Days 1&2: So You Think You Can Spit
Day 3: Dodging a Bullet
Day 4: Mic Check Group 1
Monday, 27 June 11,
So, the first round of competition begins tonight at 7pm, B. Smith’s restaurant in Union Station here in Washington, D.C. Boy I cant wait to get me a seat and check out my competition……. no pressure. But if anyone who knows me could tell you, when I get into Slam Mode….. all bets are off. I play fair, but I get into the zone. And don’t you even think that I am giving away my strategies either. I just hope that my musician is prepared to work…. whenever I find out who that person is…lol.
As a reminder, the theme for tonight is Love. As a bitter woman…lol.. I hope that it isn’t filled with sappy love poems, or bitter “he hurt me and now men aren’t anything more than a bunch of dogs” poems. I don’t want stereotypical poems. I don’t want just Mother-child, husband-wife, or boyfriend-girlfriend love poems. I want them to step out of the box and make me step my game up for my rounds. I want them to think outside of the box and make us other poets say ” why in the world did I not think of that!”. Spit hard or go home!
Outside of the fear of generic poetry with an unassuming theme like love, I have no other expectations. I think that the musicians will be fantastic if allowed to do what they do within the collaboration. And I just pray that everyone stepped outside of the box on ALL aspects; that they created something FRESH and NEW together.
In the famous words of Tyra Banks ( don’t judge me), “So, you wanna be on top?” BRING IT!!!!
Okay, so last night was a very eye-opening experience, to say the least. Off the bat I noticed that I would not be able to critique and blog the way that I usually would because I am still apart of this competition. And you all know that I usually go HARD in the paint. So, since I don’t want anyone learning anything that I came to on my own conclusions, lol, I will stick strictly to what the judges said. Okay? Okay.
Now, I got there around 5:30pm…..again, you must be on time, but I was just greedy and wanted to eat. Again, the bar staff was extremely helpful and one of these days I will remember their names, I promise I will. They remember you and make you feel like you are important; sounds corny but I mean it. That kind of attention to detail is great service! I was thinking of the lamb sliders again but I went with the catfish fingers and a lemonade this time. I sat there and read my Nook and even helped this gentleman sitting next to me locate the date of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Right before it was time for the show to start I overheard a group of individuals, a generation my senior, talking about Busboys and Poets. They were asking if anyone had gone and I mentioned that they should go and check it out. if for no other reason than to come checkout my shows and experience great food. lol. One of the gentlemen leans forward and asks me something along the lines of ” What ever happened with intellectual poetry along the lines of Langston, Dunbar, Hurston. ” He quickly followed with, “I have to know because I am not a fan of all of this rap nonsense like Lil Wayne.” There must have been an angel distracting God because this was my moment to go in!
First I informed him the error in his thinking by placing Lil Wayne in the same category as poets. I don’t believe that Rhythm Applied to Poetry (RAP) is the same as spoken word. That is a conversation in and of itself…..but I just don’t agree with that in the simple context of the statement. I then proceed to say, “You ask that question as if it died with Langston and as if intellectual poets don’t exist. What you should ask is, where can I locate such poets because I am unaware.” Somehow the conversation took a turn towards compensation when he asked then how can we switch the public from liking such perversion and return it back to the intellectual. My mere answer was “Pay Me.” When it comes to events, a rapper can charge $800 to perform but let a poet say anything over $100 and simultaneously the budget starts to shrink. It is the masses who, in general, pay for such perversion so they mass produce it. The minute you can get poetry to be come wanted by the masses, you will begin to hear it.
This became a moment for him to jump in and tell me that I should then turn my attention to his generation and market towards them because they can afford to pay us, and that using Twitter and Facebook is senseless as a marketing tool because grown folks don’t “twitter”. I held up his mirror and told him, “Why would I market to you when you have just insulted my generation’s intelligence, inventions, and socio-economic status? You’d be in bed by the time I woke up to head to the show.” I went into further detail and said that “Yes, your generation has more income but that doesn’t mean that my generation can’t afford $100 a table, $200 bottles a pop at those tables, and they happen to relate to the messages that my poetry is about and they got all of this information from my tweet. We are younger but we are definitely not dumber and incompetent. So, I ask you….whatever happened to the intellectual elders who believed in the youth and actually chose to help them succeed rather than be in opposition to and superiority over?” With that I thanked them all for listening and proceeded into the main dining hall to go check in with the contestants.
