I’ve been blessed to have performed with some of the great contemporary poets of our time. Back in the nineties I worked with Linton Kwesi Johnson, Benjamin Zephaniah and Lemn Sissay and made my name on the fledgling poetry circuit. I was also part of the hip hop scene in Manchester and love my UK MC’s and rappers.
In recent years I’ve been busying writing books and plays, campaigning and raising a family but still support the scene. Lucky to be working with the next generation of Asian and African, African Caribbean poets (or spoken word artists as they like to be called nowadays}. Young people like Shareefa Energy, the hip hop artist Awate and The Orator aka Boston Williams.
‘The truth is in fact a lie…’
His poetry album ‘Vernacular’ is an amazing opus that blends sharp lyricism with some amazing soundscapes and beats. From the angry opening track ‘IC3’ which tackles the still persuasive stereotyping of black youth in the UK to the beautiful odes ‘Oh Ye’ and in particular ‘Beacon Hill’ with it’s breakdown of the nature of love. W.O.R.DS segues his flow about the beauty of words and his craft with clever asides and quotes. ‘Bellies Humming Lynch’ challenges the post racial perspectives that many of us adopt and the complacency that exists. A poem for the sisters ‘Dimple & Wrinkles’ tip toes the balance between being condescending and being pro black and beautiful. My current fav is ‘Watershed’ with the chilled out backing and beats that drive the track. In ‘Crumblin”you can hear the echoes of 70’s dub poetry but done in The Orator’s distinct patter. The dub version just extends this flex and adds a wicked B-line. Even the little skits and the voices that we hear add depth and perspective to the album.
In some ways these poems doesn’t feel like 2017 but in these crazy merciless times I’m not sure what speaks to us right now. Vernacular feels timeless and powerful in how it evokes both the past, present and the future.
Gotta say a lot of the current spoken word content washes over me but this album gripped me with it’s honesty and realness. So putting him up there as one of the voices of our time. Straight up poetry never sounded so raw and beautiful.
Saqib, March 2017