Tuesday, March 31, 2009

voting for the MN Urban Griots Awards now open

Below is the full press release, but the basics is just that this award show has a judges' award and a people's award. If you'd like to vote in the people's award, pep the link. More than anything, though, just come; it's going to be a great show.


Quick Link to the Urban Griots Awards Voting Ballot: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/118841/urbangriotsawardsvoting

Quick Link to the Urban Griots Awards Show at the Varsity:
- Myspace: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=60157230&blogId=480280
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/business/dashboard/?ref=sb#/event.php?eid=64617956274&ref=mf

You may have heard the buzz about the Urban Griots Awards, or the ads on KMOJ + KFAI radio stations. An awards show celebrating the spoken word community in Minnesota and beyond, and presenting the first MN Spoken Word Hall of Fame, the Urban Griots Awards will be taking place on April 3rd at the Varsity Theater. With a packed evening of performers, and over 30 categories presented, the Awards ceremony will be a night not to miss.

To bring you this celebration, we sent over 175 nomination forms to folks in the spoken word and spoken word related communities––locally, nationally and globally––to determine the finalists in each category. The categories cover the breadth of the spoken word community in Minnesota, including some national categories. They not only celebrate artists but also events, community organizers, artist activists, producers, and creative work ranging from albums to theatre productions to radio shows to books released by spoken word artists. Plus we honor those that have laid the foundation for the community and art form today with the MN Spoken Word Hall of Fame. The project is supported by noted and respected artists in the community from Jessica Care Moore, Amiri Baraka, J. Otis Powell!, Taalam Acey, Carolyn Holbrook, David Mura, Kevin Coval, and others.

With the Urban Griots Awards we are doing something a little different, we are presenting two awards per category. There will be a Peoples Award and a Judges Award. Also we are providing samples and excerpts of work of nominated artists, and artistic work, for as many categories as we can, right in the voting ballot. We have also included, where possible, information about the artists, including highlights and special recognition, and artistic information and statements from the artists themselves, about their work or the project. This way voters can become familiar with as many of the nominated artists and work as possible, so they can make a more informed decision about each of the categories. We also hope that you will be introduced to an artist or a work that you may not be familiar with.

For the Judges Award we have sent information to over 30 judges in the spoken word and spoken word related communities. We've selected a wide range of judges, with knowledge and expertise in the field, from artists to organizers to promoters to press, and including noted artists from around the globe and in Minnesota.

For the Peoples Award we are coming to you, the People. We are asking you to cast your votes for the Awards, Now, so your voice can be heard. We also ask that you spread the Word, and pass on the information to your lists, networks and friends. The voting is open to anyone, anywhere. You do not have to live in Minnesota or in the U.S. The spoken word community is wide and vibrant, and we want to hear from you. This is why we have provided work samples and excerpts, and nominee information, so you can make the most informed decision as possible, regardless of where you are based.

* The only limit with the voting is that you can only vote once per IP address, this is to protect against multiple voting by a single person. We realize this may limit folks in certain situations but we feel this is the best way at this time to protect the integrity of the online voting process.

To cast your vote, you can go to this link: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/118841/urbangriotsawardsvoting

If you have any questions, or would like more information, please contact us at mnswa.mail@gmail.com.

We hope that you will join us as we celebrate the Spoken Word community and art form. We thank you for your time and your support. All the best.


Urban Griots Organizing Committee
& MN Spoken Word Association

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Some photos

Opening for Sage Francis at First Ave.:
Performing at the Loft for the Equilibrium series, w/ Giles Li and Bassey Ikpi:
Both shows were amazing. Next big show is the first ever MN Spoken-Word Awards on Friday, 4/3 at the Varsity. And we haven't officially announced it yet, but mark your calendar for 5/9. EP release party at the Nomad w/ Big Cats! and our band.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Guante feature in the Pioneer Press

Here's the link.

It's a pretty flattering profile. The only thing I'd clarify is that the line on my album is "guante got more flows than Minnesota's got white rappers." I wouldn't say that that's "taking swipes" at anyone. Also, I didn't perform at the Republican National Convention; I performed at the PROTEST of the Republican National Convention. Haha. But hey, fame. Haven't seen the print copy yet; hope the photo is nice.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


The MN Spoken Word Association Presents

The URBAN GRIOTS Spoken Word Awards Celebration
An 8 Year Retrospective Honoring One of the Nation's Most Vibrant Communities
The Official National Poetry Month Kick-Off!
Friday, April 3, 2009

WHAT: An evening of historic recognition, noted nominees, awards, music and dance highlighting the magnitude of the celebrated Spoken Word community in the Twin Cities and beyond. Not to be missed performances by Twin Cities finest spoken word artists, bands, and DJs. The official 2009 National Poetry Month kick off, this evening is one of the most culturally diverse artistic gatherings held this year. A night to Celebrate and Remember!!