The contestants were in one of the side dining rooms relaxing and having conversation. I was shocked! I thought that I would have walked in with people going over last-minute fixes and meditations in the corner…something, anything to get them ready for the show. But again, that is what I would do, and I was not one of the firsts to go so it didn’t matter. I had a blast sitting back there listening to them converse about how they were nervous, how they had prepared for the show, and how they just wanted to get out there and perform. It was great for me to see them so ready to perform. I knew I would get to know that feeling sooner rather than later, but I was more than ready to see them all hit the stage.
I went out into the dinning room and took my spot at a table with a few other contestants who were coming to support this group just like I was there to do. I sat with Angelique (poet), Lauren (musician), and Pete (musician) and we had a great old-time as we waited for the show to begin. As we sat there I began to understand how people could say that contestants in a competition with you could become like family. We joked as if we had known one another for years. I think that Pete’s fly hat went around the table about 7 times as we tried it on striking our best pose with it. Angelique and I discussed our mixed genealogy and the effects it had on our melting pot hair, but not before we burst into Spanish and discover that we had more in common than we knew. These people were cool and I had B. Smith’s to thank for allowing me to meet them.
In walks my big brother 13 of Nazareth to add to the mix.
The show begins. Andres (B. Smith’s Manager) and Jeanie Jones (Miss Kitty of the City) from WKYS open up the show by welcoming the guests and by introducing the judges: Lamar Parker, Love the Poet (2008 People’s Poet Award recipient) and 2010 Grammy Nominated Carolyn Malachi. This table of judges was in for a treat.
Team 1: Testimony and BJ on Sax
BJ on Sax had been playing the sax since the age of 9…wow! Testimony had accomplished a ton of things in her bio as well which concluded in the announcement of her project Out of the Vessel which came out last December. If you noticed nothing else, you noticed that Testimony owned half of the dining room viewers. No, LITERALLY… I think she brought her entire family to cheer her own. It was amazing to see that kind of support. I hope that I can have a crowd like that!!! I noticed that BJ had his alto sax hanging around his neck, but as soon as the performance began he started with the flute. Midway during the performance he switched back to the sax and then ended with the flute again. Quite the magic trick I tell ya. So now I know that I can call him BJ on the Flute & Sax…lol.
At the end of the poem Jeanie Jones said that she “now wants to take a bath in sunflowers” after that love poem. Carolyn Malachi “appreciated the cyclical essence of the poem. ” She “thought that Testimony’s delivery was on one level and advised her to make sure that her tone and delivery explored range in the future.” Lamar Parker “wished their presence would have meshed together better at the beginning of the poem.” And Love the Poet “loved the instrumentation.” She “agreed with Lamar and Carolyn, for the most part, and advised Testimony about how her voice was and instrument and how she could have used her voice to match the softness of the flute.” The issue of the switching between instruments was addressed as well, with regards to whether it was rehearsed or not.
Team 2: Spicy Poet and Gena (piano)
Spicy Poet started doing spoken word 4 years ago and has been writing since the age of 8. Gena has been playing the piano for 12 years and recently got her bachelors from George Mason University… go Patriots! Gena is apart of a music group, pardon me for not remembering the name, but it hand something to do with “thump”. Jeanie said “Thump and SPicy makes me say….. meow”. hahahahah Classic!
I can’t remember but I think that Spicy introduced the group. Shortly following that, Gena began to check the keyboard before she began to play this amazing piece of music. The girl has skills! Spicy began with this mellow poem circa Love Jones and it made you listen and pay attention to what she was saying. This would have gone perfect in a lounge-like setting with the lights down low, with nothing but candles and the one you love holding your hand. It had THAT type of feel. <~Y’all loved my PG13 explanation of the setting, didn’t you? This is a family show people, family show! lol
Love the Poet said that “Spicy could have executed better, energy wise. Spicy sat in the pocket of the beat too much.” Love suggested that Spicy should “dig deeper, take risks with writing, and don’t play it safe.” Lamar got the crowd laughing when he said “Caramel is my shade of love”, which was a reference to the opening and closing of Spicy’s poem. He continued to say that the music and poetry “should have been more natural and it could have been better if they had, in fact, found their own shade of love.” Carolyn “loved it!” She went on to say, “Someone told me that you should leave room for your audience to interpret your work and your work did that.” Boy, if that wasn’t a retweeted profound statement that EVERY artist should listen to then I have no clue what else it is. I was glad that I got an opportunity to hear that. I may have to ask her how do you do that safely, without telegraphing. *Puts this on my list of things to do one day* That statement is going to have me thinking for a minute.
