Love Beats Rhymes (2017) Movie Script

Rough street records freestyle
battle is now about to commence!
Ladies and gentlemen,
is Brooklyn in the house?
Is queens in the house?
Is money-makin' Manhattan
in the house?
Is Staten island in the house?
Where's the island at?
Guess they a no-show.
Let's go, y'all!
Come on! Give it up!
Let the countdown begin!
Ten, nine,
eight, seven,
six, five,
You can feel it, people!
That boy on fire right there!
Can you feel it?
Can you feel it in the air?
Si's finest, where you at?
Where you at?
Ladies and gentlemen!
Si's finest has showed up!
And they brought
a motherfuckin' coffin!
This fuckin' battle is on!
Watch me work.
Yo, pay attention y'all.
Hold up, hold up, wait, wait.
Si's finest. Great
performance tonight, guys.
Yeah, you all know!
What's up, baby?
Naveen, when are you gonna
hook us up with your boss?
Everyone knows
you got the boss's ear.
Richard Reid is a busy man. I
don't like to waste his time.
Waste his time?
What you talkin' about?
Rough street records needs a
group like Si's finest...
Hip-hop needs
a group like Si's finest.
We got somethin' for everybody.
A strong female rapper.
Undeniable skills.
You guys just won five grand tonight.
What else do you need?
A record deal. Duh.
Look, you guys
have great potential.
But I need more than
potential to sell records.
I need songs with structure,
hook, verse.
I'm definitely not bringing a bunch
of battle rappers in to my boss.
Yo, you don't know
shit about music.
Hangin' around in clubs
trying to scoop up groupies.
Throwin' around the a&r card.
Yo, man, a&r to this guy stands
for ass and romance, man.
I'm done with this conversation.
You guys enjoy your winnings.
Hey, Naveen.
You guys aren't done
talking shit tonight?
All I've ever wanted
was to be a rapper.
Rappers delight, California love,
mind's playing tricks on me.
Those are the songs
people remember.
I get it. That's what
you want from us.
We can do that.
Yeah? Well,
I haven't heard it.
You're in a&r. You're
supposed to see greatness
before anyone else does.
Anyone could walk in here
today and discover Jay Z.
But it took someone special to
see greatness in Shawn Carter.
Let me think about it.
Give me your info.
Where's Malik?
I dunno. Yo! See Malik?
Nah, man.
Why not?
I think Malik left.
You good?
Yeah. I ain't
trippin' over Malik.
Really. I just left
my hard drive in his crib.
Come on. Don't start.
Malik doesn't owe me anything.
And more importantly, I don't
owe him anything either.
You guys wear me out.
Yo! Uber's here.
Who's coming?
You coming?
I'm coming.
You coming?
I think I'ma hang around
a little bit longer.
I can't stand you.
You ready to go?
Get away from me.
Are you ready to go?
We killed it last night.
You had the audience
eatin' out ya hand.
Yo, yo, it's too hot for that, co.
Come on now.
You out?
I gotta work
the breakfast shift.
Get me a number 6 for lunch.
You wanna grub for free, get up off
your ass and come get it, lazy.
Yo, put some cheese
on that shit!
You're late.
Good morning, ma.
I didn't hear you
come in last night.
How you ever gonna
find someone to love
if you keep being
Malik's Booty call?
Who says I'm looking for love?
We all lookin' for love, baby.
Malik's always had my back.
You remember how good
he was when dad died.
What we have,
we don't need labels.
Yeah? Well where I come from,
it's got a label.
It's called "ho."
I call it like I see it.
What you lookin' at, huh? This ain't
no reality show. Get back to work.
These goddamn...
Ooh... oh, my god.
What happened? You look like
you just won the lottery.
It's Naveen from
rough street records.
"Good morning.
I thought about what you said
"and I showed your stuff
to Richard last night.
"He liked what he saw.
But he agrees with me
"so here's the deal.
You have three months.
"We have our labor day weekend
showcase for new talent.
"You send me three songs. Richard
and I like one, you play it live."
That is the ticket.
We're in.
It sounds like
a whole lot of maybes to me.
Well, you know these
music industry guys.
They're just always
trying to play it cool.
No, I don't know
these record label guys.
All I know is that he did not
just offer you a contract.
And you know what? Time's up, baby.
You gotta get back to school.
Ma, can we just not talk about
school for, like, five minutes?
Coco, we had a deal.
I need to focus on
this demo right now.
I'll go back to school
in the fall, I promise.
You were supposed to
be out one semester.
Baby, it's been almost a year.
Baby, your father and I, we
have made ridiculous sacrifices
to make sure that
you got to college.
Well, I'll pay you back as
soon as I get a record deal.
You wanna pay me back?
Just get it over with, huh?
You're almost done.
Summer session
starts soon, right?
Just do it. It'll be
over before you know it.
I can't be 30, trying to
start my rap career, ma.
Your not goin' back to school
is not an option with me.
It is not gonna happen.
Not on my watch.
You wanna rap? Fine. But ya gonna
have to do it between classes.
Yo, what the fuck?
What took so long?
I was... I dunno.
Are you gonna let me in?
What's up, y'all?
Coco, what's good, mama?
You smell like fuckin'
balls and underarms.
You want somethin' to eat?
As if I would eat
something over here.
Where's Malik?
How we supposed to know where Malik at?
Matt, you seen Malik?
Nigga, do I look like
his fuckin' parole officer?
Let me go upstairs
and get my bag.
