From battles to ‘Boondocks’; a Metaphor for success

by Ryan Snyder

From battles to ‘Boondocks’; a Metaphor for success

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a television program as controversial, yet pointed in its commentary as the Cartoon Network’s late-night animated series “The Boondocks.” What started as a syndicated comic strip about two young African-American boys transplanted from Chicago’s South Side to a predominantly white neighborhood has erupted into one of the funniest, edgiest programs on a lineup noted for its abstract humor. The show revolves around Huey, 10, and Riley, 8, and their acerbic criticism of race relations and cultural conflict in their new neighborhood. It’s smart, witty and a tad offensive, but that’s why it airs well past the kiddies’ bedtime. But just as notable to the show’s ever-expanding fan base as the raciallycharged comedy is its soundtrack. “The Boondocks” features the most progressive hip hop that you’ll find on television. You won’t find the music on mainstream radio or TV — most of the artists and their fans prefer it that way because, frankly, it’s just too intelligent for mass consumption. The show aims for the headphone jams over the club favorites, whether they’re used as intros, outros or impromptu freestyles by the two protagonists. What many Triad fans may not realize, however, is that the lyrical and creative voice behind young Riley’s recent musical motives resides right here in Greensboro. Rapper Jabril Battle, better known as Metaphor the Great, ( metaphorthegreat) has provided the juice to some of the most memorable scenes in the show’s second season, which also earned him a feature spot on its official mixtapes, Hip Hop Docktrine 2 (The Saga Continues) [Thugnificent Edition]. Remember the scene in “Stinkmeaner Strikes Back” when the possessed Tom DuBois attacked Granddad and the boys? That was a Metaphor rhyme playing on top. Remember when Riley got beat

down by the bully Butch Magnus over his chain? Yet another Metaphor joint. But it wasn’t easy for the Ninth Floor (www. crew member and rugged street battler from New Jersey to get the coveted “Boondocks” spot. Metaphor was solicited for material during the show’s first season, but his offering didn’t find its way into the mix. Fortunately, show producer Carl Jones got back in touch with Metaphor in time for Season Two with another shot at having his work featured. “I was getting ready to leave for truckdriving school right when the call came in,” Metaphor said. “If I left, I wouldn’t have been able to record for the mixtapes and even then there was no guarantee for a spot.” Metaphor was up against several big names in the industry for a spot on the soundtrack, but it was his ability to become embroiled in the character that he wrote for that landed him on the mixtapes. He credits his time spent writing intros for various radio personalities on 102 JAMZ for giving him the ability to step outside of his own creative sphere of influence and into Riley’s persona. Being a big part of such a popular series has certainly had a profound effect on Metaphor’s hip-hop career. His music has generated substantial buzz on underground music sites, with user comments being extremely favorable. Being the gracious artist that he is, he even sends them individual messages to thank them for their support. “Half the time, they don’t even believe it’s me,” he added. “It’s mind-blowing. It’s something you really need as a starving artist.” He first discovered his web popularity after Jones suggested that he Google his own name. Using a computer that he had never been on, his name began to auto-fill into the search engine’s search bar and he then realized how profoundly his career had been impacted by his association with “The Boondocks.” “It motivates me, because sometimes I have to look at stuff like that just to get through the day,” he said. “When you’ve been doing the same thing for a while, you have to remind yourself why you’re doing it.” Aside from his music’s inclusion in the upcoming third season of “The Boondocks,” look for Metaphor’s collaboration with Rev Run of Run- DMC on his product line RunAthletics. Metaphor produced an entire LP of original work to compliment the line’s upcoming newest sneaker addition, Hoodiez. The sneaker will tie into an animated series described as “Fat Albert meets urban America 2009,” with Metaphor providing the lyrical voice for a character called Scraps. Kadeem Hardison, who’s best known for playing Dwayne Wayne on “A Different World,” provides the character’s normal speaking voice. File that one under “Where Are They Now?”