By Milette Millington
Published: October 31st, 2018
Before I begin, I’d like to note who the cast of Love Beats Rhymes (a movie) consists of. It includes Azealia Banks (Coco Ford), Jill Scott (Professor Nafari Dixon), Common (Coltrane, Dixon’s husband), and Lucien Laviscount (Derek Morris).
In this film, Ford (Banks), who is part of the group S.I.’s Finest, with Mahlik (John David Washington), Reasons (Caleb Eberhardt), and Matt (Jeremie Harris), aspires to be a rapper. However, Ford’s mother Nichelle (Lorraine Toussaint), wants her to focus on earning her accounting degree before she goes on to pursue her dreams.
On course to finishing her degree in the summer, she enrolls in a class called Poetry 101. Early on in the course, Professor Dixon (Scott) asks students to share a poem they’ve written. When Ford presents her piece, the students approve the rhythm and flow that she adds to it, making it more appealing to them.
However, Professor Dixon does not approve of it because it was considered a rap to her and not a poem. She makes a unique distinction between books and poems and how they change people: “Reading a book will change what you know; reading a poem will change who you are.”
Throughout the course, Ford learns more than she thinks she knows about the differences between rap and poetry, but she also learns more about who she is. The work that she creates also has an inspiring impact in the classroom.
Ford showcases her last poem to Professor Dixon after final exams. In this part of the poem, she is showing Professor Dixon how much she has learned in her emergence “as a writer,” as she says at the beginning of the poem.
She says, “I am the embodiment / of verses and stanzas. / Of freedom fighters and poetry slams. / We are no different. / If you examine the diameter of / hip-hop’s slang and grammar, / you’ll find that it is very / similar to the iambic pentameter. / But you’re so ignorant. / Rappers are poets. / And poets are rappers. / Only academics are / too afraid to admit it. / And despite what you think, / I did learn one thing. / That the truth is inevitable. / Oh. And yeah, / it doesn’t have to rhyme.”
During this poem, Ford makes Professor Dixon listen attentively to her so that she notices how much self-confidence she’s gained. Ford’s creativity in writing poems during the course was improved throughout the film. This skill allowed her to improve her songs.
This film shows how interest in something that is of less interest to an individual can change over time. It also shows how that changed interest can motivate a particular individual to continue pursuing their dreams. It is a movie worth watching.