musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Category: Poetry & Spoken Word

Emay releases Ilah and the video for Bakkah: The History of Humankind

Emay

Last year, we introduced you to the powerful social commentary of Emay (Mubarik Adams), a hip-hop and experimental artist from Ontario, Canada. His new album, just released, is Ilah (on Star Slinger’s Jet Jam label). It picks up from where lead single “Israfil ‘angels trumpet'” left off — trying to make sense of a senseless world, envisioning a society where one can be the master of one’s destiny and not a victim of circumstance. In other words, it’s about life. His breathless prose is startling in its literary prowess and poetic deliverance. Phrases twirl around the musical accompaniment like beautifully twisting vines. They rise elegantly from the rich compost of hypnotic beats, experimental soundscapes and otherworldly voices, woven together like a timeless tapestry. The listener is alternately drawn into the depths of aural seduction and then popped awake with a powerful metaphor or turn of phrase.

“As a son, I inherited heavy talismans.
Pallid, invalid purposes. Set for the many challenges.
Studied what He told us and parroted many passages,
Only to duck embarrassment – Barren of any sacrilege.
Required to wear tradition as a blindfold.
Only admire, never petition when a lie is told.”
– Son

“The History of Humankind” is exactly that — a modern chronicle of civilization, with a sharp eye and piercing perception. As he catalogues humankind’s accomplishments and failures with adept precision in an abandoned gas station, an urban soldier in riot gear performs fragmented krumping like an alien sign language.

“To me the video is a battle displaying my ideological development and the conflict of ideas taking over and building off of one another. Much love to Aaron Hall and Dujean Williams for creating that with me. My beliefs and ideas about the world are constantly evolving and developing; this isn’t an overnight process, but one that takes a decade or maybe even a lifetime.” – Emay

Consider distilling the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Noam Chomsky, Dostoevsky, Lenin, Kwame Nkrumah plus the writings of the Quran into a rap/hip-hop album, and you’ll begin to comprehend the headiness and ambition of a work like this. An interview Adams gave to The Paper Street Journal delves into his inspiration, from religious texts to political leaders to grassroots social movements. He offers up no answers, just an avalanche of questions and the intense desire to stimulate dialogue.

“My goal for this project was to depict the progression of my ideological development as a child up until now as an adult. My main focus being to depict how one’s experiences directly influences one’s ideas about the world.” – Emay

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Introducing… Lou Sinergy

Yes, I’ll admit it. On the rare occasions that we cover a rapper here, you can count on it being someone special. What I find impressive about 22-year-old Lou Sinergy is the hyper-literacy of his edgy alternative rap and the incredibly smooth phrasing around the slow burn of the music. What blew me away was “Wandering The Digital Age Ft Ali Ingle.” His poetry is interspersed with the soulful sounds of London-based singer-songwriter Ali Ingle, quite impressive in his own right. Together they conjure a bit of musical magic. They’re an inspired pairing, with Sinergy’s social commentary and stories of personal struggle in the modern age and Ingle’s emotional narrative of life and love, hope and despair.

“Supernova winters, Bipolar rainstorms making grey sweatshirts distinguished, Leaving slipper marks on arses redder than fire extinguishers, And burning like your left ear when somebody is doing behind the back linguistics, Sign language is my mother tongue, what is this? Mein Kampf is my toilet paper when my fit list is diminished, Louis Connor Gregory, occupation, relinquished, And I have unfinished business with businesses who need to mind their own business, ‘Cause I can turn into recession in an instant, And give the bone idol CEO’s a gargantuan dose of tickets, LIFE, isn’t rich dinners, LIFE, Is shin splinters and split sphincter’s, Analytical of the timber, That provides my lungs and helps my lion heart beat the blood around my reincarnation of Simba.

So sit with me, And I will spill all the stories of the nomad, Who connected wifi to his notepad, And wrote rumours about the digital age, Planting the paranoia seed and ruining the romance, Roberto Duran’s stone hands got thrown when I sat with him, And redrew his road map.”
– Wandering The Digital Age

Just released is a video for a new track, “Destabilised.” It was filmed by Ian Lewis and edited by Killer Robot Productions, with beat produced by Blizzard.

Lou Sinergy’s latest EP is A Late AfternoonFind it on Spotify. Ali Ingle’s EP is called The Great Romantic Drought. It’s due for release this month.

