$ex Machine

by Lyla June Johnston, ’12

I wrote this poem on an airplane a few years ago. It’s been sitting in my notebook for a long time. I took it out the other day and decided I wanted to make a hip-hop track of it. I wanted to reclaim hip-hop as the healing force it was born to be by making it flashy, sexy and truthful. It’s main message is that we are not the sex slaves that pop music tells us we are, we are human beings that deserve love and respect.

How it developed was pretty interesting. I found the beat to go beneath it from the creative commons search on soundcloud.com. It was produced by a man in Sweden whom I’ve never met who goes by the name of “Dr. Mess.” I asked him if I could overlay some lyrics on it and he was fine with it. This is the beauty of making art for the people, not for the profit, under creative commons license as Dr. Mess does. The greed and fear that comes with copyrighting is relinquished and so we can collaborate more freely, even from across the ocean. All the music and poetry I make is creative commons license which allows you to reserve the rights you want to while still giving space for it to be shared. For my licensing, I allow people to distribute, remix and sample my work as long as it is not for commercial purposes. I do this because I don’t believe it is “my art.” I believe it comes from the muses above and was meant to be a gift for all. So I make it part of the public domain. In doing so, people often take my poetry and lay a beautiful beat beneath it and it goes farther, to wider circles.

You don’t need a fancy car to get the get the girl of your dreams
You don’t need a dollar bill to give a girl what she needs
Now, It’s about time we grow into those baggy jeans
All y’all know just exactly what I mean.

They told you chase that rainbow son,
Get the gold in the pot.
When everything you’re looking for
you’ve already got.

And pockets full of cash.
Now, boy can’t you see true love is worth more than that.

Cuz you got brand new kicks
but you still ain’t got no chick
You got designer brands
but just drunken one night stands

Didn’t they ever tell us that money can’t buy it.
Now that is the law g’wan try to defy it.

Hypnotized — got his eyes on her thighs.
Hypnotized — dollar signs in her eyes.
She’ll let you take her home for some whiskey on ice.
He’ll throw you a bone if you tell him pretty lies.

This is for the fellas this is for the chicks
who were taught to treat their bodies like casino chips.
This is for the fellas this is for the ladies
who were never taught that are beautiful and sacred!

Oh oh baby, I don’t care
about your cash flow.
I just want to know oh
could you be, could you be loved?

You don’t need to buy me drinks at the bar
in order to show me you are a superstar.
You don’t need to take me shopping in the mall,
x-ray vision I can see through it all.
So take off that mask and show me who you are.
Show me your skin and show me your scars.
I don’t give a f@#* if you got a credit card.
I see the superstar that you already are.

This is it! Ice cold baby!
It’s called evolution.
My men and my women
we keep marching
straight into the Garden of Eden.


Lyla is a recent Stanford graduate who works to harness her love for music, poetry and art to heal and unite the People. She is a descendent of the Diné (Navajo) indigenous society of the southwestern United States and strives to integrate the cultural knowledge of her people into the art she shares with all. She considers each poem and song to be a prayer for the restoration of Heaven on Earth. She currently lives in Florence, Alabama where she takes care of horses by day and makes music in the studio by night. 

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2 thoughts on “$ex Machine

  1. Anonymous says:


  2. Great poem! says:

    Great poem. I’m glad to know that there are others out there that feel that the hookup culture promotes nothing of substance or meaning–it’s fake. Showing real character leads to real, meaningful relationships.

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