Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Footage from #YesYesYes: An Evening of Poems and Songs About Consent and Healthy Sexuality (Ongoing)
It was a really beautiful event, and I'm happy to say that Line Break Media was able to film almost all of it. I will be posting new videos on my YouTube page about once per week, and then updating this post as they go live. If you see anything that resonates with you, feel free to share it, and/or this whole page. I think it's important to document this kind of work.
Finally, I tried to compile a bunch of OTHER poems about consent, plus some links and resources for anyone who wants to read more!
Here are the poems that are up so far:
Friday, January 22, 2016
Sifu Hotman's "MATCHES" Now Available on 7" Vinyl! Plus a Remix of Our Song "Embrace the Sun" Featuring Tall Paul
If you don't know, SIFU HOTMAN is a side project featuring me, Dem Atlas, and Rube. We put out an album in 2014, while I was between projects and also kind of right before Dem signed to Rhymesayers. Luckily, it didn't fall between the cracks; our song "Matches" got featured on BBC Radio 6, and then as the "weather" on an episode of the wildly popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale, leading a whole bunch of people to discover the project.
Incidentally, "Matches" might also be my favorite song I've ever been part of, so it's been really beautiful to see so many people from around the world connect to it. The Sifu Hotman album is general just turned out so fresh; we're all known for doing weirder, outside-the-box stuff, so a whole project of boom bap throwback hip hop and punchlines is something I'm really proud of and happy we got to put out. And Rube, our producer and DJ, ALSO screen-printed all of the sleeves. They're gorgeous.
You can get the vinyl through our Bandcamp page. If you're in Europe, it might be cheaper to buy it through the UK label that's putting it out: AE Productions. Quick note-- it is the radio edit on the single, in case that impacts whether or not you want it.
The single also features an exclusive remix of our song "Embrace the Sun" produced by MR. FANTASTIC and featuring a knockout guest verse from TALL PAUL. Been wanting to work with him for a minute, and his verse on this song is just bonkers. Even if you're not a vinyl head, you can still download this track (plus the instrumentals, and an a capella for any DJs out there)! Here's the new remix:
Sunday, January 03, 2016
New Video for My Poem "Handshakes," the #BeHeard16 Kickoff, Plus a Brand-New Poem: "Police Make the Best Poets"
Thanks to Patrick Pegg, I finally have a really good video version of a poem that I've been performing for years now-- "Handshakes." This was shot in front of a sold-out audience at our second annual "Page.Stage.Engage" show at the U of MN's Whole Music Club. We got a ton of footage from that show-- of me, Tish Jones, and various Be Heard MN youth poets, and it'll all be posted over the next few months.
I'll include the full text at the bottom of this post (something I'm going to be better about in 2016-- working on adding the text to all of my videos). It's not the deepest or most poetically challenging thing I've ever written, but it stays in my arsenal because it's an approachable entry point to some deeper discussions about identity, and because on a poetic level, it does the "talk about something big by talking about something small" thing that some of my favorite poetry does.
In other poetry news, I hope everyone knows about the 2016 Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series! It really is kind of the coolest thing that happens all year in the Twin Cities, and if you haven't ever witnessed it, this year will be a great time to check it out. Prelims start in January. If you're 13-19 years old, you can actually sign up. But if you're not, I really want people to consider just showing up as audience members. These are some of the most incredible writers and performance artists in the state, youth or otherwise, and deserve your support.
Finally, here's a brand new poem I wrote after the Tamir Rice grand jury decision. I don't often post my poetry as text, but it seemed more appropriate than video for this one. Everyone needs to know about this case, and I'd also point people toward a local connection: the MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change anti-grand jury petition here. The ins-and-outs of the legal system aren't always the most attractive thing to talk about or organize around, but they are absolutely how racism continues to live and breathe in our communities, and knowing about them (and organizing to change them) is vital. This particular poem adds a media literacy lens, critiquing how police violence is so often presented by police and media as "isolated incidents" as opposed to trends and cultures, and the impact that this has on public opinion.
