June 13 2008
This is my favorite time. Last night Dizraeli and I finished the script for the Rebel Cell, the first draft at least, and gave it our first test-reading to clock the time and flow: 51 minutes. This is my favorite time because he and I are agreed that it's some of our best work, cutting edge and funny, and very hard hitting, but at this juncture only he and I have been exposed to it. Actually that's not entirely true. We're also working on recording the show into a storytelling album along the lines of the Rap Canterbury Tales, and have the first track nearly finished. So a few close friends have heard the rough version of that one song, called "The Fallout". I wish I could post it for everyone to listen to already, but that will have to wait a few days. I remember when I finished writing my rap version of the Miller's Tale, I read it over to myself and thought "this is going to make a lot of people laugh and a lot of people look at both rap and Chaucer differently" and I remember feeling the excitement of knowing that it had yet to be unveiled. It's the inventor's thrill before he pulls the curtain on his new gizmo. Well, I think the Rebel Cell is going to make a lot of people laugh and also make them think about politics differently, both how things can change and also what we ought to appreciate that we already have. Of course, it may not get as much mileage as the Canterbury Tales has, but then again it might get more. That's part of the excitement.
Yesterday I also performed my first gigs of this UK tour, at a couple of High Schools in Nottingham. It was my job to introduce the students to Chaucer using the rap tales as a hook, and also to teach them how to rap in creative writing workshops afterwards. These kids were described by one of the teachers as having come from "households in the poorest 5 percent of English society", but when it came to writing rhymes they had some real talent, and some clever couplets, like: "I catch you hangin' out late nights at Vic Centre / Your mum's so old she's got dementia." They also had a lot to say about drugs and knife crime and sex in their lyrics, but luckily it's not my job to censor them, just to channel their commentary into a creative context. Some of them did this by taking the piss out of their teachers as well, which the teachers luckily had a pretty good sense of humour about. My favourite line was: "Mr Hobbs never comes to school with matching socks / Probably because his sock drawer is full of hatching frogs".
Now I'm back in Brighton for the weekend, set to work on the show and get some recording done with two producers here who have signed on to provide beats for the Rebel Cell album. That's one thing I love about Brighton: high concentration of talent, low concentration of projects with deadlines. Soon I'll have demos for curious ears, but for now I get to smile behind the curtain, and wait.