The memoir of MK Asante, called Buck, is a beautiful, twisted, and creative story of his life. Although it is written in his perspective, we also see the perspective of famous rappers as well. MK Asante uses famous lyrics from songs he has heard throughout his life to explain or show how he is feeling or to present a certain situation in a more creative way to appeal to the reader. Music is very powerful way of expressing yourself because anyone can do it however they want. It could be saying a poem over a beat, singing, rapping, freestyling, and even screaming at the top of your lungs. The author Mk Asante is moved by music and used lyrics as another opportunity to get his feeling across to the world. This is very important because it adds creativity and uniqueness to keep the reader interested. Not only does this keep the reader interested but it also adds a soundtrack, an image, and a view of life from famous celebrities into the readers mind.
Throughout the book, there are multiple instances where he uses these lyrics but some seem to stand out more than others. For example, around this time in the book, the writers brother is on trial. Mk states that he wishes he was a black panther and so he could just go into the courtroom and take what is his, which is his brother. Right after, he uses a like from 2Pac’s song called ¨Panther Power¨: ¨I strike America like a case of heart disease, panther power is running through my arteries...¨. Not only does this put a soundtrack into the readers’ minds but it also is a deeper way of telling how the writer was feeling at the time. 2Pac states that that he strikes American like ¨a case of heart disease¨, by this he is implying how much power the Black Panther Party has. He then says that he has the ¨Panther power¨ flowing throughout his body...implying that the panther blood is what makes him so powerful. This ties into the writer’s (Mk Asante) statement of wishing he was in the Black Panther party because he knows of their power. Their purpose was to protect African Americans from police brutality and that is what he wanted to do...protect his older brother and stop him from being pronounced guilty.
Almost in the middle of the book, the writer was going through a time of his life when he believed that money meant everything to him. Mk believed that money could buy any woman, any car, clothes, land and freedom as well. He has gotten into a business run by drugs and money and that is what he lived by. Here, Mk uses a line that the rapper AZ said in Nas’ ¨Life’s a B*tch¨: ¨Visualizin’ the realism of life and actuality, f*ck who’s the baddest a person’s status depends on salary...¨. Again, adding lyrics shows the reader the more creative side of the writer Mk Asante as he tells us how he feels through rap lines. The author at this time has had a realization of life. This lyric implies that life can only be real to a person if they actualize it, that is if they fully immerse themselves in the living experience. He is beginning to see that everyone dies at some point and he wants to live it up any way possible and that is by getting as much money as he can. At this time of Mk’s life he believed that a high status could get him whatever he needed or wanted. He was driven by status and status is driven by money.
Towards the end, Mk starts telling us about the time of his life when he mentally started ¨growing up¨. He started seeing family, love and appreciation as the true meaning of life. He also began to open his eyes and see all the problems and hate that is in the world. The writer himself added a line to explain how life in ¨the hood¨ was perceived by him: ¨Against all odds, the math’s off, forcing us into the night, where we bargain against death for discounts on life, we get half off...¨. This quote is different from all the others in the book because it is by the author who is not as famous as the other lyricist’s lyrics he added into the book. Since many people have not heard the author rap over a beat, it does not add music or a soundtrack into the reader’s mind unlike the other famous lyrics from actual famous songs. Even though people cannot create an image as easily with this lyric, it still shows the more creative side of the author. He implies that living in the hood is a constant fight for survival. The ¨thugs¨ go out at night for their money but the risks are high since they could be in danger at all times. The line ¨we get half off¨ shows/tells the reader that the life that these men are living is not worth is not worth is because their lifespan is cut in half because of the danger they are putting themselves in.
TA - Nehisi Coates, author of ¨The Beautiful Struggle¨ says that ¨Buck takes the daily words of the American streets and forges something low and lovely, angry, profane, and beautiful, it honors the best of hip-hop’s literary canon by producing work worthy of inclusion.¨ Nehisi Coates implies (in more detail) that this book shows all the emotion of the author and taps into the emotion of the reader not only by telling a great story but through hip-hop as well. As stated before, this book is amazingly creative and the use of the best lyrics in hip-hop only strengthen this book allowing it to be one of the more creative and artistic books created.
In an interview with soundcheck staff of WNYC, Mk speaks about his own book and adding hip-hop lyrics within the story:
¨Hip hop has always been a soundtrack to my life -- everybody I know growing up, we have what we call hip hop Tourettes. That means that we're just chillin', doing something, chopping onions, walking to the store, and we're just going to be spitting lyrics out, they just jump out of us at random times we can't control it. That was a realistic thing for me then -- and even now -- that I wanted that to be a part of the story. So I tried to find lyrics and songs that I listened to then. Those songs, from your childhood -- you don't forget them. It was easy to revisit those lyrics and put them in the book.¨
The lyrics within the book were one of the main aspects recognized by the reader. Mk Asante says: ¨I tried to find lyrics and songs that I listened to then. Those songs, from your childhood -- you don't forget them. It was easy to revisit those lyrics and put them in the book.¨
This tells the reader about how connected Mk Asante is to music and lyrics specifically. He was moved by the ¨art form¨ of rap and that is exactly what he wants the reader to experience...how he was moved by rap. He tried to include lyrics that defined moments in his life and he found the perfect ones because each one corresponds to what is happening in the book in a deeper way of thinking. At times you can’t understand what Mk is trying to say and that is when the lyrics come along, and at times you may not understand the lyrics and that is when Mk is there to explain. Music is a movement that connects with everyone in some type of way, Buck is the perfect example of that. Everyone is somehow connected with music even if have not realized is yet, everyone has their music and that was also something that the story tells the reader. Mk Asante’s music is hip-hop and rap, and by incorporating that into the story it almost motivates the reader to go out and find ¨their music¨ or explore or further explore the world of hip-hop and rap.
From start to finish, Buck will have the reader wanting to read more and more. The tale of Mk Asante is one that will be remembered because of this book. As the reader ventures more and more into this book they will find either something to relate to or something to attach their emotion to. If the reader is familiar with the lyrics he incorporates then it would allow the reader to almost create a bond with Mk Asante. That allows the reader to fully relate to Mk even if they have not gone through the same experiences as he did. Throughout his life, he has been through terrible situations that some readers might not have been through but at the end of the day music is a form of art that everyone can enjoy, therefore the ¨soundtrack¨ added into the story only allows the reader to connect with him and the story he is trying to tell. This is a story to love and remember because as the famous Maya Angelou said, ¨this is a story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style.¨
Works Cited for Analytical Essay:
Asante, Mk. Buck. New York: Random House, Inc; Spiegel & Grau. 2013. Print.