Rhythmic American Poetry

JG The Jugganaut: Rhythmic American Poetry Review

You might remember JG The Jugganaut as the poetic force behind the intro to Yungg Soja’s, I Am Klasik Vol. 1. Setting the tone for that project, JG proved that his chops as a spoken word artist are not something that can be easily ignored. Rhythmic American Poetry is a testament to his lyrical skills as a poet, while giving an undeniable ode to what is perhaps one of his greatest influences: Hip Hop.

Rhythmic American Poetry (RAP) is not a Hip Hop album or a spoken word album, but a combination of both that aims to uncover the poetic roots of rapping through the use of spoken word against a variety of beats. The Hip-Hop influence is evident on J2 The Villain where JG uses a braggadocious, poetic flow against a heavy beat with lines like, “As heroic as I try to be, the Jugganaut is a villain, the prime suspect in a string of open mic killings,” presenting himself as a competitive emcee residing in the body of a spoken word artist. As atypical as combative rhymes may feel when it comes to poetry, it definitely sets the tone for what seems to be one of the running themes throughout the project: JG is a poet who has felt more at home with Hip-Hop than he has in his own lane as a spoken word artist. The skits throughout the album, like You Ain’t Got No Kufi? drives home the point that he is sometimes a displaced artist because he doesn’t follow the trends and stereotypes associated with being a spoken word poet. The inherent dichotomy in trying to be a poet who spits with the competitive soul of a rapper is further pushed in a track called Rhythmic American Poetry, penned after the name of the album:

When I first got hooked on poetry

they reeled me in and studied me

they said I sound too much like rap

they cut down my lines then they tossed me back

now rap, rap heard my words

rap said my flow was crack

but I never rhyme about rims and the trap

and Interscope ain’t found a way to market without that

JG also talks about his insecurities and desires when it comes to relationships on tracks like Marital Issues, where he discusses having marital issues as an unmarried man, Brick Walls, or I Need where he talks about all the qualities he wants in a woman; qualities that are subtly contradictory at times, which only adds to the complexity of the poem. Sperm Donor could be seen as a story of what happens when all that goes wrong, with a child inevitably trapped in the middle, while Black Widow is probably one of the most solid tracks on the album in terms of story-telling and matching the production with JG’s booming voice.

He continues to pay homage to Hip-Hop with 1995, reminiscing on his high school days growing up in Columbus, Ohio, and being influenced by artists like Wu-Tang, Biggie, Raekwon, Nas and Lauryn Hill. It’s another solid track, the production forcing you to reminisce right along with him.

While I won’t dive into every track on the album, I think that the ones that I mentioned are proof of JG’s abilities to craft stories with poetic wordplay. At times the poems can come off as rehearsed as opposed to performed because the emotion behind them doesn’t match the words on display. While the tracks on the album are, on average, the length of any Hip-Hop songs you might hear, the project feels long as a whole when combined with the skits. There’s definitely a theme to RAP, but I think it starts to get lost in the arrangement of the tracks and the length of the album, making it feel less cohesive.

None of that takes away from the fact that it showcases spoken word as something intrinsic and necessary to rap as an art, instead of a distant cousin far removed from it. JG talks about the conflicting nature of being a poet who feels like a rapper, while at the same time proving that the two are one and the same. If you’re a writer, a fan of poetry, or a Hip-Hop head who really listens to lyrics, then I would recommend this for you. Go cop it at the link below.

Until next time.

-Kia

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JG The Jugganaut

JG  The Jugganaut is a spoken word artist from Ohio whose album, Rhythmic American Poetry, was recently nominated for album of the year by the National Poetry Awards. You can vote for him on their website and download the album at the links below.

Rhythmic American Poetry Download: http://www.mediafire.com/download/gjb6juq8jo59db2/Rhythmic_American_Poetry_(final).zip

National Poetry Awards: http://www.thenationalpoetryawards.com/

JG’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jugganautical?fref=ts

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The Power Of The Acapella

Whenever I talk to people about who is lyrically nice in Hip Hop today my first question is, how would that person sound acapella? I argue that if you strip the beat out from under a lot of artists, all of a sudden they sound like they’re Dr. Seussing their rhymes. The beat carries them, and while lyrics are just one part of what makes an emcee (the other being flow), it’s the element that adds depth to the music. Without it, you get an artist who could possibly have a nice flow, but isn’t saying anything to make you really listen. He’s basically background music. At it’s core, rapping is a poetic art form and the best of emcees use poetic device, so that even if you don’t like an artist’s style of rapping, you can’t argue that she understands the science behind putting words together in a compelling way. So that being said, here are some artists that I think most  reflect that concept when spitting acapella:

If there are any artists that you listen to that you think deserve to make this list, feel free to drop a link in the comments!

-Kia

Poe Picasso: Bringing Hip Hop’s Reformation

“I am the magistrate, new face of this rap game, giving classic pieces of art, word to my last name.”

-Poe Picasso

At the time that my brother was attending VCU in Richmond, Virginia, he came home to New York feenin’ for two things: pizza and Hip Hop. We would have listening sessions in my room for the latest album that dropped, from Lupe Fiasco, to Jay-Z, to Nas. This time around though, with a mouth full of pizza, he dropped one track on me and simply said: “You gotta hear this dude.”

It was Poe Picasso’s 40 Days, 40 Nights, a song that uses a strong visual metaphor to relate the current state of Hip Hop to the story of Noah while illustrating Poe’s intentions to purge the entire industry in order to rebuild Hip Hop to it’s former glory.

Needless to say, I was interested.

I listened to the rest of Exhibit B: Manifest Destiny, the mixtape where 40 Days, 40 Nights can be found, and then downloaded his first release, Exhibit A: The Real Hip Hop Project. As I listened, I realized that Poe was a product of Hip Hop’s era of socially conscious wordsmiths, street poets, and lyrical masters – an era that made me fall in love with Hip Hop in the first place. He is able to draw a very real connection between a rough life growing up in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, and the overall political and social problems in New York City and beyond that have consequentially lead to the unfortunate circumstances of not just his hood, but those worldwide.

This week, Poe released Reformation, an aptly chosen title for his third release. While Poe’s previous releases focused on the decomposition of Hip Hop through a lens of social awareness and accountability, Reformation is more about the reconstruction, rehabilitation, and transformation of Hip Hop music as a whole into something that is not just dumbed down for the sake of radio airplay, but is a powerful force that sheds much needed light on common social, economic, and political problems that go unchanged. Poe also has no problem sharing his sentiments that New York, as the birthplace of Hip Hop, has fallen off. He intends to start this reformation right in his own back yard by taking what the original innovators of Hip-Hop left behind and bringing it to the next level for his generation.

I’ll be honest in saying that I personally didn’t think the production on Reformation was as strong as his previous two releases, and it lacked the vitality that he brought to his other projects. That being said, I think the lyrics and overall tone of this mixtape remains intact while keeping the spirit of his message consistent. The free download includes an audio book in .PDF format that allows you to play the songs and read the lyrics. I appreciated that approach because I honestly miss the days of CD booklets that laid out the lyrics.

Poe has already proved himself to be a viable wordsmith, poetic, and intelligent, so I’m looking forward to the main course where I can see what he can really do in the booth with stronger production and original beats.

Until then, check out his other projects on his Bandcamp page here: http://poepicasso.bandcamp.com/

And check out the video for his song, Inspiration, below.

Later folks.

-Kia