Support local journalism. Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club.

Wednesday, August 19, 1998

Review - Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me!

Artist: Various artists

Posted on Wed, Aug 19, 1998 at 4:00 AM

"Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me!" is the essential aural companion to Bruce Jackson's 1974 book of the same title, a study of the literature and culture surrounding narrative poetry, or "toasts," from African-American oral tradition. More than simply poetry, toasts come to life only in the theatrical and individually stylized way they are presented. Just as the characters portrayed in many of these toasts establish their reputations through words, the tellers themselves assert identity by how well they present the tale.

Just beneath the colorful, folksy surface of the toasting tradition simmers a hotbed of psycho-social issues. Toasts like "Pimpin' Sam" and "Hobo Ben" are as violent, obscene and misogynistic as they are playful and humorous. "Titanic" -- a tale so bawdy Celine Dion wouldn't touch it with a 200-foot mast -- veils racial and sexual politics behind an extended "dumb whitey" joke. And "Stackolee," an age-old tale that is part horror show and part reality-based, puts the continued popularity of gangsta rap in perspective.

Though so much has changed in the years since toasting evolved into rapping, it is both amazing and tragic how much has stayed the same.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 26, 2022

View more issues


© 2022 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation