Friday, August 26, 2016

The Voice of a Crippled Generation

Paul Zielinski always dreamed of being a rapper. But everybody always discouraged him. It wasn’t just because he was white and Polish. It was because he was born with cerebral palsy. He talks all slurry and people think he’s drunk. He walks funny, too, like a drunk trudging through high snow. He's even been known to drool on occasion. So who would take him seriously as a rapper?

But all that negativity didn’t dissuade Paul. As a matter of fact, it inspired him. And today, not only is he a successful rapper, he is a groundbreaking artist who is revolutionizing the genre. He’s invented a style of rap where the words don’t rhyme. His raps have no repetitive rhythm so you can't dance to them either. His raps are structured more like prose than poetry. And there isn’t any music.

Paul’s style of rap is very cerebral. That’s why he calls himself Cerebral Paul Zee.

Like every artistic pioneer and innovator, people either love him or hate him. Rap purists accuse him of heresy. New York Times rap critic Ice Pik describes Cerebral Paul Zee’s raps as “nothing more than sophomoric monologues.” But the famous rap blogger Cussin’ Cousin lauds Cerebral Paul Zee as “the Charlie Parker of rap,” referring to the revered alto saxophonist who freed jazz from the stifling constraints of Glenn Milleresque swing by ushering in the bebop era.

Cerebral Paul Zee himself seems to delight in ruffling the feathers of old schoolers. In a recent interview, he said, “Who says all rap has to have the same old rhythm and rhyme? It’s not a fucking Hallmark birthday card!”

Cerebral Paul Zee has legions of adoring fans. They packed the house for his most recent concert. Sitting on a simple folding chair on a bare stage, he delivered his most popular rap, entitled “Talk to Me, Bitch!”

I went to a restaurant with my friend Chloe. The waitress asked Chloe for her order. Chloe said, “I’ll have the poached salmon and a glass of petite sirah.” And then the waitress said to Chloe, “And what will he have?” And I said to that waitress, “Talk to me, bitch! I ain’t deaf! I ain't contagious! Talk to me, bitch!"

Cerebral Paul Zee may be an iconoclast, but his work still retains many of the elements of tradition rap. First of all, he uses the word bitch. And he writes about the alienation and anger he feels living as a crippled American. Here’s the title rap from his latest release, “Asshole Cabbie Just Blew Right Past Me!”

I was standing on the corner waving my arms like a maniac. “Taxi! Taxi!” Asshole cabbie just blew right past me! I bet he thought I was drunk and gonna puke all over his cab! If I ever see that asshole cabbie again, I WILL puke all over his cab! I’ll puke all over him too!

Also in keeping with the great traditions of rap, Cerebral Paul Zee is embroiled in bitter feud with another rapper. His arch enemy is the east coast crippled rapper Autistic Freedom. Both crippled rappers accuse the other of being responsible for the tragic shooting death of the one-legged rapper Ampu T.

Cerebral Paul Zee is a man who raps to his own unique beat. He’s the voice of a crippled generation.


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