The other morning, reading a poem by communist poet Rene Char in the original French entitled “Eros Suspendu,” which translates to “Suspended Eros,” my Spotify happened to shuffle to an old song by Biz Markie, well known singer and rapper of Hip Hop lament “Just A Friend,” “Pickin’ Boogers.”
I saw a tiny weeny booger on the tip of her nose
She was dressed real def and her body was hooked
But that dried up booger just ruined her look
I wanted to tell her about it but I couldn’t be bold
So I played if off and said “that’s a cute green mole”
I was hopin’ from that she would wipe it away
But she didn’t do nothin’ I guess she wanted it to stay
I said before you get my number, I don’t mean to diss you
But write it in your hand because your gonna need the tissue
That part of the song instantly reminded me of a line in the Char poem that I had been reading, “Je déchirai ta robe d’infini, te ramenai nue sur mon sol.” It translates to “I will rip your dress of infinity, will bring you back nude to my ground.”
The philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, known as Hegel, theorized that ‘infinity’ is the negation of a negation. For example, infinity as a black person, would come to be lived by me by negating an overbearing racist negation of my humanity. A nude can often sometimes signify the very opposite of an infinity, and can be that of an oppressed or unemancipated body. As a communist, Rene Char believed that no nude would achieve this infinity unless if there was a proletariat revolution. Love to him, would come from riding one’s self from the illusion that that one was living an infinity and to be honest, nude, about the world that one is living, ground, and perhaps revolt to finally be truly, as a nude, be living an actual infinity.
Biz Markie, while expressing ‘eros,’ also thinks about “ripping your dress of infinity.” In his song’s case, infinity is the fact that she is “dressed real def” and that her “body is hooked” but also the young woman’s attitude. He may be interpreting all of this as an infinity because she has achieved this despite the misery from years of Reaganomics and the crack epidemic that had ravaged the black community, and that still continues to ravage it. He “rips this dress of infinity” by telling that first sarcastically that that’s a cute green mole and that secondly she is going to need a tissue for her “teeny weeny booger.” He does this to “bring her back nude to ground.”
Why do that? It is just a “teeny weeny booger.” Such teasing has been the case for years in the African American community with the dozens, which is at the heart of Hip Hop culture. However, it doesn’t answer the question. Why rip her dress of infinity? Why not just play along? Rene Char is doing it in order to revolt and to feel true love. Might Biz also be doing it feel true love?
I believe that through these lyrics, Biz is publicizing that romance is best when one is open about the other’s imperfections. She being a Venus de Milo to him, perfect art with imperfections, he does not at all believe that she is now unattractive because of this “teeny weeny booger.”
What’s fascinating is that both Char and Markie, underdogs, one as a communist, the other as a black man, in the race to shape their societies, go about it the same way. Biz Markie’s style of Hip Hop is now the past. It’s been replaced by replaced by a multitude of others, some great and others awful. Markie’s Hip Hop was very romantic, to the point of finding similarities between his work and the work of other romantic poets. If the large and burly Ben Webster was a giant of erotic Jazz, large and burly Biz Markie may also be the same in Hip Hop. In this case, he pushed romance to near its limits.