E quanti ricordi che restano a galla come fiori di loto.
—  Salmo

I’ve written before about how theatre can teach trust, empathy, compassion, peaceful conflict resolution, deeper cognitive thinking, delayed gratification, create community and understanding.  The men in Rehabilitation Through the Arts have far fewer disciplinary infractions inside the facility and a dramatically lower recidivism rate upon release than the general population.

I often wish I could take the guys to the theatre. You may be able to imagine that a fair number of these men had no access to the arts as children. (That’s a separate post.) We make do with production photos and the occasional “adapted for television.” Until the cast of Hamilton beautifully and powerfully performed their opening number from the stage of the Richard Rodgers Theatre for the Grammy ceremony, and then performed at the White House. Until Lin-Manuel Miranda free-styled in the Rose Garden with President Obama. Which I promptly burned onto a DVD and waited for clearance to bring into the facility.

Tonight we watched Lin-Manuel perform a piece from his ‘concept album’ at the 2009 White House Poetry Jam, and we talked about how that audience received his work. We talked about what happens when people laugh and you’re serious, about the decision to stand one’s ground and follow one’s purpose, which is a hot topic in our rehearsal room as we get closer to sharing our months of work with the population of the prison. “He gets more confident as he goes.” Some of the men are worried that the population won’t understand Shakespeare; some are worried that they will laugh at the serious parts. Tonight, one of the elders in our circle says, “We have to tell the story.”

We watch a Broadway show in the Big House. Well, four minutes of it. We watch the Grammy performance of “Alexander Hamilton.” Heads nod to the beat; some of the men snap along. “Can we watch it again?” We can.

We talk about how Hamilton is performed on a bare stage, just like we’ll perform Twelfth Night. “No one laughed when he said his name this time.” We talk about how Miranda uses language, leverages rhetoric to find each character’s voice, just as Shakespeare did. We talk about working for six years on something you believe in, and we speculated about the long, uncertain nights somewhere in the middle of year three, year four. The men know more than the rest of us can imagine about long, uncertain nights in the middle of a very long bid to survive. I attempt to describe the beautiful specificity of the physical and vocal choices that Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, and Anthony Ramos make to differentiate Lafayette from Jefferson, Mulligan from Madison, Laurens from Philip Hamilton; we’ve been working on character walks.

We watch the cast perform “My Shot” at the White House; we woop. We joyfully behold the son of Puerto Rican parents and the first African American President freestyle in the Rose Garden. We cheer. (One or two of us might tear up, but we don’t need to discuss that.)

These gorgeous, thoughtful, wounded men rarely see themselves represented in the world. As they fight to become the men they want to be, they still mostly see themselves in the narrative as junkies, dealers, thugs or the latest Black man brutally gunned down in the streets by the police. According to an Opportunity Agenda study, “negative mass media portrayals were strongly linked with lower life expectations among black men.” (Who lives? Who dies? Who tells your story?) But tonight, in the midst of our shared creative endeavor, they saw themselves smack in the center of the narrative of creation, possibility, pursuit, and achievement.

Representation unabashedly made me weep tonight as I watched a few of the men lean in.

Representation matters.

Representation is beautiful.

And I am not willing to wait for it.


As of 2014 Eminem Holds The Record For Most Grammy Awards for The Best Rap Album Category. - Wikipedia

With 6 Wins Out of 7 Nominations. -

  • someone: *asks a question about taylor swift*
  • my friend: hoe don't do it
  • me: Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter. Raised in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, Swift moved to Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 14 to pursue a career in country music. She signed with the independent label Big Machine Records and became the youngest songwriter ever hired by the Sony/ATV Music publishing house. The release of Swift's self-titled debut album in 2006 established her as a country music star. Her third single, "Our Song," made her the youngest person to single-handedly write and perform a number-one song on the Hot Country Songs chart. She received a Best New Artist nomination at the 2008 Grammy Awards. Swift's second album, Fearless, was released in 2008. Buoyed by the pop crossover success of the singles "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me," Fearless became the best-selling album of 2009 in the United States. The album won four Grammy Awards, with Swift becoming the youngest ever Album of the Year winner. Swift's third and fourth albums, 2010's Speak Now and 2012's Red, both sold over one million copies within the first week of their U.S release. Speak Now won two Grammy Awards, while Red's singles "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "I Knew You Were Trouble" were worldwide hits. Swift's fifth album, the pop-focused 1989, was released in 2014. It sold more copies in its opening week than any album in the previous 12 years, and made Swift the first and only act to have three albums sell more than one million copies in the opening release week. The singles "Shake It Off" and "Blank Space" both reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • my friend: oh my god