You can't just be goin' in
Malik's room when he not here.
You can't do that.
Since when?
Go grab her!
What up, what up, what up?
Reasons and Matt said you weren't here.
What are you doing here?
Nah, I'm chillin', I don't know
why they said that, I'm just...
Guess what.
Richard Reid is gonna
give us another chance.
For real?
That's what I'm talkin' about.
Hey all right. That's what I'm
sayin', so let's put some shit down.
Let's do our thing, right?
Right, what?
I was...
I was write... I was writin'.
I was workin' on, you know,
I'm workin' on the lyrics.
I got these...
I got this shit in my head.
It's crazy, I just had like
this epiphany and shit.
And I was collabin' on some...
Actually, she got a new...
I got... we got verses.
We got hook... co!
Coco! Hey!
What the fuck is wrong
with y'all niggas?
You know I got... You know
I got shorty upstairs.
What's wrong with y'all? Why
didn't y'all say somethin'?
You know how the fuck she is, man.
The fuck is wrong with...
She just stormed in here.
Twiddle Dee, twiddle dum over here.
What the fuck, man.
The time is up, coco.
You have got to
get back to school.
Do you know how many sacrifices
your father and I made
so that you could go to college?
You wanna rap?
That's fine with me.
But from now on you gonna have
to do it between classes.
Hey, coco. Coco!
I thought you'd be
working on your demo.
I'm doing both. Just need eight
more credits to graduate.
What are you taking?
I have an accounting class at
3:00, just to finish my major.
And then just lookin'
for some bullshit course.
I got the perfect
bullshit for you.
Easy a.
Nah, no, no, no.
Yeah. Trust me
on this one.
No, no, no.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Hell, no.
Just give it a chance.
Professor's gonna be amazing.
Uh, excuse me, darling.
I think you're in my seat.
I think you're blockin' my view.
Well, listen that's my bag
next to the chair.
And this is my ass in the seat.
"I don't write poetry.
"I sweat poetry.
"I drink poetry.
"I breathe poetry.
"I make love to poetry.
"I fight poetry.
"I bleed poetry.
"I once tripped over poetry,
"got angry and kicked poetry."
"I live poetry.
"For I am poetry.
"I do not write poetry.
"Poetry writes me."
Welcome to poetry 101.
I am professor Nefari Dixon.
Thank you.
For the next 12 weeks
we will be discussing
the rhythmic
language of experience.
How many of you have
ever written a poem?
How many of you
don't even like poetry?
Well, let me give you
a word of warning.
This class is not
for the faint of heart.
You will explore
the limits of your abilities.
You will find those limits
and you will soar
past those limits.
Remember this.
Reading a book will
change what you know.
Reading a poem will
change who you are.
This is my teaching assistant, Mr.
Derek Morris.
He will run the study services
as well as be responsible
for the bulk of the grading.
We are fully-booked.
Who's that?
Any students that aren't
registered in this class
will have to audition
in order to get a place.
The audition process is simple.
Recite a poem from memory.
No songs. Just poems.
And I will decide who stays
and who goes.
So, let's get into it.
Who's first?
"How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways."
"If thou wilt not,
be but sworn my love
"and I will no longer
be a Capulet."
"Once upon a midnight dreary
"while I pondered
weak and weary." Hi.
Thank you. Chris.
Seat won't go down.
"I pledge
allegiance to the flag..."
And who do we have left?
Who do we have left?
Floor's yours.
"I start to think
and then I sink into the paper
"like I was ink.
"When I'm writin' I'm trapped
in between the lines.
"I escape when I
finish the rhymes."
Rakim, right?
Well that's a rap. So, I'm
gonna disqualify you.
You said "no songs." You didn't
say anything about "no raps."
And I think you're misunderstanding
what the audition process was.
No, I understand what
you're saying. I get it.
What you're
trying to say is that
what some dead dudes
wrote 100 years ago
is more important
than hip-hop is today.
I'm sorry,
what's your name again?
Coco Ford.
Well, I'm sorry, coco Ford,
but you're disqualified.
That's wack.
I'm out of here.
It is not an assumption that
you need this class to graduate.
So I suggest to all of you
who are remaining
to focus.
How can they teach poetry
and leave out rap?
Where's the English department?
This ain't right.
The Rakim fan.
Have a seat.
A little before your time, no?
My pops got me open on Rakim.
It's the first rap
I knew by heart.
Oh, you're one of those, huh?
You think that rap
and poetry are the same.
I grew up on hip-hop, okay?
I was the shorty running
around all the block parties.
I've forgotten more about hip-hop
than you will ever know.
And I've watched it
become misogynistic
and small-minded
and uninspiring.
Not all hip-hop is
misogynistic and small-minded.
Oh. You're talking
about conscious rap.
But no one listens to it.
They don't play it on the radio.
And no one buys it.
So you're just gonna turn your
back on the whole culture?
Oh, with fantastic lyrics like
"I woke up in the morning and
the girls were still there."
"They were naked with
their asses in the air"
and, I don't know,
some canonical work
by Ifmao or
whatever their names are.
Professor, you and your ta,
Mr. Morris
are in a position to inspire
people to do better.
You have a platform and a voice.
I'm not turning
my back on hip-hop.
Hip-hop has already
turned its back on us.
I'm sorry, class is full.
None of this sounds like us.
That's the point. We're
supposed to make a hit.
But it don't sound like a hit.
Yo, man, reasons makes
better beats than this shit.
Thank you, man.