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Introducing… Slow Coyote

Looking for a gently rambling way to ease into your busy day? Or an invigorating back roads journey as a brief respite from city life? Have a listen to Portsmouth, New Hampshire poet, folk musician (and naturalist?) Slow Coyote, who has just released American Supertramp. This 20-track album traverses from quiet acoustic daydreams to a rambunctious woodlands journey (“Wolf Tracks”) to relationship angst (“You Never Call Me”) to a stunning contemplation on deception (“Gypsy Reggae”), and it’s pretty amazing how one man and one acoustic guitar can conjure so many textures and moods. His expressive guitar playing seems to fit each song’s subject matter like a sleek second skin. It gallops along for “Spanish Horseback Riding Song” and kicks up its heels for “Shaolin Shadowdance.”

This is troubadour storytelling at its finest. And if that isn’t enough, there is a stark and elegant spoken word piece tucked in there as well (“Frozen Ground”) and a mournful acapella piece (“Rat Rag”). The album is available as a “name your price” download on Bandcamp. Highly recommended.

Slow Coyote has also self-published two books, “Now I Am Gold” and “Black Gold,” that comprise memoir, prose and poetry. ::: BUY THEM ON AMAZON ::: (p.s. if you’re really poor, you can pick them up for free at Smashwords, but support the artist in any way you can!)

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It’s Time – by RNA The Messenger Ft. Zeles and Modern Day Midas

This extremely important piece of poetry comes to you courtesy of N/A Hip Hop (previously profiled here at musings from boston) in the guise of one of his two alter egos, RNAtheMessenger. “It’s Time” was produced by Brandon Bula and also features Zeles and Modern Day Midas. It was released to commemmorate Martin Luther King Day and, as usual, I’m a bit late in posting. But (sadly) this message will likely be relevant for some time to come, until everyone hears it and gets on board. This track features artists from Boston, San Antonio and Austin who use the hip-hop genre to “stand in unity with those fighting for equality throughout the world.”

 

It’s Time

(Hook – Modern Day Midas)
It’s time to change the game
So much death and destruction
It’s time to change the game
New slaves chained to injustice
It’s time to change the game
So much pain we endure
And the rich still take from the poor,
So it’s time we even the score

RNAtheMessenger:
I wrote this song the morning Hopsin left
There’s a prophet down, do we got options left?
Called Zeles told him spit that realness
We rap to change the game swear the people gon’ feel this
If there’s a silver lining hidden in the Ferguson verdict,
Eric Garner’s lack of breath and the rest of these murders
There’s a renaissance embryonic
See the mirage and we get beyond it
Demonic nonsense, atomic bomb it
Everyday I see students struggle to balance
Social Darwinism and discovering talents
Hip Hop is culture, it’s more than just rap music
Snapback and Tattoos, you listen to that music?
Bull shit! What, you emptied a full clip?
Know this, we the new age poets
Put the POTUS on notice
We’re sick of social approaches that hold the hopeless diplomaless
So let’s go with this and know that it’s

(Hook)

Zeles:
Straight up i got money for the W lobby
but it’ll take a couple mill to go to DC to lobby
Prolly get some attention, when this thang hits YouTube
Just to have the next 3 seconds looped on Fox news

I’m tired of dem saying this happens to white kids too
True, but dude but mark my words
black and brown deaths make up the bulk of the bell curve
and my ears still ringin from the gun shots ya heard,

Thugs in the street, even more in the building
pinstriped up got they fountain pens wit them,
The food kills us and the medicine creates illness,
Let’s ban Chicano studies no need for cultured children

Won’t let the beat breath I’m just being honest
NY politicians discuss what this flow garners
We want justice so how could you oppose it
if you lookin at a timex or a rolex just know it’s

Bridge:
It’s time to make a change
It’s time to change the game
It’s time to make a, time to make a, time to make a change

Bridge – Zeles / RNA (2x)
So lets stop! Judging by the shade of our skin
And let’s stop! Perpetuating media myths
And let’s stop! And recognize we all human
So Let’s start! Today let the new era begin

(Hook)


N/A Hip Hop (a.k.a. Greg Matthew) goes by two names: RNA The Messenger and DNAtheG. Originally from Dorchester, MA, he graduated from Boston College in 2011 and is now based in Austin, Texas. DNAtheG released his debut EP, “The Code” (Echo Studios) in September 2013. RNA The Messenger’s upcoming LP “Here Cometh the Dreamer” is set for release early this year.

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Introducing… N/A Hip Hop a.k.a. RNA the Messenger

N/A Hip Hop, from his "Marco Polo" video

Those of you who frequent this blog will know that I don’t cover a whole lot of hip-hop. In fact, I think the only rap artists I’ve ever covered here have been John Forte and M.U.R.S.. It’s not that I’m racist, or even that I particularly dislike this style of music. The issue is that I’m a lyrics girl, and let’s face it, the vast majority of rap/hip-hop is incredibly misogynist and perhaps even worse than that, vacuous. This is why, when I hear someone doing something vital and interesting in this genre, I get really excited.

