It was Labor Day weekend and Lexus Verses and Flow was working overtime, serving up back to back fresh episodes featuring three of the recording industry’s most promising artists, and six incredible poets. Up first was Ramya Ramana, Rage Almighty and Rob Gibsun, with music from K. Michelle.
Ramana, the New York City Youth Poet Laureate, led off the show with “Miss America,” a reminder to a recent Miss America winner that she, too, is America. “When they say you are a terrorist, Nina, say back… No, your great grandfathers raped, killed, and oppressed every race in the world. You are the biggest terrorists I know.” She encouraged the beauty, who was ridiculed on Twitter following her historic win, to “keep dancing, Nina, keep dancing. Stomp your feet like resurrected rhinos getting shivers to movement. Do that dance, bring all that motherland you can in here… Make them dance with us.”
Rage Almighty’s poem “If I Ever Had A Son” was very poignant, especially with so many sons turning up dead before having the chance to really live. “If I ever had a son,” he began, “I just don’t want him to wear his Black so hard, wear his Black like it will run away if he don’t wear it right, wear his Black like his Black will betray him…” He hoped his son would be better than him, that his “brilliance will be brighter than a candlelight vigil, he will be innocent before he’s looked at as guilty before he has to stare down the barrel of a textbook like a government issued assault rifle.” He asked that his son be just like his mother, “some of things I am and everything I’m not.”
Rob Gibsun is an artist in addition to being a poet, and his reinterpretation of the runaway hit called “Paris,” gave those watching a visual master class. He gave a history lesson, reinforcing the fact that the Blacks that were in Paris “balled the hardest to subtract Black and solely be yielded as artists.” This line, “Seventy percent of the Earth’s body is water. Seventy percent of your own body is water. So when men throw stones, remember you are harbor. Your heart is a ship. Your art is its wind. Forget being a sellout and just sail out!”, elicited a standing ovation.
Chart-topping artist K. Michelle performed twice during the telecast, bringing Lexus Verses and Flow two hits from her latest project, “Can’t Raise A Man” and “V.S.O.P.”
The evening’s second episode featured American Idol winner Candice Glover, the rising star Mali Music, and poets Tim “Toaster” Henderson, Phenomenon The Poet, and the legendary Black Ice.
Henderson got the show’s engine revved with his poem “Being An Artist.” It chronicled a day in his work life, and how often an artist is misunderstood by those around them. “What are you writing…? Is that a loooooove poem?” they’ll ask. “Can you write a poem for our next meeting about how to properly send spreadsheets through Google docs?” It’s the constant questioning, and belittling, that drives you crazy. Makes you want a drink. Makes you want to give up, according to the Chicago native. “Hello, sizzle of steam rising from my flesh with every glare marinated in ‘poor guy’ and ‘crazy bastard.’
Phenomenon The Poet, another Chicago native now living in Houston, took the stage to relay a lesson taught to her by her grandmother when she was young. The poem, “Down With Goliath,” told the tale of a young Phenomenon given the command to win a fight against a taller, older girl, or, literally not come home. “I don’t care that she tall, or that you’re younger than she is,” she was told, “you gonna fight until you win or find someplace else to live… Down with Goliath!” She won the fight, and every one since then, using those three words as her battle cry. Even after living in a shelter and selling dope at the age of 13, she recalls rising from that low point in her life by remembering that lesson. “Know my fight and my grind,” she warns. “I graduated with one degree in June of 2009. And got up out the dope game and out of the streets. No more shelter. Got my crib with my name on the lease.”
Black Ice, straight out of Philly and hip-hop and an award-winning career in spoken word, took the stage to remind himself that his words hold much more power than he does. The piece, entitled “Who Would I Be,” painted him as a teacher sent to help others reach their potential. “There’s no difference between you and me,” he stated plainly. “I just recognize that my destiny is to help you reach yours, and my words are merely rhetoric unless my speech cures what’s ailing us.” His message wasn’t meant to pump himself up, not with his father’s words staying front and center in his mind. “You’re not a star, Lamar. Your words are.”
Glover took the Verses and Flow stage and reminded everyone watching why she won the popular talent show. Her song, “Forever That Man,” showcased her voice and her writing skills. It’s the only song from her debut album that she wrote. Mali Music sang his hit “Beautiful,” and, putting down his guitar, broke out into a freestyle that brought the audience to their feet.
Two vibrant episodes to add to an already stellar fourth season of Lexus Verses and Flow. What did you think? Did you #getinthefight? What would you do #ifyouhadason? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #VersesandFlow. Oh, and be prepared for next week’s episode, which features a poem that is sure to make you “run” to your greatest heights. Get ready to rock with us.