Good hip-hop musicians like Montage One use a combination of aggressive and defensive lyrics to make a point. This wordplay can be poetic or logical, straightforward or stealthy.
The yin-yang is more than just a cool symbol to market kung fu films, it also represents a fundamental, philosophical understanding of the positive and negative qualities of the self and the universe.
When one hip-hop musician goes after another musician using his lyrics, he can adopt a yin or a yang approach, using logical argumentation and poetic expression to nullify his opposition's qualities while at the same time assaulting their character with the power of words.
The yin, which represents the dark, feminine, mysterious, oceanic, wise and hidden nature of things, can be used as a way to insult rivals with an attack that robs them of their perceived invincibility using humor and imagery.
In "Mic Acrobats" Montage One uses both approaches. "Hated by the wack niggaz/feared by the weak/watch what they speak/talk on the low when we present..." is not only yin, it's also good logic.
Does the opposition hate Montage One? Well, then they are wack. Do they fear him? Then, they are weak, and have to be careful what they say when Montage One is around, so they speak low.
Now when you walk into a room, and see your opposition plotting a conspiracy, you can feel better knowing it's not because they are stronger than you, it's because they are afraid of you. This philosophy, courtesy of Montage One, can give you a much more positive perspective.
The yin-yang has a dark and a light side, though. There's water and fire in the universe, so a hip-hop musician can take a much more direct approach to fortify his logical position with excoriating blasts of fact-based rhetoric. Yang represents this fire, but can also symbolize rage and aggression.
Montage One's latest single from DJBooth's Event 20/20, "Black SpaceShip" featuring Gold Chain Military, has plenty of fire for the opposition to eat up. For example, check out aggressive lyrics like, "I'm rolling on you niggaz like a monster truck," and, "The black Magneto...my war is rap."
Warrior civilizations have always utilized art to reinforce courage and symbolically destroy enemies. We name our warplanes after predatory animals, decorate our family crests with monsters, and conjure up similar powerful images to fortify our spirit and scare our enemies off the battlefield.
Traditional Muay Thai boxers perform the Ram Muay, a dance not only for showing proper respect to the martial origins of the art, but also to symbolically slay one's opponent. Some Ram Muay dances even incorporate movements that mimic digging a grave and burying a body in it. By doing this, the Muay Thai boxer inspire's his own courage.
Ancient Maori warriors would pose with their weapons and give out a Haka, a combination of a battle cry and a challenging insult, intended to cause their enemies to flee in terror.
When hip-hop artists talk about having a deep posse, high-caliber firearms, or driving monster trucks to crush their rivals it's no different than the way ancient warriors, like the samurai of feudal Japan, embellished their arms and armor with fearsome creatures, mythological or otherwise.
Grant Morrison is an award-winning comic book author who is a giant in the field. He's made millions writing about the X-Men, Superman and Batman, and is a respected critic of the superhero genre.
His latest book, "Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero" is a discussion of how superheroes are no different than previous mythological archetypes humanity has called upon to dream of being more than humanly powerful.
When Montage One and Gold Chain Military rap in "Black SpaceShip" about being the black Magneto (one of the most powerful supervillains the X-Men have ever faced) and going to war, it's the same metaphor as describing an athlete's strength as Herculean, or saying that someone fights like Thor.
Hip-hop music is there for each of us to enjoy in our own way. I analyze the art because it's how I pay the bills, but we all listen to the genre because of the yin and the yang, the poetry and the anger. The music can raise our motivation and help us win whatever war we might have to face.
Producer FredWreck has once again given us hip-hop with solid musical and literary integrity. Montage One's 10.6.3 OGX album is due out in January of 2012.