Friday, October 2, 2009

Sonnets to Ebonics

Finally got my hands on Alex Hinton's homohop documentary Pick Up the Mic. The performers are a mix, from in-your-face outrageous egos to serious poets. Two of the most wide-ranging interviews are with Juba Kalamka and Tim'm T. West of the now-defunct San Francisco hip-hop group DDC. Kalamka and West use socially progressive hip-hop, filtered through the gospel/Black Arts/ jazzoetry/blues/Langston Hughes tradition, to create a complex critique of race, queerness, masculinity and hip-hop.

The result is fantastic poetry and performance. A sample:

"I am
I am a blackman
I am a blackman you scared to clap for
I am a blackman who likes metaphor
I am a blackman who's antiwar
I am I
and the blackman that I am is quite sure
I am not pure
African fruits mixed with Cherokee juice
I am a black man with red clay roots
Arkansas I am
blackman speaking my I am truth
I am not trying to recruit
youth for nothing but revolution
solutions to overstand the I am
they be, unlike me
I am a man, and I am as unique
as you
I am the I who will stand for my truth
I am a blackman educating our youth
Sonnets to Ebonics
Othello in the East O
I am, the sum total of your hope
I am a blackman who sometime can't cope
with haters who hate on knowledge
I am a blackman who says go to college
ignorance should be abolished
but the greatest teacher is a preacher
whose mirror smiles and says to him ..."

Read the rest of the poem here. And see a video of the DD song "For Colored Boys," which brings together their musical and poetic style, here.

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