Friday, 14 June 2013

Hip Hop History Part II: Naming Is Power

“Naming is power.”
Jeanette Winterson

For all of you who have ever asked: Is it your real name?

Why do MCs/rappers and DJs change their name?
“Because this is the start of the history I create”, according to the legendary KRS One (who is incidentally, playing at Motion in Bristol tonight, 14th June).

“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned about doing good work. Protect your work and if you build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency. Life is like a roller coaster ride, it is never going to be perfect. It is going to have perfect moments and rough spots, but it’s all worth it.”
William Burroughs’ advice to Patti Smith.  (Video here.) 

For those in the USA descended from African slaves, names were given and some, (most notoriously, The Nation of Islam), rejected these names as those of slaves, given by masters to signify ownership.  Hence, Malcolm X.  The re-naming in this case was explicitly political, (as Malcolm X put it, “our real names were taken from us”).  People refused to be defined by the terms of their oppressors, instead trying to re-connect with their ancestral past in Africa.  This was a way of re-claiming power over themselves. 

In the gospels, when Jesus healed a person possessed by demons, he did so by naming the demon, and calling it out.  The demons also tried to gain power over Jesus by naming him as the Son of God, as in Matthew 8:29
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues."  Mark 16:17

I am not oppressed by slave masters, or possessed by demons, and I am not ashamed of my past. 
But I am in control of my present (and future, if such a thing exists).
Naming is power, and I name myself: No disrespect to my parents and ancestors, or their/our traditions and culture.   
However, it is up to us to define ourselves.  This begins with a name, and how we present ourselves to the world.

So, in answer to your question: Yes, Clayton Blizzard is my “real” name.


Clayton Blizzard

In English the meaning of the name Clayton is: Derived from a surname and place name, based on the Old English 'claeg' meaning clay and 'tun' meaning settlement. Also, mortal.
People with this name tend to be passionate, compassionate, intuitive, romantic, and to have magnetic personalities. They are usually humanitarian, broadminded and generous, and tend to follow professions where they can serve humanity. Because they are so affectionate and giving, they may be imposed on. They are romantic and easily fall in love, but may be easily hurt and are sometimes quick-tempered.

Your first name of Clayton has given you a clever, deep mind and the talent to excel in highly inspirational lines of endeavour as a dramatist, musician, writer, or artist.
You can be lifted by beauty in all forms and you are at the most creative when inspired.
Your expressive, affectionate nature responds very quickly through your feelings, but you must guard against being possessive and jealous.
You feel and sense much that you do not fully understand and cannot express.
Your delight in mystery could draw you into occult studies or religions.
Unfortunately, uncontrolled thoughts make it difficult for you to retain emotional stability, and prevent you from finding proper peace and relaxation.
You tend to centre your interest too much on whatever means the most to you, and then you become over-possessive and suffer through disillusionment and fear of losses.
Moods of depression, self-pity and a quick temper cause you much suffering.
Inner turbulence can deplete your vitality and have a detrimental effect on your health causing you to suffer through heart, lung, or respiratory troubles, as well as breakdowns of the nervous system.

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