Lines, Vines and Trying Times is the fourth and final studio album by the Jonas Brothers. It was released June 16, 2009 in the U.S 

Rolling Stone Interview :

Lines are something that someone feeds you, whether it’s good or bad. Vines are the things that get in the way of the path that you’re on, and Trying times — well, obviously we’re younger guys, but we’re aware of what’s going on in the world and we’re trying to bring some light to it. This new album for us, I wouldn’t say it’s a big jump, but it definitely is a progression in our music and a growth for us. It has a lot more kinds of horns and a lot more strings.” - Nick

“There’s more to the music rather than just a typical kind of relationship song.“ - Joe


I was on YouTube and I found this video of James from 2009 playing Move My Way.


like. did yall know that gym class heroes was formed in 1997? they’ve been a band for nearly 20 years now (and even if you wanna say that they’re not a band anymore since they haven’t released anything since papercut 2, you’re still looking at 14 years.)

travie’s been working his ass off for such a huge portion of his life only to be met with a really small fanbase compared to 21p, who basically came out of nowhere in 2009 and within 5-6 years became one of the biggest bandoms on tumblr. that’s very #yikes

and i do realize that part of the reason 21p is more popular than travie and gym class right now is because of activity. 21p has released 4 albums since 2009, whereas gym class has released 2, and travie’s released 1 solo album and a couple of singles. i think some people may also be turned off of travie and gym class because they’ve been around so long, and people think it’s harder or “pointless” to get into bands that are older or not as active anymore. (you also see this with cobra starship and the academy is, neither of which have the huge fandom presence that they used to because they haven’t really been active since 2011, tai especially. but this post is about gym class and 21p, so i digress.)

another thing that i see sometimes is people saying that it’s different because tyler raps about “meaningful things,” while travie raps about drugs and sex and “typical rap things.” and i won’t deny that there are some gym class songs like that– clothes off and kissin’ ears come to mind, for example. (i’m not knocking either song– i love them both dearly.) but so many gym class songs have way deeper lyrics than people think:

  • pillmatic is about travie’s addiction to prescription drugs.
  • faces in the hall is about bullying, especially homophobic bullying, and the tragic and senseless consequences that can come from it. (tyler joseph, meanwhile, cannot handle the Gay Burden.)
  • ass back home is about making a long-distance relationship work, despite the difficulties involved.
  • have you ever heard kid nothing boy vs the echo factor? it’s travie calling out the mainstream rap scene and acknowledging that people will listen if he raps about “mainstream rap things” (drugs, sex, callout raps, etc), but he voices his concern that people won’t listen to him if he’s just himself and that nobody is truly listening to him. (”I could tell you whatever you wanna hear/but if I just said hello, would you listen to me?”) does this sound familiar? it should– this is more or less what lane boy is about, especially the first verse of lane boy, but without sounding superior to other rappers and the rap genre itself.
  • kid nothing and the never-ending naked nightmare, a sequel song to kid nothing boy, is about much the same thing as the first kid nothing song, as travie acknowledges how far he’s come and his past mistakes but still worries about whether or not he’s truly being heard and listened to. there’s even a break where travie talks about how anxiety-inducing it is going to the grocery store and running into a fan, and it’s one of the most heartbreaking things i’ve heard.

and i’m just a casual gym class fan, i’m only familiar with a handful of their songs. you could ask someone who knows their music better and i’m sure they’d have way more instances of travie rapping about “real things” than the ones i’ve listed here. and guess what? even if travie did do nothing but rap about “typical rap things,” that still wouldn’t discount how kind and talented he is, or how long he’s been working in the music industry.

i’m not dissing 21p at all– i’m a fan of their music and i do believe that a lot of it has helped me personally– but that doesn’t give them a free pass to the shitty or ignorant things they do and say. unfortunately, a lot of people seem to believe that you can’t offer legitimate criticism on 21p without automatically also attacking their characters and the character of every single person who has ever loved 21p. which, again, is very #yikes, because attitudes like that close off possible avenues for discussion, so nobody learns anything and everyone just gets angrier at each other because they don’t make an effort to understand one another.

it’s okay not to like gym class heroes. it’s okay to like twenty one pilots. but if you dislike gym class and like 21p, you might want to more closely examine the reasons that you feel that way, because it’s more than likely that racism is an underlying factor there.