Greg Matthew, the mastermind behind N/A Hip Hop a.k.a. RNA the Messenger is originally from Dorchester, Massachusetts, though he’s now based in Austin, Texas (one of many Boston to Austin defectors). An English grad from Boston College, he delivers the message to teens that it’s possible to rap sincerely and honestly “without selling out and saying all the nonsense one hears on the radio.” He’s inspired by the emotion the music evokes, and expresses himself through the filter of his literary background. The result is something sophisticated yet visceral, poetic and predatory.

N/A Hip Hop (which stands for nucleic acid and/or not available) released their first 6-track EP, “The Code”, under the name DNAtheG. They’re currently recording with Robie Rowland at Echo Studios to release their second EP, “Here Cometh The Dreamer,” under the name RNAtheMessenger, later this year. In the meantime, they’re releasing singles from it, the first of which is “Marco Polo.” The music video (see below) was filmed by Steven Yee, a former classmate of Matthew’s at Boston Latin School and Boston College who now works as a Hollywood film director. It’s beautifully shot like a short film, and follows the story of an emcee who chooses a performance over a date with his girlfriend. What follows is a dreamlike series of events where he comes home to find evidence that she’s cheating on him (though it’s not clear if she is or not), they fight and he takes off into the woods to clear his mind. There’s a lot of symbolism with a dropped and then found yin-yang necklace, as he confronts his personal demons. As the artist himself explains, “What I was trying to say is that even though he just fought with his girl and she cheated, he knows he was the reason for her disloyalty because he didn’t put her first, so the real fight is not with her but with himself.” That’s certainly a far cry from “bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks.”

“I’m a mystery of Agatha Christie
Edgar Allan Poe yo I’m mad and sadistic
Noam Chomsky said I’m bad with linguistics
In battles I go ballistic
Y’all babble spitting sophistic
My talent’s simply statistics
Trial and error I’ll die by heuristics.
I think I might be a mystic, science fiction”
– Marco Polo

There will be more singles from the upcoming album. The other songs are “Mechanical Hounds,” “Janitorial Madness,” “If Only,” “Grammy and a Girl” and “Here Cometh The Dreamer.” Here are some excerpts:

“These stars are life’s scars, just a part of creation, we were only meant to be, not to solve the equation. The mystery of our history breeds misery, don’t miss the beat, see victory is sweet, we mask hegemony as liberty.” -Grammy and a Girl

“There’s no Clear Channel, our views warped, Now Everything We Slaves Consume Or Review Points to NEWSCORP” -Mechanical Hounds

“Edgar Allan Poe’s reincarnated soul, up at 3 AM copying “The Cask of Amontillado,” composing by the glow of a candle, with no handle on my sanity, one eye on the vanity mirror staring at my sorrow” -Janitorial Madness

Clearly this isn’t your typical rap music. The genre has been twisted and perverted, soaked in the stench of the mainstream music industry. What N/A Hip Hop is doing goes back to what I believe was the original intent, to report without a filter from the trenches of human experience. And besides, anyone who name drops Noam Chomsky in a song of any genre deserves a listen.

As for the title “Here Cometh the Dreamer,” it’s derived from a plaque outside the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis — “they said one to another, behold, here cometh the dreamer, let us slay him and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” Take that, Lil Wayne.


If you like what you see and hear, N/A Hip Hop will be returning home to open for Capone-N-Noreaga on July 19th at The Middle East Downstairs. His set is at 9:40 p.m. He’ll be performing with Colin Dwyer, who will be releasing his own EP on 9/11 at The Lizard Lounge.

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A Tom Waits Christmas

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Breaking News: Literary Luminaries Converge in Little Rock ‘n’ Roll Dive

photo by Kirsty Bennet

photo by Kirsty Bennet

STORIES, READING, STANDING UP!
featuring Dan Kennedy, Ophira Eisenberg, Ben Greenman and Christopher Monks
The Middle East (Upstairs)
Saturday, June 8, 2013
7pm (6pm doors) | $10 | ::: BUY TICKETS :::