“What you all have here is special…don’t ever forget that.” Amiri Baraka (2008)

“I’ve been saying for years, the Twin Cities Spoken Word Community is one of the most advanced, and innovative, in the country, and a number of artists here can stand toe to toe with many of the top artists nationwide. It just usually doesn't get the attention it deserves.”
e.g.bailey (MN Spoken Word Association/Tru Ruts)

Friday, April 3, 2009. Doors at 8pm. Event at 9pm. The Varsity Theater.
1308 Fourth St. S.E., Minneapolis.

$3 Before 9:30pm, $5 After 9:30pm
Advance Tickets Available at www.varsitytheater.org | 612-604-0222

Group Reservations are being taken now for reserved seating via email at mnswa.mail@gmail.com


Master of Ceremony: Tiyo Siyolo
Music By: DJ Mixwell
Awards: Over 20 categories of awards, ranging from New Artist of the Year to launching MN’s 1st Spoken Word Hall of Fame.

Performances By:
J. Otis Powell, Truthmaze, Bao Phi, Edupoetic Enterbrainment (Frank Sentwali, Tiyo, Queen Drea), Hyder Ali, Ibe Kaba, Palabristas, Ed Bok Lee, Poetic Assassins, MPLS and St. Paul Slam Teams, Marie Chante, Guante, Chantz, Tish Jones, Lady Lit, October, Karma, Niyah Bengai, and other surprise guests.

SPONSORS: KFAI Fresh Air Community Radio and KMOJ Radio

Interview opportunities, digital photos and video are available upon request.

Sha Cage, MN Spoken Word Association
(612) 288-9491 or sha.mnswa@gmail.com

MN Spoken Word Association (MNSWA) is one of the premier Spoken Word organizations in the nation with programming solely dedicated to spoken word and urban arts. It strives to empower youth and community through leadership, literacy, and spoken word! Programming includes: workshops and residencies in schools and community centers, regional/national travel, social justice work, area slams, radio shows, consulting and producing projects, youth leadership groups, and sustainable partnerships.

Monday, March 23, 2009

An Unwelcome Guest site up


I'll probably get a proper domain eventually, but until then this is where you can go to get information on the upcoming hip hop concept album being put together by me and producer Big Cats!. Aside from notes on the album, there'll be photos and videos of the shows we've been playing with our band.

Check it out. Much more to come.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Tribe & Big Cats: Supply and Demand

It's available for download now at the Tribe's MySpace page.

Here's the facebook link too.

I didn't know what to expect, other than that the production would be top-notch (Big Cats! produced or co-produced with DJ Pete the beats), but the entire EP is a great listen. Twin Cities-by-way-of-Chicago emcee Truth Be Told has a perfect hip hop voice, and his storytelling, slice-of-life narratives and straight-up flexing are a lot of fun to listen to.

And at only 20 minutes long, the EP is cohesive and never wears out its welcome; it's just a taste of what the group is about. Haven't seen them live, but I'll be playing their release party this Sunday at the Triple Rock, so definitely looking forward to that:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Big March shows: Hyder Ali release party, Tribe release party, Sage Francis, Equilibrium

Lousy Smarch weather. It's going to be a great March though. Four big shows coming up:

Friday, 3/20: Hyder Ali EP Release Party at the Turf Club (playing with Big Cats! and our band):

Sunday, 3/22 at the Triple Rock (early 7pm show): The Tribe EP release show (again, playing with Big Cats! and our band). This group is pretty unknown still, but the EP is really, really good; definitely check that out:

Friday, 3/27: playing two shows for Substance; an all ages pre-show at the Entry w/ Cecil Otter and Battle Royale (playing with Big Cats! and our band), and then doing some spoken-word w/ See More Perspective for the main-room show with Sage Francis, B.Dolan, Building Better Bombs and more:
Finally, Saturday, 3/28: I'll be performing some spoken-word stuff at the Loft Literary Center's Equilibrium series. I'll be joining Giles Li and Bassey Ikpi. 8pm, all ages.

On top of all this, I'll be guest-hosting Junkyard Empire's "Lowertown Commune" series at the Black Dog in St. Paul on Wednesdays 3/18 and 3/25. Lots of fun.

For more details, check my full show calendar at www.myspace.com/elguante.