Team 3: Karega Bailey and Graham Doby
Karega hails from California, and if you know ANYTHING about him outside of poetry…. you know he is all about helping children to be come better people. And his wingman, Graham, has been playing the drums since he was 9 years old. Karega began by reminding the artist that many “go astray and define love through the definition of Eros”. But it was Graham that caught the attention of everyone in the room, and you could have been deaf and still would have seen the heads bobbing and faces with the look of “That’s my Jam” plastered on them. I mean Graham was on FIYAH! Yeh, Yeh, Yeh, I know I said I wasnt going to give my opinion, but this is my blog and I can give my opinion. GRAHAM WAS THE BEES KNEES!!!!….. I stole that from a Geico commercial and I hope it means what i think it means. lol. You could tell that the two of them rehearsed and had a plan… they meshed well. Karega usually performs with his fiancée, who plays the piano, and he knows a little something-something about the drums… so this was a match made in heaven. The hand shake of appreciation that Graham and Karega gave one another at the end of the night said it all.
Lamar said that this piece reminded him “of the scene in Coming to America where Eddie Murphy is about to marry the first girl with the drums and dancers. And I say that because Coming to America is my favorite movie. You blew my mind and THAT scene made that movie. It was flawless like sixteen bars of [Tu]Pac’s.” <~WOW!!!!! Top that! Tupac? Really. Awesome. Love the poet mentioned that “from the jump you were on point. Visually you engaged me, our heartbeats intertwined with the drums, and there was synergy.” I dare you not to Google synergy….lol. SAT word 101, baby…lol. Carolyn turned her attention towards Graham and said, “Graham, I did not expect you to take that approach; beautiful. Karega, usually it bothers me when a poet gives an introduction to their poems because it is the poet’s job to let the poem speak for itself. So, usually, for me that is a no, no, but in this case it did not work against you. I loved the new experience.” *Note to self…. no intro. lol
Team 4: Kareema and Alberto
Kareema hails from upstate New York while Alberto’s bio states that he has always had an ear for music. Alberto ( which I hope is his name, and if not I promise to come back and change it… and apologize in advance) introduced the group before he took his eat behind the congo. Honeeeeeeeeeeeey let me tell you that the congo was loud and I was sitting right under the speaker. lol. But it definitely got yoru attention. Kareema began her poem by saying, ” I’m going to cut off all of my hair” to which Carolyn shouts, “Yes” with arms straight in the air signifying a touch down. lol. Funny. At the conclusion of their piece, Jeanie mentioned that it was very motivating. Lamar said that they had “beautiful stage presence; they were one. He was speechless and that last group [Karega and Bailey] had set the tone. Love the Poet noticed how “the subject went well with the drums” and how Kareema needed to “open her eyes and connect. Be mindful of your audience.” Also, after a seemingly harmless yest controversial line in the middle of the poem, Love reminded us that ” you don’t have to bring down anyone else’s beliefs just to prove yours.” Carolyn concluded by saying that ” the poem was reminiscent of the Last Poets.” Alberto confirmed that he did mention the style to Kareema and introduced that style into their rehearsal process that they had begun last Thursday. Carolyn even asked if Kareema was familiar with Sonya Sanchez because the piece had her feel as well.
So, with all of that being said….. who won? Well…. the winners of the night were Karega/Graham ( like, duh) and Kareema/Alberto. Congrats!
These groups get to rest until week 5 when they compete in the semi-final round. Good luck to you all and I am proclaiming that I will see you there!!! lol.
B. Smith's B. Talented contestants & judges w/ Ms. B. Smith
~*My Mother’s Daughter*~