Boston has an illustrious intellectual and literary tradition. Among those who have lived and written in and around the city are Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Cambridge), Anne Bradstreet (Salem, Charlestown, Boston, Cambridge), Sylvia Plath (Boston), e.e. cummings (Cambridge), Ralph Waldo Emerson (Concord), Nathaniel Hawthorne (Salem), Robert Frost (Lawrence), Anne Sexton (Newton, Lowell, Boston, Cambridge), Jack Kerouac (Lowell), Oliver Wendell Holmes (Cambridge), Kahlil Gibran (Boston) and though Baltimore claims Edgar Allan Poe, he was in fact born in Boston. Our city also has a rich rock ‘n’ roll history: Nervous Eaters, Mission of Burma, Pixies, Morphine, Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers, Human Sexual Response, Willie Loco and the Boom Boom Band, Rob Zombie, Tracy Chapman, Dresden Dolls, Aerosmith, The Real Kids, Passion Pit… So it’s strangely appropriate that such a distinguished group of fertile minds would be gathering at one of our skanky rock clubs to read from their works.

Dan Kennedy

The missing link between indie rock club and high brow literature might well be New York-based writer Dan Kennedy’s 2008 memoir “Rock On”, about his marketing job at one of the music industry’s corporate monsters, Atlantic Records. He’s a contributor to GQ and McSweeney’s, and is host of The Moth storytelling podcast. His most recent novel is “American Spirit”. :: twit ::

Ophira Eisenberg

Ophira Eisenberg hosts NPR’s rambunctious weekly trivia game show, Ask Me Another, is performer and host of The Moth and has performed on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, VH-1, Comedy Central, E! Channel and Oxygen Network. Her writing has been featured in “I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America’s Top Comics,” YourTango.com and US Weekly’s Fashion Police. This year, she released her debut memoir, “Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy”. :: twit ::

Ben Greenman

As an editor of the New Yorker and renowned author, Ben Greenman has written essays, music criticism and fiction that has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Paris Review, McSweeneys, Zoetrope: All Story and Opium. His books have included “Superbad”, “Superworse”, “A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Both: Stories About Human Love” and his rock star novel, “Please Step Back”. He also contributes to the audioblog moistworks.com. His latest work, recently released, is “The Slippage”. :: twit ::

Christopher Monks

Christopher Monks is editor of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and author of “The Ultimate Game Guide To Your Life”. His writing has appeared in print and online journals including The Morning News and McSweeney’s, and yes of course, he tweets as well.

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Liars & Believers present… Lunar Labyrinth

Lunar Labyrinth
presented by Liars & Believers
based on a story by Neil Gaiman
at Cafe Oberon, 2 Arrow Street
Harvard Square, Cambridge
February 13, 2013 at 8pm
online tickets SOLD OUT;
limited number of tickets available at the door only – $23/$28

::: facebook event ::: | Liars & Believers


This coming Wednesday at Oberon, there’s going to be a multimedia theatrical extravanza, based on a new unpublished short story by author Neil Gaiman. The evening will feature music, poetry, storytelling, puppetry, dance, aerial performance and more, from the region’s most experimental and visionary artists. It’s directed by Steven Bogart and will include performances by Mali Sastri, Phillip Berman, Mary Bichner, Brett Cramp, Claire Davies, Jennifer Hicks, John J. King, Eileen Little, Corianna Moffatt, Masha Obolensky, April Ranger, and Karin Webb.

::: Learn about the performers :::

(from the press release): “Come see what lies at the top of the hill, where the Lunar Labyrinth once stood, in this theatrical adaptation of an unpublished new short story by author Neil Gaiman. For one night only, join us for a feast of music, storytelling, puppetry, poetry, dance, aerial performance, and more. Will you be healed by the bright of the moon? Or blighted by the monsters hiding in her shadow?).”

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The Mystical Art and Talent Show at the Mystical Swedenborg Chapel ~ *tomorrow night*

The Mystical Art and Talent Show
Presented by SoulStirring.Org
Cambridge Swedenborg Chapel

50 Quincy Street, Cambridge MA
(across from Harvard’s Sanders Theatre)
Saturday, October 8, 7-9:30pm; refreshments and reception to follow
Cost: $5-10 sliding scale | more information

featuring music, dance, spoken word and original art, inspired by dreams, meditations, religion, nature…

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Un-Valentine’s Day Weekend continues…

UnValentinesDay2

If you’re on that ‘anti-Valentine’s Day’ kick and are looking for an alternative way to get through the endless marketing hype for flowers, cards and chocolates, here’s some more suggestions for tonight and tomorrow – the ever-provocative Bent Wit Cabaret, with “Cupid’s Misfire”; massmouth’s “Ex-Files”, and Mortified Boston’s Doomed Valentines Show.

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