As always, feel free to share any or all of this with your networks. Every Facebook post, Tweet, Tumblr post, etc. is very much appreciated. Much more is on the way! Here's the full text of "Handshakes:"
Sunday, December 27, 2015
AKA "stuff I did while not writing papers or being in class this year." Check out previous years here: 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014
1. Performances: United Nations, Big Shows, College Gigs
Thought I'd kick this year-in-review off with my brand new booking reel, courtesy of PCP. That was the major theme this year, after all: I performed and/or spoke at 25 different colleges and universities all over the country, and 2016 should see even more of that. I also got a chance to perform at the United Nations (read the recap here), co-keynote the Building Bridges Conference with Jessica Valenti, and perform at the Equilibrium SuperShow with Patricia Smith (and two dozen other incredible poets). As for stuff I had more of a hand in organizing, we sold out the U of MN's Whole Music Club for the second year in a row with our "Page.Stage.Engage" event, and kicked off a brand new concert series: #YesYesYes: a show devoted to consent and healthy sexuality. Endless thanks to the people who show up to these things.
2. Sifu Hotman's "Matches" Featured on Welcome to Night Vale
This was unexpected, but also very cool. I actually hadn't heard of what I now know is the biggest podcast in the world until a friend suggested I submit music. They picked up the song, and the result was a deluge of people checking out our music who would have otherwise probably never heard of us. If you don't know Sifu Hotman, it's a hip hop trio featuring me, Dem Atlas, and producer/DJ Rube. Check out our album here.
3. A Love Song, A Death Rattle, A Battle Cry
A compilation album of new songs, remixes, remastered tracks, and basically what I think is all of my best material up until this point, the idea of this album is that it's an entry point for anyone interested in my work. Drawing from Guante & Big Cats, A Loud Heart, Sifu Hotman, and random solo songs, it collects a ton of songs that I'm really proud of.
It also features guest appearances from Dem Atlas, Chastity Brown, Kristoff Krane and more. On top of that, it's a promo, so you can download it for FREE.
4. New Poem Videos
I actually recorded a ton of new videos this year, but most of them are slated for a 2016 release. Still, here are a few new ones courtesy of Button Poetry. The first one is a new poem about consent; I shared a few further thoughts on this one here.
Here's a new video for an older poem of mine, "Starfish." I also wrote up a few thoughts on this one.
5. New Music
First, one of my favorite new tracks; produced by Ganzobean; video by Adam J. Dunn:
Longtime friend and collaborator See More Perspective let me hop on this Star Wars-themed song. We actually performed a version of this at Soundset way back in '09, so it's great to finally be releasing something, especially right as Ep.7 is hitting theaters.
Two singles from the upcoming Guante & Katrah-Quey album, "Post-Post-Race."
A guest verse: me, Crescent Moon (of Kill the Vultures, Mixed Blood Majority), & Judah Boi:
Finally, another guest verse: here's Jared Paul, me and Ceschi on a song from Jared's album:
5. TruArtSpeaks, New Writing, and Other Stuff
A huge part of my schedule this year was working with TruArtSpeaks-- in-school residencies, hosting the open mic, helping to facilitate the Youth Advisory Board and various workshops, etc. If you're into hip hop, spoken word, youth power and social justice, you should know about that organization (including two things on the immediate horizon: the "Write to Be Heard" youth spoken word workshops over winter break, and the start of the 2016 Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam series in January).
Here are a few things I wrote this year. It isn't all here, but I wrote a lot this year... actually wrote a whole book, but I'm not thinking about a release for that until 2016. Stay tuned. In the meantime:
- A Framework For How I Think About Social Media Supporting Social Movements + Links to #BaltimoreUprising Info
- Spoken-Word Tips and Tactics Part 4: Diving In and Getting Involved with Spoken-Word as a Culture
- Maybe Progressives Are Too Critical of Each Other, or Maybe You're Just Not Used to Being Criticized
- "A Pragmatist's Guide to Revolution (Graham O'Brien Remix)" Plus Links About the Effectiveness of Protest
- Protesting the Band "Viet Cong": Another Example of How Organizing Around "Little Things" Impacts the Larger Culture
6. Looking Ahead to 2016
I have one semester of grad school left. Will be hitting the road this spring anyway, but then hitting it doubly hard in the Fall. If you want to bring me to your school or city, get in touch.