Matt, come on.
you guys, we don't have
that much time to
get this together.
We need to come hard, all right.
Like east coast style, son.
Coming hard is why we're still
recording in this dingy-ass basement.
Yo, whatever, man.
I mean, for real.
We are not gangstas.
We have never been to jail.
And we ain't got no guns.
Coco, I got guns.
That's it.
Let's drop that.
No, that's the shit
I'm talkin' about.
Let me know when you guys are done.
I'm takin' a nap.
Get that "I'll be sure" line
and all that.
Especially, get that one.
You good?
Yeah, yeah.
Watch your feet.
You know you're wrong.
Co, can you forget about shorty?
Let me get some.
You ain't gonna give me none?
Have one.
Why are you so worked up?
You wound up way too tight.
Feel good, right?
It feels okay.
You know it feels good.
Yeah, co, we gonna get it.
All right?
We gonna get it.
We gonna get it.
Guess who's blowin'
you up on Twitter.
Derek Morris at
Derekinspace writes,
"students, next time
you can't get your way
"don't go running to the teacher.
That's not me.
Girl, you know it is.
What's his handle?
They can keep me out of class, but
they can't keep me off Twitter.
You gotta turn
everything into a battle?
Check this out.
That little hip-hop diva
is putting you on blast.
Let her in.
The iambic pentameter
is the most common way
of writing poetry.
Can you repeat that?
Iambic pentameter.
I want you to know this.
I want you to take her home,
ride her all night if you will.
But please,
do not marry the bitch.
Well, this week's assignment
was for you to write something
that scares you.
Who's willing to share
what they've written?
Let's see. Coco Ford?
You only let me in class today.
I'm aware of that.
But you are responsible
for your assignments.
You did receive the email with
your assignment and the reading?
I did the reading. I just didn't
have time to finish the assignment.
I only had a few hours.
Try to keep up.
As part of your curriculum,
you are expected to attend
at least one of Mr. Morris'
weekly slam poetry field trips.
Mr. Morris,
where is it this week?
This week, guys, we're gonna be
heading to the Nuyorican poetry slam.
Welcome to the house
Miguel Algarin built.
A mix of Nuyorican soul
and neighborhood hustle.
Here, you can learn
your love's truest name
and claim the reign to victory.
Here, you get to be whoever
you want to be. And more.
Welcome to the house of smooth
lyrics and slam poetry.
Slick talk and real heartbeats.
Here time stands still.
The vibe tonight, we takin'
it higher than we ever been.
Our first poet, Adam Falkner.
I can't believe all these
people are here for poetry.
The whitest thing. Owning your
own white guilt isn't cool yet.
Listen, I'd like to introduce
two of my new students.
This is coco.
Hey. How you doin'?
I'm well, thank you.
Nice to meet you.
And this is Julie.
- How you doin', Julie?
- Hi.
This right here, guys,
is the man. Coltrane.
He's a pillar of New
York's poetry community.
And he knows
professor Dixon pretty well.
Has she made your
life miserable, yet?
I see you know her very well.
Yes, very, very well.
She's my wife.
Well, I'm sorry to hear that.
Of all the street compliments
I get walking down the street
"Ga gless you, ma"
is my favorite.
So what's your thing?
She's a rapper that
doesn't like poetry.
Oh, come on.
Perfect. Perfect, coco.
Because you're gonna be a judge.
You can do it, you can do it. Don't
worry about it. You got taste?
All right, great.
Clip the keratin armor
until your nails are slick.
Keep each operation uniform.
Rank, file, top, sides.
Push back the enemy cuticles
with oil and lotion.
The chemical arsenal of a
Vietnamese manicurist named Chien.
A name that means "war."
Even oceans away, she carries
the war like a name.
She's bent over,
scrubbing your fingers.
The cuticle foliage remind her
of slaughtered soldiers, her dead
father, her sister buried alive.
"Tell me what color
you like."
let me see those scorecards.
We got an 8.5.
A 9.5.
I see a 10 over there.
We got a 7 right here.
Uh, okay.
People take this seriously.
Now perhaps I should
start this poem
by informing you
that I am bilingual.
That the queen's English that I
speak so eloquently before you now
is not my first language, no.
My grandmother
never used such diction
when she spoke me up in the welfare
line amongst the other dwellers.
Or when she called down to me from
the project window for dinner, no.
We spoke a more
Southern-fried English.
I am a be-hyphen-ginner and my
moves shall remain inadequate
until these hands can rip the
skull from out of my lips
and hand deliver you perfection.
Brown body collapses like
cardboard across the dance floor.
Sarcophagus unlocked.
Blades reveal,
blades reveal these bones.
My Swiss army skeleton.
Skull, Flathead screwdriver, finger
bone, switch shoulder, switchblade
switch rib cage keys cords cage.
The b-boy's spinal cord is key
to pandora's cardboard boom box.
Click and rewind. Click.
They scared o' you, black boy.
Do you see how they shiver
when you speak, young man?
How they speed up when you walk
behind them in your crown.
When you become a king and point
your notebooks at their temples.
When you rob them
of their knowledge.
When you carry your backpack
more than your basketball
and pull your jeans
up off your boxers.
When you put down your gloves
and stop fighting.
When you pick up your gloves
and keep fighting.
When you put a rod in your spine
and proclaim
you ain't ready to die.
Take your place
as the chosen people.
We have a 9.6.
And we got an 8.
We got a 10.
I want y'all to give it up
for Derek Morris, y'all.
