This is so great, guys. Thanks for having me. Where do I go, right here behind the emcee? Oh, ok, behind and off to the left a bit, great. Let me know when you guys want to drop the beat—or are we kicking the beat today? Anyway, I’ll be behind and off to the left a bit here. Who are we waiting for? That many? Wow, this is going to be wild. So, we’re all just going to stand behind the emcee as he’s spitting—or is he ripping today? Well, no, I understand I won’t be behind, per se. OK, so all these guys behind, around, and encircling the emcee—a veritable phalanx! We’re going to make this guy look so tough. I can’t wait.

Do you guys want to see what I’ve been working on? Basically, I stand behind the emcee—no, I know, off to the side a bit—and I’ll just start bopping along, feeling it. Real organic. My arms? Those are crossed. Believe it. OK, now let’s say the rhyming is particularly stylized today, and the wordplay is both cutting and fluid? Well, I am prepared to crack a smile, even avert my gaze ever so slightly. Then I’ll get real dead-eyed, almost transfixed—not dissimilar to a man of common desperation, peering down into the inky abyss of social hypocrisy and lapsed expectations characteristic of our modern existence—and I stare straight through the camera. And I mean straight through. My sloe eyes giving nothing away, evacuating the room’s air, draping a hopeless shade over all beasts—some seized with visions of their own end, others wracked with unslakable thirst, others still just a bit put out. If the beat is real heady, I have the latitude to throw a bit of a lean into the production. I know, it’s irreverent, but I think it plays.

I can’t wait to get moving. Oh, we’re starting? Yes, excellent, I’m ready. OK, right here behind the emcee. Sorry, off to the left a bit. OK. Yes, wow, this is incredible. Great beat today. OK, starting off pretty sedately, some free-form shuffling, real easy. Some standard nodding, good, good. Oh, lovely, I see some of you are incorporating the lateral nod, prevalent in Eastern provinces? I like it. OK, guys, looks like we’re going to pick it up now! Ready? Whoa, whoa, whoa. What is this guy behind the emcee doing!? The one-hand beard-stroke? Jesus! Pull it back, friend. This isn’t a regional production of Our Town.

Coming into the next verse, now. Our emcee has just laced into his detractors! Prime placement of that soft cackle, friend—finger on the pulse, there. Maybe a part maudlin on the upswing, but as Turnus declaims: Fortune favors the bold. That was immediately before he’s trampled by the Trojans, of course.

To my fellow in the severe-brimmed cap: Let’s pick it up. I’ve seen you around the circuit, plying your wares and making a name for yourself, and I know you’re capable of more. Your contribution at last year’s Ca$h Drawer symposium was engaging, if a bit wanting in gravitas. Embrace the unknown! Strike out into the darkness and grab that golden ring! Consider a more form-fitting T-shirt.

Let’s tighten this thing up, what do you say, fellows? I’ll just sidle over behind our emcee here. No, I know I’m not Jerome Robbins. It’s only I thought this kind of enterprise nurtured an open forum. Free exchange of ideas and that. For example, the fellow toward the front: you’ve exhausted your lips, friend. See how I do it. I give just a hint of a dab, a wisp — like the feint of a long-gone lover, come to visit you in the night and maraud your uneasy sleep, then dissolve into the cold black waters of Lethe. See how I rub my palms here, as well.

I’ll let you in on a bit of a pro-secret: I apply an excessive amount of below-cost petroleum jelly immediately prior to the shoot, which not just salves the cracked, craggy caverns of my tired palms—the only things more tattered than the stale waste of my heart—but also preserves authenticity and depth of feeling—attributes you all seem to have neglected at home today! Sorry, I know, yes. I’ll let you have at it. I’ll just be here behind the emcee, if you need anything.