Intro to UR [originally posted 11.6.05]

About five years ago I had an idea for an online literary journal. The internet boom was the day's prevalent cliché and I thought I might cash in with a repository for what I thought was exceptional urban talent. Laden with grandiosity and biased by nepotism, I bought a domain name and had my brother help me put up urbanrhetoric.com. While I don't remember much of my mission statement, it probably had little to do with the self-serving purposes for which I devised the site, and more likely illustrated my intent to provide an outlet for a fresh voice.

This voice was to be the voice of new breed of intellectual. College graduates were of that age where hip hop was their birthright - their cultural description. They were alive to hear the first mainstream hip hop record and at the same time remember when rap labels had seventeen artists - all with very unique sounds. This new literati could dissect the metaphors of Lord Finesse, beat box for a freestyle cipher, and at the same time expound on the mediocrity of Joycean epiphanies. In short, formally educated people were brought up in the admiration of, and largely by, an iconoclastic street art form.

I wanted to develop a forum where these intellectuals (on a more narrow focus - my peer group) could share their poetry, artwork, music and ideas with each other, and, hopefully, the general public. I wanted to generate a publicity machine for the explosion of urban stereotypes, fusing the embodiment of the street with the wisdom of educators.

Unfortunately, I was not very self-motivated, had no knowledge of HTML, and for the most part, could not dedicate the time such a site required.  As editor-in-chief, UR became the home of the occasional rant by me, an occasional response rant from a friend, and some nifty flash experiments by my brother.

For me, the highlight of the UR experience was posting an angry response to the September 11th attacks on the web site. Outside of that, UR didn't seem worth the domain fees, and I let it expire.

It is odd how three years later the site is no less necessary than it was when I first devised it. This intellectual voice, while being more reflected in actual hip hop (some of these rappers have actually sniffed a college textbook) has still not been provided with an outlet for the most profound of its thinkers. The dialogue is still lacking, and this has been evident by the initial interest drawn by the new editor's appeals for talent and input.

In short, UR is fulfilling a need - a cavity left by commercialism, mediocrity and general ennui. It is with great pride that stand back and watch UR take off in more capable hands, and hope to encourage those who were interested five years ago, when this was a fledgling idea, to renew you enthusiasm, because it will be rewarded.

Finally, I want to point out that hip hop is my point of reference, and not a point of reference for the site. URis just like its namesake. It is a forum for the words and thoughts of those with an urban sensibility. Please take an active involvement in this site, as it is as much yours as it is the staff's.

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