Sounds of
apologetic hearts breaking
have been my life's anthem
since I was 16 years old.
Cultivating the platform for this
now 21 year old monument of a man
who's afraid of commitment.
I saw it first in my father.
When I realized
that he was afraid
of heights midair
of jumping the broom.
Attracted to women quick to
tie knots like boy scouts.
While simultaneously
making ones in the womb.
These were wavering women.
Willing to
compromise their morals
for the maintenance of morale.
Wailing women who viewed my father's
infidelity like a crucifixion.
I wonder how god felt
when he saw his own son die due
to a flaw within his own system.
Or how my father feels
when he sees his own son
strive to be nothing like him
so therefore
resembles his victims.
Do either of them live vicariously
through their children?
Or look away as they
go through hell and back.
Thank you.
Loved the poem,
hated his delivery.
Are we havin' fun
here tonight or what?
All right,
I wanna see some scores.
We got a 9.5.
We got a 9.
And we got a 6.5.
She took him out.
Oh, damn.
for the next two months
the winners of each weekly slam
will compete for a spot
on my 5 boros slam team.
Representing New York City
on labor day weekend
in the national competition.
He didn't mention
anything about that.
And tonight we have
our first finalist.
The winner of this weekly slam.
I want y'all to give it up
for Vanessa Hidary.
Peace, y'all.
Hey. I just wanted to say that
your poems are really good.
So, what, you gave me low
scores just to mess with me?
No, not at all, I just...
this may be a joke to you
but that 5 boros slam team
is important to me.
I just think your performance
could have been better.
And you know this
because you get up on a stage
and say whatever shit comes into
your mind and think that's poetry.
You know what? Save your constructive
bullshit for your homies.
My homies?
That went well.
I told ya
you could be a good judge.
But damn, his students usually
give him a good score.
Very nice, miss Ford, very nice.
Thank you.
You've got
the voice and the snaps.
A real crowd pleaser.
But is that really
all you have to say?
Really, Mr. Morris,
what was that?
That was a rap.
This nigga.
Miss Ford, please, care enough
to learn the difference.
It's poetry, not rap.
Poetry, not rap.
Miss Ford, I like the rap.
But I liked it better when
mos def did it 10 years ago.
We are going to keep this up
until you write a poem.
If everybody else
in here can get that,
I don't understand
why you can't.
What is wrong with you?
What is your problem?
Children, please, understand,
this university
already has your money.
I already have your money.
You may as well learn something.
Dixon's not here.
I came to see you.
I'm looking for some advice.
Yeah, well, my advice to you,
if you don't respect the
curriculum, drop the class.
I wasn't trying to
be disrespectful.
Poetry is just
harder than I thought.
But I'm gonna get it.
Oh, well, thank you so, so
much for sharing that with us.
Do you know what Dixon
meant when she said
I need to learn the difference
between a rap and a poem?
I mean, I thought I knew,
but I obviously don't.
Look, rap, when you break it down,
is 95% bragging and boasting.
Poetry is more about truth
and introspection.
Nas, biggie, Kendrick Lamar,
plenty of rappers are
truthful and introspective.
And that's exactly
why they stand out.
Put some real emotion into it.
Tell me how you really feel.
My feelings. Right.
'Cause that's what niggas is
tryin' to hear at the strip club?
My feelings?
I should burst into tears
in the middle of a battle.
Then maybe
I'll sell lots of records.
You're never
gonna sell any records
if you don't start putting more of
yourself into your music. Okay?
So buy a journal and a separate rhyme book.
Make sure you keep your notes.
You know what?
I'm good. Never mind.
Oh, so you're mad now?
Good. Use it.
Don't push it away.
I'm not mad.
You can't make me mad.
Okay then. So, whatever this not
mad thing you got going on,
write about it.
You should feel pain
when you write.
Listen coco, if your art doesn't
make you feel uncomfortable
then you're not going deep enough.
And that's plain and simple.
You really believe that shit?
I live that. Okay?
Mmm. I don't
work like that.
Rap is what I escape to.
that's your problem.
And that's the difference
between a rap and a poem.
Sea, water, body.
Fresh fish flakes in my mouth.
Love's words match love's touch.
How to forget me and do you.
Let's go, sweetheart.
You can't relate
to what I'm sayin'.
Everybody leave.
Coco got big dreams.
God, hear me, please.
Thanks for meeting me here.
Look, it doesn't
have to rhyme, you know.
Like, rhyming over a beat
is cool and things,
but you've gotta be really
careful with spoken word poetry.
It can sound a little bit cheesy.
Like Dr. Seuss.
And distracting you from what
you're really trying to say.
You just need to dig deeper.
Okay, let's try something.
Look out the window
and tell me what you see.
I see
the doo-doo brown river.
And some...
Rusty old bridge.
Some dirty projects.
And some big houses with a bunch
of rich people living in them.
You're looking,
but you're not seeing.
When I look out that window, I don't
see a dirty doo-doo brown river.
I see the agent of the sea.
That brings life with it.
That separates two worlds.
And that bridge?
That bridge is
the portal between them.
Where it allows people to grow
and come together and learn.
And this,
where we are right now,
this institution
houses great minds.
Scientists, lawyers,
professors, philanthropists,
and yes, poets.
This is where
rappers come to die.
So when I look at you...
I see a girl who is afraid to Pierce
that veil on a calculated cool.
What's inside might hurt her.
When you can go deep enough inside
yourself your work will be incredible.
