Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nikki Giovanni - Ego Tripping (sound file & words)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases a sound file of and the words for Nikki Giovanni's 1972 poem "Ego Tripping (There May Be A Reason Why).

The content of this post is presented for inspirational and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remains with their owners.

08. Blackalicious - Ego Trip by Nikki Giovanni (featuring Nikki Giovanni & Erinn Anova)

Neku Rau, Published on Sep 2, 2014

Track 8
Click for another uptempo version of this poem from the "Truth Is On The Way" album. Nikki Giovanni's poems in that album are spoken along with Gospel music. [embedding disabled].

(Nikki Giovanni)

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
the tears from my birth pains
created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
out the sahara desert
with a packet of goat's meat
and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
so swift you can't catch me

For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother's day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean...I...can fly
like a bird in the sky...


In African American slang, a person who is "trippin" is moving away from (taking a trip away from) the real world. "Ego Trippin[g]" usually means to brag about yourself without any basis in reality. It's usually an insult to say that someone is "ego trippin[g]". However, in "Ego Tripping", Giovanni probably wants her readers/listerners to positively view the self-boasting that is voiced in this poem.

The sub-title "There May Be A Reason Why" alludes to the poet's position that there's probably a legitimate reason or reasons for the ego trippin that is done in this poem. Incidentally, the sub-title "There May Be A Reason Why" is quite similar to the funk group War's 1971 song "There Must Be A Reason Why" which was included on their album "All Day Music". But the similarities in these titles might just be a coincidence.

In the seventh line of that poem, "I am bad" means "I'm very good".

The word "new/ ark" in the line ""My son noah built new/ark/..." is a form of the place name "Newark". Newark, New Jersey is a large metropolitan community that is near New York City. In the late 1960s and 1970s Newark was the site of a Black cultural nationalist organization, the Committee For Unified Newark" [CFUN], that was headed by the well known poet/playright/activist Amiri Baraka (Le Roi Jones). As such, and in no small part because of the positive connotations that could easily be made from that city's name, Newark, New Jersey was considered by Nikki Giovanni and some other persons in the Black cultural nationalists movement as a prototype for a city where [some] Black people had knowledge of and pride in their African heritage, and strived to adhere to the values of unity, self-determination, collective work & responsibility and other principles that are incapsulated in Maulana Karenga's Nguza Saba.*

I also believe that the phrase "new creation" in the last line of Nikki Giovanni's "Poem for a Lady of Leisure Now Retired" is an oblique reference to Newark, New Jersey. Click for a post about that poem.

Thanks to Nikki Giovanni for composing this poem and other poems. My thanks also for the producer & uploader of this video.

Thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome.

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