We'll be releasing a VINYL SINGLE of the Sifu Hotman song "Matches" pretty soon too. It's maybe my favorite song I've ever written, so I'm glad it's getting the vinyl treatment. Also, the b-side is a Mr. Fantastic remix of our song "Embrace the Sun" featuring a new guest verse from Tall Paul, and he blacks out on it. Really excited for people to hear it.
The new album, Guante & Katrah-Quey's "POST-POST-RACE" is being mixed now and should be released in early 2016. It's all songs about race and racism. Yeah. More on that soon.
Hoping to release the book in 2016 too. It's done; just figuring out the timing/logistics.
Finally, I have a lot of new videos scheduled for 2016 release, including some of my own work (brand new poems plus re-recordings of some old ones) and some other people's work that I'll be hosting on my YouTube page. As always, the shares, the re-posts, the word-of-mouth-- all of that is greatly appreciated. Thanks again for the support.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
If you don't know, See More Perspective is the best. We've been working together for years, and actually wrote and recorded this song a pretty long time ago. I remember performing some version of it at Soundset way back in '09.
His brother Nye produced it (one of my favorite beats ever, by the way), and I knew that he had been working on a video for it as well. I just never thought the video would just happen to be done the same week as the premier of Episode 7. Good timing.
Check out everything on See More's bandcamp page as well; his last album in particular is pretty incredible, and he has a new one coming soon.
Monday, December 07, 2015
"One Bad Cop" is the second single from the upcoming album “Post-Post-Race,” the debut collaboration from Twin Cities MC/poet Guante and producer Katrah-Quey. Featuring quotable guest verses from G.P. Jacob and Tish Jones, the song tackles not just police brutality in general, but one very specific element of it: how so much of the conversation in media focuses on the specific details of each individual case, while failing to make connections to the broader trends of police violence, institutional racism, and mass incarceration. Like the duo's first single, "White People on Twitter," this song is about digging deeper and striving to think critically-- especially important considering the current #justice4jamar protests growing in the artists' backyard, Minneapolis.
Music: Katrah-Quey: @kqbeats
Words: G.P. Jacob: @GP_Jacob | Guante: @elguante | Tish Jones: @TheTishJones
Mixing: Katrah-Quey and Graham O'Brien
The whole album is on its way; as things generally go, it's taking longer than the original plan. But it'll be worth it. There's a song on there with Jayanthi Kyle that might be one of the best songs I've been part of. A bunch of other tracks we're excited to share too. We're in the mixing/mastering phase, so we're probably looking at a January/February release. But as always, it's done when it's done.
The album delay is one of the reasons we wanted to release another single. Another reason, however, is the context. The #justice4jamar protests and #4thprecinctshutdown were and are watershed moments in the movement for racial justice here in the Twin Cities. So regardless of whether you listen to the song, here are some links you should know about (as always, these links aren't about saying that these are the only organizations or entities involved; just good places to start to get more info):
- Black Lives Matter Minneapolis: probably the best place to go for ongoing updates and action steps right now.
- MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change: another good resource for people looking to get plugged in to this and other movements.
- Waleed Shahid at Dissent Magazine: "How is Black Lives Matter Winning?"
- Keno Evol at Gazillion Strong: "4thPrecinctShutDown: A Statement on Magic and Resistance"
- A few photos (and commentary) that I took at the occupation site
- A million other links and resources; I've tried to keep up on my Twitter, but your best bet is probably a mix of the organizations linked to here, plus the two hashtags, plus any other on-the-ground activists you find through them. Stay informed.
Finally, one last link: this will be my last show of 2015: Sunday, December 13 at the 7th St. Entry for Aym Telos' album release party; w/ Sarah White, EJ and more!
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
As always, yeah, being one of the final six poets who go on to represent Minnesota at Brave New Voices is great-- but the slam series is so much bigger than that. It's an opportunity to share your work, to plug into this incredible community, and BUILD with people from all over the state.
The full schedule and registration form are here. Remember, you can compete in as many prelims as you want, so signing up for the first or second of the five is a good tactical move. Just something to consider.
ALSO, if you have any interest in working with me, I'll be facilitating a special three-day intensive spoken-word workshop over winter break! December 28, 29, and 30th at the MPLS Central Library's Mark E. Johnson Conference Room. 2-4pm each day. These are FREE and open to anyone between the ages of 13 and 19, no matter how much/little experience you have.