And you know what
the best part of it all is?
It doesn't have to rhyme.
"Pick a topic you believe in.
"Something you're
passionate about..."
Miss coco Ford,
what do you have for us?
"Displacement of
low income residents.
"The poor folk, the lower
class, the impoverished.
"The blacks and the browns.
"We used to scare 'em. They
used to think us dangerous.
"Dropped heads, averted gazes.
Clutched bags.
"Walks quicken to a sprint
when we walk past.
"Or they saw us on the corner,
"god forbid we met eyes
or brushed shoulders.
"Before there was Williamsburg,
"it was the south side
and the north side.
"Before there was east
Williamsburg, it was Bushwick.
"Places they never even
thought of walking through
"before there were
white folk there.
"There were no trash cans
on our street corners.
"No yellow taxis
driving through.
"No bike racks and no dog parks.
"Even though we've always had
bikes and we always had dogs.
"And even though we some days get tired
too, we had no benches to rest on."
I'm amazed how amazing that was.
Well, check you out.
You nailed it.
'Cause all I heard
was, "mmm-hmm."
You kidding me? That was
the ultimate compliment.
She was digesting it.
You made her think and feel.
Excuse me.
Well, then,
I guess you broke me down.
You know what?
Why don't we go out
and celebrate or something?
Nothin' crazy, just...
A bit of food.
I got somethin' we can do.
Check out
a little bit of my world.
And what does that mean exactly?
Drop down to Killah hill 10304.
What you know about Killah hill?
Come on.
Now, get ready for
some real hip-hop.
This place is something else.
They call it the gym.
Whenever I need a workout, I come
out here and soak up all the flows.
Then afterwards,
we come up here and drink.
Do you drink?
Tip a glass or two.
Peace, peace, kid.
What's your name, man?
I'm Derek, bro.
Oh, Drake,
nice to meet you, bro.
Where you from, Derek?
Just outside London.
That explains why dude sounds
like Harry Potter. Right?
So, I mean what you into, Derek?
Uh... I'd like
to be a poet.
Nah, I mean, it...
Did I say something funny or...
Real fuckin' funny, man.
I thought most rappers
consider themselves poets.
Nah, we rap and shit. We ain't
with that poetry, y'all.
You're a funny dude.
What the fuck was that?
Man, yo, son, you know what, son?
Definitely drew his beard in.
He drew that shit in.
He painted that shit on.
I don't like it.
Here we go, here we go.
I think I can do that.
Yo, co, co, you ready to go?
Listen, mate, she's with me.
This your new man?
He's a friend.
Friend? Yeah good, good, good.
We all need friends.
Even poets.
Come on, we got work to
catch up on, let's go.
Listen, take your hands
off her, bro.
Chill out, Malik.
I'll see you tomorrow.
That's a real good idea,
I'll see you tomorrow.
Look at you.
I got somewhere
I wanna take you.
Back up off me, nigga. What
the fuck are you gonna do?
You better watch yourself, son.
What the fuck are you gonna do?
What you gonna do, huh?
Chill out, all right?
What, man, what?
What, what, what?
What, what, what?
What you doin' up on
the rock, Derek? Hey.
I just am out here...
Coco, this here's my boy
AJ and Hassan. 'Sup?
They were in my class last year.
Are you good?
I'm good, bro, I'm good, I'm good.
You good?
See you again. All right.
Take it easy.
Was you worried about me then?
How adorable.
No. I was about to
jump in for you.
Have to save your light skin.
I am Brooklyn, sometimes.
And she is queen.
And we, we're separated by the
cemetery of sentimentality.
Totally I would take on a
relation, she gets ill with us.
The thrill with us
is the break up to make up.
Two together define,
yet unrefined and pure.
So, when I'm at her crib, I leave
my timberlands at the door.
Mint tea and a spliff and let's
hold each other on the couch.
Tellin' each other that without,
without knowledge of self,
knowledge is nothing.
I'm Brooklyn, sometimes.
And she is queen.
And she reads a book to me
about a man's invisibility. Yes,
about a man's invisibility.
But to her I am visible
and perceived with vision.
You are full of
so many surprises.
What are you looking at?
You're freaking me out.
I look that bad?
You know, actually,
you don't look half bad.
It's nothing a little
plastic surgery can't fix.
No, really, I know a good surgeon.
Well, there's not one thing
I'd change about you.
Unless, maybe I could
get like some
brain surgery to,
like, get it taken out.
Shut up.
You must have been a real
brat when you was a kid.
I was shy. Very shy.
Yeah, okay, and I was
the prince of wales.
No, really. I was a runt
when I was a little kid.
And I got picked on a lot.
My dad was my only friend.
And I remember, we'd have
these little rap battles
and my favorite line of his was
"I'm the twinkle in your eye,
the tear in your cry,
"the reason for your why.
"So seek me.
"As you learn to love
yourself better, teach me."
And I remember when
he would say that,
I would just feel like the most
invincible little kid in the world.
But then he died.
And Malik sort of took over
as my rap partner.
Malik and those fools have
been the only men in my life.
Until now.
Thank you.
For inviting me tonight.
Thank you for
teaching me poetry.
I had to get out of there.
Was it good?
I can't explain it.
He was so...
That kind of freaked me out.
You're just used to being
ignored and neglected.
I like him for you.
You don't like him?
Suppose he is
the love of your life.
But how will you know
if you keep pushing him away?
Well, if he's the love
of my life,
then I don't
have to do anything.
It'll happen, right?
