[A note before the jump: This piece does not aim to downplay or attempt to erase the importance and potency of Benny’s opening grande entrance. Tana Talk 3 is a masterful work of vivid Imagery, wordplay, and storytelling from a man bursting through the concrete, into the rose, and into one of the most lethal emcees holding the mic right now. I encourage all to take a walk with Benny through his life in Buffalo with Tana Talk 3.]
If one were to assess the evolution of rapping, it would be unwise to exclude and depreciate the influence and blueprint laid by The Last Poets. Commemorating what would have been Malcolm X’s 43rd Birthday, The Last poets were formed in Marcus Garvey Park, East Harlem, on May 10, 1968. Their creation of a free, jazz-like way of conveying spoken word poetry and gift of gab would go on to influence some of the greatest emcees to touch the mic. Two years following their commemorative performance, the Last Poets released what would be their self tilted, debut album. Revolutionary, nuanced, introspective, and vitriolic, The Last Poets created a body of work that spoke truth to power, and encapsulated The Black Power movement, following the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
Abiodun Oyewole, Umar Bin Hassan, and Baba Donn Babatunde not only laid down the blueprint for emcees to use words with wit and literary prowess, but it was their social awareness that injected Hip Hop with a spirit of social protest and commentary that we so often hear in the music today.
The relationship between Spoken Word Poetry and Hip Hop is a long formed bond, and when the two meet they fit as if they were one and the same. Through them one witnesses how Black art is essentially a continuum that evolves, diverges, and travels many different paths and takes a plethora of forms.
Keisha Plum’s spoken word poetry for this track, and her many other Griselda Records contributions, continues the legacy of seamlessness that results from spoken word artists pairing themselves with Hip Hop. This powerful connection could be felt when “we Big Rube kicked his southern spoken word on intros and interludes for his team The Dungeon Family (Organized Noize, OutKast, and Goodie Mob). Out of Philadelphia, Ursula Rucker teamed up with The Roots, on numerous occasions, to deliver poetry that felt vulnerable, mystic, wounded, and scathing. Her presence and the unique rhythm to her spoken word is so captivating leaving listeners in a state of shock and awe. Saul Williams, out of New York, also got his start as a spoken word artist but has since then successfully released 6 albums, became published as a writer, has acted for various shows and musicals, and is highly respected in the Hip Hop community.
Miss Plum presents a breath of fresh air when she hops on a track with one of her brothers from Griselda. Her illustrative and graphic spoken word paired with a serene, yet reminiscent, tone on Babs lures you all the way in, and leaves you yearning for more of what she’s cooking. Her presence comes and goes like a thief in the night on Griselda projects, but she is set to start putting out her own music sometime this year. In the meantime, let Keisha Plum introduce you to her home town, Buffalo, New York.
You can learn more about Keisha Plum here:
About The Curator - KA II
I was raised in a community that believes in and practices the act of love, spirituality, understanding, and openness. These beliefs and practices are my foundation in this life and continue to drive my pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, and freedom. I also come from a place where the gift of rhythm and movement are interwoven into each other and into the fabric of life. It is never one without the other.
Music and Dance are not just things we do and enjoy. They are a necessity. In times of joy we dance, in times of triumph we turn the music up a little louder, in times of stress and unbalance we close our eyes and dance. It is how we feel our emotions and what ignites our creativity, intellectual abilities, and the way we see the world. Without the two, life would have no color, art, love, or culture.
Music and movement have always been the guiding light of creativity and the master teacher, therefore I aim to share how they elevate my mind, heart, and soul to think wider and to think with compassion, wit, and intellect. I hope you enjoy the content. Peace