
The one at home dealt with one's etiquette (i.e. manner's and hygiene etc) as well as one's language, culture, and genology (i.e. family history and lineage) and the third one consisted of how one relates to other people of all ages, races, religions, cultures, creeds, ideologies, opinions, attitudes, physical and personality characteristics, handicaps, skills, perceptions, occupations and authority. On rare occasions they reconcile, but most often they do not. I wanted to describe the beat on the street, the pulse, the music, the rap, the competition, the peer pressure, the games, the struggles, the trials and tribulations, the fun, the dangers, the daring, the risks, the love and the hate, the sub-culture, the lessons, the posture, the poise, the sounds, the noise, the styles, the attitudes, the psychology, sociology, and ideology, the vibes of the new tribes.
The chills, spills, kills, and sheer wills, the grit and grime, the scuffle, bustle and hustle, on the block, ad hoc, by the time off the clock, between a hard place and a rock, within a state of shock. To the mime of crime, and frame it in rhyme, for once and all time.
And since the Ghetto was where the stage was set, no one including I, could afford to hedge our bet, as I set out to describe this vibe, this life and death in one breath, because it's do or die, or don't do and die quicker so nothing beats a failure but a try, so we had to try and sift through the rabble, and unravel the babble, this obscene surreality, of mangled totality, this sadness, madness, and badness, of in a vain, profane, and insane, abomination of a hopeless situation, that was simultaneously captivating, stimulating, and humiliating, which had gripped, and hipped every ghetto mind to search and find, a way out of this pay-for-all, free-fall.
Living and dying from day to day, in the constant struggle between the predator and prey. But in every jungle, their are certain animals who warn the others when they are about to be attacked, and by their evasive actions, alert the other occupants to the imminent danger.
But what we thought was a concrete jungle, was really a zoo, and we were in it, like it was stew, with no one knowing what to do about it, except burn it down, or get out of town, in order to awaken from the slumber of sleep, snoring to the smell of hell, where only the condemed dwell.
Just to take a bath in this laugh, to inhale the incense of this pretense, and waltz in this false fraud of discord and strife, within the hustler's life.
To hustle means literally to "move fast" to haul ass, and don't be last, as you try to use your mind to save your behind. to deal within a wheel of misfortune. To stake your claim, to play the game, be different and not the same, and choose not to lose no matter what methods you have to use, which is what Malcolm X meant when he said: "By any means necessary."
The main hustler rule is don't blow your cool, cause a fool can't play a wise man, but a wise man can play the fool.
The Hustler's Convention is a masterpiece of street rap, and is considered a classic.
This style of discourse had a long tradition in black american culture, combining elements of African story telling with the rhyming techniques of street corner one-upmanship, know as "Playing the Dozens" and of "Jail Toasts" such as the "Titanic" and "Doriella Du Fontaine" and "The Fall" and Honky Tonk Bud" and "The Signifying Monkey"and "Death Row"
The Grandfather, under his "moniker" of "Lightnin' Rod" summarizes the rise and fall of the "Hustlers" in this epic ode, which up until this day, had not been equaled. (Stay tuned for the sequel) It was written with the intent that the hustler is the ghetto's primary role model, but in comparision to what he's hustling for, and what he's being hustled out of, there are only two types, the greedy and the needy.
Thus the Grandfather runs it down at the end of this "piece de resistance" by rapping: "I was sentenced to the chair, and shipped to Sing Sing from there, where I spent the next 12 years on death row, but I kept coppin' a stay, until the death penalty was done away, and after a re-trial, they finally let me go. "
It had cost me twelve years of my time, to realize what a nickel and dime, hustler I had really been, while the real hustler's are ripping off billions, from the unsuspecting millions, who are programmed to think they can win. "
But fortunately, I escaped from the deathly fate, of being fried alive in the chair, cause in my solitude I found, out about what's really going down, you