Speak of the devil.
I'm out of here.
Now look, I really don't want
things to be weird in class.
So can we just pretend
nothing happened?
It still needs to be
mixed properly. No.
Mixing won't make
the lyrics better.
And the song structure sucks.
We gotta dig deeper than this.
Let's just send it to Naveen
and see what he says.
We can't send this to Naveen.
We have one shot with his ear.
We don't wanna fuck that up.
So, we're just gonna keep
working until we get it right.
I'm done with this demo shit.
All right, we damn near broke.
We ain't battled in a month. We ain't
no snap crackle pop-ass rappers.
We ain't no fuckin' sellouts.
We need to stick to battles.
That's what we do.
No, that's what you do.
We are a group.
And we made a commitment
to finish this demo,
so that's what we're gonna do.
Reasons, play the beat, please.
Nah, nah, reason,
don't play shit.
Don't play a motherfuckin'
thing, all right?
Coco, you don't
run shit around here.
And you don't run shit around
here but your goddamn mouth.
Yeah? This mouth is gettin'
us all fuckin' paid.
Where? Obviously, not enough to
buy some fuckin' roach spray
to spray the booth out.
- Shut the fuck up!
- Fuck you.
Talk to her.
Fuck you.
Talk to her.
I'm sick o' y'all
bickerin', man, for real.
Can we please, please,
just focus for once?
Reasons is right, y'all.
Let's just focus
and get it done.
Come on.
The sonnet
depicts love as
both pain and pleasure.
As joy and anguish.
As disdain and devotion.
Relationships equate
a surrendering of one's self.
Well, let's start here
next week.
Hey, coco.
Wait up a minute.
So, uh...
How've you been?
I'm good.
Just been busy with my demo.
Yeah, me, too, but I've been
working on my new poem.
Still trying to get in
Coltrane's slam team.
Just haven't got
the moves quite down.
Don't switch up those moves.
Look, I'm sorry about
what I said the other day.
About what?
About pretending
nothing happened.
It's okay.
We both just had too much to drink
and, you know, shit happens.
It's cool, though.
I want to be more than friends.
Coco Ford, may I speak with
you for a moment, please?
My husband and I are... We're
having a salon on Saturday.
I'd like you to come.
Don't tell anyone.
But you can bring a date.
We have one shot to get our songs
right for this record label.
These guys just don't get it.
So, when is the showcase?
Labor day.
You comin'?
Is that an invite?
Look, listen, I have
an important question for you.
Is it a really
important question or
like, a dumb important question?
Course it's
an important question.
Fire away.
Why can't you tell me what you
and Dixon whispered about?
Hmm. What's it
worth to you?
Let me see.
Well, that's a start.
But just to let you know
that it wasn't about you.
Okay, so now you have secrets with
my boss, I see what's goin' on.
Fine. She invited me
to a salon.
So, is she gonna have a bunch of
hairdressers at her house or something?
Nah, nah, nah,
it's a poetry salon.
It's where people go and
showcase their work, their art.
Are you going?
I wasn't invited.
She probably forgot.
I wasn't invited
last year either.
Just be careful with Dixon.
She likes to toy with people.
I do feel like I'm finally starting
to make progress with her.
Well, I'm just saying
you should keep an eye out.
Well, she told me
to bring a date.
So I'm gonna bring you.
So you can watch out.
In case anyone
tries anything tricky.
Well, I'll be watchin'.
You look great tonight.
Thank you.
I think this is us.
You make me laugh.
Seriously, though
you are something.
You've made it.
How are you, Mrs. Dixon?
Thank you so much for inviting me here.
Your house is amazing.
I need to steal
her for a moment.
I know you won't mind.
Coco, you are
such a good writer.
You've advanced immeasurably
since your first assignment.
It's actually miraculous.
I've been working
like, really hard.
You have a voice.
The voice of a poet.
I just...
I just worry that
you're wasting your time
with a lover that'll
never love you back.
What? I don't understand.
You're a smart woman, coco.
Flirting with a ta
for a good grade?
That's so beneath you.
No. No, no, no.
It's not like that.
Okay, well, I'll...
I take it back.
Come on.
This is my most promising
student, coco Ford.
How you doin'? I remember
you from the other night.
Yeah, yeah.
You made your boy here lose.
Coltrane and his slams.
Everyone's always trying to impress
him so they can make the new team.
Well, baby, you know slam saw
where poetry was messin' up
and I just wanna make things right.
You know, it's a whole generation
of young poets like coco
who have been
raised on hip-hop
and brought up by poets like us.
This is our duty.
You do know how to
please young girls.
I'm going to read
in just a moment.
You should come outside.
What the fuck?
Accompanying me is the amazing and
beautiful Esperanza Spalding.
"I am the kind of
woman who loses things.
"The kind of woman who makes
room for a child she lost.
"I am the kind of woman
who keeps the porch light on.
"The kitchen light on.
"The bathroom light on.
"I am the kind of woman
who keeps the light on.
"During sex.
"During naptime.
"After dark.
"It is safe that way.
"I am the kind of woman
who needs to feel safe.
"The kind of woman who has
needs that no one can satisfy.
"I am never satisfied
with things god allows.
"I am the kind of woman
who sins for entertainment.
"Who says ugly things
about ugly people.
"Who says even uglier things
about prettier people
"who have been ugly to me.
"I am the kind of woman
who is ugly for fun.
"And god knows
I could be so much prettier.
"I am the kind of woman
"who uses her
vagina as a missile.
