Express Yourself: A Lyrical Critique of Reformers

Want to have a little lyrical fun? Express Yourself popped up on my ITunes playlist the other day. For those of you not familiar with Express Yourself, it is the song by the Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. It played in the background in the film Mr. and Mrs. Smith when they had the vigorous disagreement that trashed the house. The next song that played on ITunes was Fight The Power. I then wondered if there are other bloggers in the universe that also listen to Public Enemy before they blog?


My high school years began in the late 1990s, probably the golden era of Hip Hop. In those days, mainstream Hip Hop was arguably more political than it is today. NWA, a controversial Hip Hop group (Notably two members Dr. Dre-Beats headphones-and Ice Cube-lots of family oriented films-are now millionaires, maybe billionaires) sampled Express Yourself in a Hip Hop song of the same title.

For this post, I have borrowed liberally from NWA’s original lyrics and added my own artist expression to create a new lyrical critique of reformers and ode to old school Hip Hop. Play the NWA YouTube instrumental (below) while you read for the full experience. Rap along if you so choose. Happy Holidays!!

Yo, man… There’s a lot of reformers out there flakin’ and perpetratin’
But scared to kick reality.
Yo Dr. Diane, you’ve been doing all this dope writing.
You had a chance to show ’em what time it is…
So, what you want me to do?
Express Myself…

I’m expressin’ with my full capabilities,
And now I’m workin’ in higher educational facilities,
Cause some don’t agree with how I do this.
I get straight, meditate like a Buddhist
I’m droppin’ flava in 161 countries, my behaviour is hereditary,
But my technique is very necessary.
Blame it on Darling-Hammond… Because she taught me how to bring it
When you got a subject and a predicate.
Add it on a dope blog.
And that’ll make hundreds of thousands think.
Some reformers just tickle me pink
To my stomach. ‘Cause they don’t flow like CI.
You know what? I won’t hesitate to dis one
Or two before I’m through.
Some drop science
Well I’m droppin’ policy.

Express Yourself…
Express Yourself…
Come on and do it…

Express Yourself…
Express Yourself…
Come on and do it…

So where should a brother like me start expressin’ myself
My homeboy show you how
Yo Paul
What Up?
Drop a blog right about now
Now, gettin’ back to the PG.
That’s program, and it’s easy.
The ‘reformers” are hollow,
Smart expressin’ ain’t their subject
Because they like to follow
The neoliberal words, the style, the trend,
The posts I write uncloak their arguments.
Again and again and again
Yo, you on the other end.
Watch a professor writin’ dope blogs.
There’s no fessin’ and guessin’
While I’m expressin’ myself.
It’s crazy to see people be
What society wants them to be. But not me!
Is the way to go
They know.
Others say my blog fails
To be original.
You help me to forget about the naysayers
And blog for our nation’s children.
Some curse at home
But are scared to write truth
When I am up on the keyboard.
Yeah, I want reality.
But you won’t hear none from reformers.
They rather exaggerate, a little fiction.
Some say no to poverty pimping and take a stand,
But after the show they go lookin’ for the Gates man.
Or they try ban me from the radio and everywhere else.
Read Cloaking Inequity and say “Hell no!”.
But you know it ain’t all about wealth.
As long as you make a note to…

Express Yourself…
Express Yourself…
Come on and do it…

Express Yourself…
Express Yourself…
Come on and do it…

Cloaking Inequity, the educational policy blog with lyrical flow. 🙂

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  • This is not good enough! There needs to be a video… 😀


  • Monty J. Thornburg, Ph.D.

    Non-verbal expression: Visuals and the power of the media, CNN

    On a previous Blog, Oct. 29th, “Who should we boycott” I mentioned the Fareed Zakaria show, Dec. 15th, where his so called “powerhouse panel” included Wendy Kopp.

    On that show she is seen dutifully nodding in agreement as Joel Kline, former NYC Schools Chancellor who “framed” their education discussion by saying:

    “This failure is not a problem with poor children, or, children overall who grow up in deprived environments.”

    Joel Kline was referring to the (PISA) scores “Program for International Student Assessment” which led Sec. Duncan to declare a need for an American, “Wakeup Call” in education.

    One of the panel’s major points was to tell us that students in China and many other countries succeed because they are in school as many as 50 days per year longer than typical American children.

    I kept thinking, Julian, but we do have some children in school as long, even longer, than those in China!

    Our incarcerated children, those in Juvenile Detention, are in school year round!

    Hip Hop and incarceration, the “school to jail” pipeline, “children from deprived environments” including migrant and undocumented children, children in segregated communities- ALL, listen to Hip Hop, create Hip Hop, and it is important for them -for us- to Express Themselves!

    At UC Davis, Dr. Vaira Watson, Director of Research and Policy for Equity, has started a program called (SAYS) Sacramento Youth Speaks, and it’s a program within the UC Davis School of Education CRESS Center that engages, educates, and empowers students, poet-mentor educators, and teachers in a collaborative, innovative partnership both within and beyond the walls of school. They performed Hip Hop and RAP at the last 2013 Equity Summit. Check it out.

    This is way past where non-verbal expressions, smiles, nods, followed by assertions on powerful media sources such as CNN that then allow Wendy Kopp to declare that their ilk bring leadership through TFA and these corporate privatized means! Well!!!!????

    Well, Julian, I think many of these detractors would like to see you back with your “Hip Hop” friends, or in prison, like they tried with Mandela. Sorry!

    Thanks, Merry Christmas and happy holidays, and, Express yourself!


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