"Who will beg your pardon,
if you ask for it.
"Who will bust your head,
if you ask for it.
"Who will help you bust your
nut, if you ask for it.
"I am the kind of woman
who says things like,
"'don't ask me for shit.'
"but I will give up
anything if you need it.
"But be cautious.
"Because I lose things.
"Like children."
Does anyone else
want to share tonight?
I mean,
who wants to follow that?
Coco Ford.
Miss Ford,
you wanna share anything?
I don't have anything prepared.
Oh, come on.
Please, don't make me do this.
I don't like when
people tell me, "no."
Ladies and gentlemen,
this is my protege,
the very opinionated and
talented hip-hop poet,
coco Ford.
I hope you like this.
That's enough. Thank you.
Thank you so much.
Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you.
She is both
talented and opinionated.
Well, you can see
how important it is
for all of us to continue
to uplift the unenlightened.
Listen, we gotta
talk about this.
Nothing to
talk about. It's over.
I'm done.
Look, coco, wait.
Why would she
invite me out just to
embarrass me in front
of all of her friends?
Dixon likes to toy with people.
It's like her
twisted way of teaching.
She actually believes that
hard lessons are poetic.
I'm dropping the course.
You have a gift.
But if we're being perfectly
honest with ourselves.
What happened in there...
I know.
It was a rap, not a poem.
You said it, not me.
Come on, you.
Let's get out of here.
"As you learn to
love yourself better."
"Teach me.
"As you learn to
forgive yourself for failing."
"Teach me."
Ready? Switch.
"The way
the light shines through
"your window was
always brighter to me.
"The way the shadow falls on
your doorstep is more inviting.
"You've shaken my world."
"You've awoken
my dreams."
"You free my soul."
"You set my goals."
"Come run with me."
"Come run with me."
That's beautiful.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Read it again.
I've got a better idea.
Really blows my mind.
The way he expresses
love with his words?
Quite magical.
Oh, don't get that.
Si's finest
can't have you today.
I have to get it.
It's my mom.
Hi, mom.
Where are you?
At my friend Derek's house.
Honey, I need you.
Missy canceled.
You gotta come in.
I'll be there in 20.
Sorry. I gotta go to work.
Couldn't we just say no today?
No, I can't say no to my mom.
I'll come with you.
Thanks but no.
Stay and enjoy your weekend.
No, it's fine, I'm actually,
a specialty dishwasher person.
Coco, I think it's
time you realized that
I'm more than just
a poet with a pretty face.
And I make a fantastic Shepherd's
pie with Yorkshire pudding.
Gonna go check in with mom.
I don't care what you do.
I just need you to boil those
carrots until they are mush.
We do not have denture
insurance up in here.
Hi, mom.
Don't you "hi, mom" me.
Go put that apron on,
get to work.
And where were you last night?
And who is this new guy?
And why haven't I met him?
He's here.
What do you mean, "he here?"
You brought him here, girl?
I don't have time to entertain
the hip-hop nation.
He better not be out there smoking
dope with old man Johnson.
Mom, chill.
It's not even like that.
And besides,
he insisted on helping.
Helping? Yeah, right.
Helping to eat my food.
Do I need to remind you of
your priorities, young lady?
Where is he?
You guys all set? Fantastic.
Ladies, I'm gonna take
this dirty plate away.
I'll be back in two seconds
if you need anything else.
Guys, coffee?
Coffee. Coffee.
I've got you covered, okay?
Oh, he is a cutie.
I know that look.
Yes, I do.
Mom, you're such a creep.
I like him.
Girl, go help that boy.
I got this.
You wrote that shit, co?
I wrote it as a poem,
actually. Play it again.
What do you think?
That shit cool, man.
So you a poet now
like your boy Harry Potter?
No, I'm a rapper who wants to
better herself with poetry.
I've written more in the last
month than I have in years.
No, I ain't feeling it.
Or your whole new direction.
I mean, coco, it's cool
and all, but it doesn't
sound like any of
our other songs.
Well, this is where
I'm at right now, so...
I've been busting my ass writing
lyrics and here you come.
On some hallmark
greeting card type shit?
I've had to rap around your stupid
thug fantasy lyrics for years.
You could at least
just give me one song.
Save that shit for
a poetry reading.
Well, if I can't make
the music I want then
what's the point of
me being in the group?
Maybe you don't need
to be in the group.
This is bullshit.
Coke, he didn't mean that.
Yes, I did.
you didn't mean that shit.
You better believe I did.
Yo, reas, play my shit.
Play that.
Hi, it's Derek.
You've reached my voicemail.
It's finals time so
I've been pretty busy,
but please leave
a message after the beep.
Hey, Derek, it's me, coco. I know
you have a late class, but...
I just really need
to hear your voice right now,
I'm having a terrible day.
Call me back when
you get this. Bye.
Things are different now.
You what?
Things are just as
they've always been.
You're seriously?
Look, look, look.
I can't do this anymore.
Hey, don't go.
Don't mess up a good thing.
Coco! Coco, wait!
Coco, listen!
Let me explain to you. Please,
please stop! Just stop!
Just let me explain, okay?
I've been reading professor
Dixon's poetry since high school.
She's the whole reason
I came to America.
I sent her my writing and she
gave me a full scholarship.
Coco, I come from nothing.
No one ever did anything
like that for me before.
Listen, I knew it wasn't right.
But it started happening and...
I didn't know
how to make it stop.
No, coco! Listen, please.
Please. Please,
please, please.
I have one question.
What was gonna happen
if I didn't walk in?
You were supposed
to be different.
Okay, class.
Final exam starts now.
Coco? Coco. Where are you?
How'd you find me here?
Talked to your moms.
She said you had a lot on your mind.
So where else would you be?
Damn. Harry Potter really
got up in your head, huh?
Thinking about maybe we can
get the group back together?
Is that your way of
saying you're sorry?
Sorry for what?
For giving Naveen our mix demo?
You sent our demo to Naveen?
What did he say?
What did who say?
Well, he liked it. He liked the tracks.
He thinks we got potential.
Come on, what did he say?
Nah, he said,
Si's finest is headlining
the rough street records showcase.
We did it.
He loved our shit.
For real?
For real.
Right? That's crazy, right?
So you back, right?
You back in the group.
Yeah, yeah.
All right.
The only thing is...
He didn't accept
your solo track.
He said it was too
different, too slow.
It didn't fit.
Do you agree with him?
Fellas do.
We gotta stick
to who we are, co.
Si's finest, right?
All right.
Let's just go out
there and kill it then.
That's what I'm talking about.
Let's go kill it.
Coco! Coco! Coco!
Shut up. Stupid.
I have one question.
Did you really fail my class
as a way to punish me?
Because I thought
you were smarter than that.
I expected so much
more from you, coco.
Today, I emerge as a writer.
What angels dare to dream.
Every day tears fall from
my eyes is a day I survive.
Conquering the crumbling
mountains of self-doubt.
I am no longer a dream deferred.
My growth is inevitable.
Who I am requires you
to see past your ego.
And see me.
You can't grade me
like a piece of meat.
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.
For what it's worth,
Derek came into my office
to tell me that it was over.
I was the one hanging on.
He dropped out of
the master's program today.
He had one week left.
He said that he didn't want
to earn his degree this way.
I guess I was wrong then.
He did love you back.
That's poetry.
You ready for tonight?
Yeah. I just have to go pick
up my jacket at Malik's.
Okay now. Don't get nervous and
start talking too fast, all right?
Like you do when you get
nervous, you talk fast.
See, you got this.
You are so great at it.
For you, baby,
this is like breathing
so don't put any extra pressure
on yourself, all right?
Are you okay, mom?
Lord, I'm a wreck.
I just want you to know that no
matter what happens tonight,
baby, I am so proud of you.
Thanks, mom.
Just want you to
know that I'm going to
finish my semester
and get my accounting degree.
I've still got plan b in the works.
I haven't forgotten about it.
To hell with plan b.
Tonight, I want you to go out
there and make plan a happen.
I wanna thank
everyone for supporting
slam poetry and
the 5 boros team.
Tonight, we're selecting
four people.
These are the best
of New York City.
Coco. Hey, coco.
Hey, Naveen.
Thanks so much for
letting us do this.
No, I can't wait to
see your solo song tonight.
We're not performing the solo song.
Wait, what?
Malik and reasons and Matt
said that you guys
didn't like the solo song,
so we're just not gonna do it.
That's the only song
that Richard and I even liked.
We were willing to
tolerate the other songs,
but I was very clear with Malik
and the boys about this.
I need you, okay?
Fucking liar.
No one gives
a damn about Naveen,
what he thinks or
what Richard thinks.
I think they're
wrong since day one.
They been wrong the whole time.
You all knew about this.
Your songs just
don't fit, all right?
They're not who we are.
And you a part of us.
You really think
rough street records
is gonna give us
a second chance?
Look, they're just trying
to make money off us.
They charging $20,
$30 to get in here.
And we ain't even getting paid.
We're gonna go out there and
we're gonna make so much noise,
all of them, everybody gonna
be wanting to sign us.
All right,
and gonna do it our way.
Si's finest way.
From the beginning.
Let's do this.
Don't fucking touch me.
Come on.
You okay?
What up, yo?
How y'all doing?
And we can't forget the female
of the group. Beautiful.
This is a coco Ford song that
you almost didn't hear tonight.
Coming to you
from across the waters.
All the way from
London, England.
You all make some noise.
For Derek Morris.
Thank you.
She does to me
what winter does to the trees.
She strips me bare,
naked and empty.
I laugh to myself, because...
I can't sing, it's just...
She makes me want
to try and harmonize.
Like I've got no worries
bothering me tomorrow.
Like I've got no dirty clothes
hamper full of yesterdays...
Stinking up what
future is left in me.
But I...
I really ain't no Saint.
Never felt love's true bliss.
A disciple of my father, I learned
to love with clenched fists.
I learned to love like
reading braille on skin.
Tracing the insecurities
of women
through the palms
of their hands.
But with her...
It was different.
See, she was in every
single word I wrote.
She walked a poet's refrain.
Spoke a sweet soliloquy.
But I recognize the lack
of trust in my own heart.
Because only a fool won't
accept the nourishment
that's right before their eyes.
Instead he will starve.
I look at her and
every time she smiles,
it reminds me of everything
I stole from myself.
Every joy...
Every joy I never had
the courage to taste.
As you learn to
love yourself better...
Teach me.
As you learn to forgive
yourself for failing...
Teach me.
As you learn to accept
strength and vulnerability...
Teach me.
Some days I miss
the burn of a love lost.
Or maybe...
Just maybe.
I never found true love.
Until right now.
I love you, coco.
Like, I loved you.
Derek Morris.
Welcome to the 5 boros team.