Verses and Flow

Verses and Flow is a 30-minute variety show that features spoken word and music talent, engineered by Lexus.

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SEASON FOUR EPISODE EIGHT: “HOW TO BE”

The season finale. Those three words are always bittersweet, since you’re happy you were able to enjoy the full season, but simultaneously sad to see it go. That was undoubtedly the range of emotions felt this past weekend as Lexus Verses and Flow wrapped on what was a very eye-opening fourth season, filled with recording artists and poets whose voices lit up the stage. The eighth episode featured special musical guests Gary Clark, Jr. and Alice Smith, with spoken word from Philosophy, Pages Matam and Katelyn Lucas. 

The first poet to step to the mic for the final episode was Philosophy, straight out of Long Beach, CA. His poem, “Black History In The Making,” was a necessary history lesson designed to start conversation about where Black people have been, and where they should be going. “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” he decreed, “and I’ve seen the dream of Martin Luther, once kings and queens, dying out of the diaspora of Africa, sardine packed Blacks on rat-infested ships, drifting…” What’s so riveting about Philosophy is his presence, and his movements, and his commitment to his art. His inflections, as well as the well-documented history of this country, reminded the audience that this hard history didn’t take place that long ago. “This is Black History, Harriet Tubman tunneling through the under ground railroad derailing slavery, slaving to tell her own narrative and narrating freedom to our forefathers.” And to us today. Still.

Pages Matam, a member of the winning team from DC of the 2014 National Poetry Slam, gave everyone a glimpse as to how his team claimed the grand prize with his piece, “Wings,” a love letter to his mother. “My mother never had wings,” he explained, “but she could tap dance on hurricanes and played poker with death. She couldn’t teach me how to be a good man, but taught me how to be a good human being.”

She gave him life lessons: “Never give the world your tears, only smiles gift wrapped in forgiveness.” And, “a hater is just a person with their heart all jumbled up, their self worth drowning in a sea of simulation turning the oceans in their chests into puddles of insecurities. Because those who show you no love are usually the ones who need to see it the most.” It’s that love that’s important for Black boys growing up, he asserted… the love of a mother.

Lucas, from San Leandro, CA, co-founded “The Voice Of A Generation,” a licensed business whose work reinstates the arts in local schools. Her piece performed on this weekend’s show, “How To Be A Perfect Woman,” should be the first poem those students hear. It’s difficult for today’s generation—especially young girls—to feel accepted, or to feel like they matter. This cautionary tale tells them that they don’t have to buy into the societal norms. “Never leave the house without makeup,” Lucas said, reviewing the “don’ts” that are packaged to teens and young adults. “You should really smile more. Be accessorized. Be accessible, just don’t be easy. Just don’t get caught with a mistake in need or erasing… No one likes to see a pretty girl cry.”

Gary Clark, Jr. performed his hit song “Bright Lights” with his band, while Alice Smith performed the title track from her album, “She.” The duo combined to bring the finale to its close with the song “Please Come Home.” 

What did you think of Season Four? What did you think of this season’s artists and poets? Who would you want to see if/when there is a Season Five? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #VersesandFlow, and show some love to host Laz Alonzo and music director Adam Blackstone for a job well done. Lastly, as always, head on over to LuxuryAwaits.com for so much more of Season Four, including interviews and behind-the-scenes moments. 

SEASON FOUR EPISODE SEVEN: “BULLY TACTICS”

Another great mix of spoken word and R&B took place this weekend as Lexus Verses and Flow presented the seventh episode of Season Four. Ruben Studdard, the second season American Idol winner and second winner to appear this season, was the special musical guest, while poets Jasmine Williams, Jive Poetic, Joshua Bennett and Zora Howard supplied the lyrical wordplay.

Williams, a Los Angeles native, was first up to the stage with her piece “I Faced A Bully.” The poem is really an ode to self-acceptance, and the San Francisco State University grad laid everything bare: “I’m going to love myself naked, in full sunlight, bright and bold. The moles are the connect the dots. The X marks the spot that I have arrived!” Saying the words is one thing, she emphasized. But believing it? That’s the goal. “I’m not confined by your words anymore… not “fat”, not “ugly”, not “good enough.” I am more than enough… especially bare and naked.”

Jive Poetic may wear many hats as a DJ and teacher, but on this night, with the knowledge he was dropping on the Verses and Flow audience, he might want to keep his poetry hat fastened tightly. His poem, “Grapes/Clones,” was so on point, it made the audience gasp in response. This one question made everyone scratch their heads: “How is it possible for seedless fruit to exist?” Using the grape as an example, the New York native listed the ways scientists are “dipping their fingers in biological engineering, cloning and altering the genetic makeup of our food.” His conspiracy theories didn’t stop there, with the cloning of people not seeming so farfetched. “Immoral doesn’t mean illegal,” he concluded, “so secretly cloned people are being produced on conveyor belts in controlled environments with the intention of having them leak into the general population to replace the unfavorable individuals…” Hmmm… Definitely something to think about.

The night’s third poem was presented by two members of New York-based The Strivers Row—Joshua Bennett, making his Verses and Flow debut, and Zora Howard, who appeared during Season Two. The duo’s piece, “Still Life With Police Sirens,” chronicled what was supposed to be a fictitious car ride with their father, but could’ve easily been a story ripped from the headlines in this time of DWB, or Driving While Black. “They’re looking for two suspects in a cream Nissan. A liquor store was robbed just two blocks away and our car isn’t cream, and not a Nissan either… Right now, I am focused on the officer’s hands, his impatient gun, the infinity between being here and not, the stories I can no longer keep track of.” It was a reminder, as if we needed one, that a black boy’s life isn’t guaranteed. “Them Boys In Blue Pull Quick, Don’t Think. Ma Scared, Ma Strong, Ma Blink… Son’s Gone.”

Ruben Studdard performed two songs during the show, including his classic, GRAMMY-nominated track “Sorry 2004.” Social media swooned along with the studio audience, with most marveling at how great Studdard looked since his much publicized weight loss.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #VersesandFlow. Next week is the season finale, and we promise, it will be an unforgettable one. Rock with us.    

SEASON FOUR EPISODE SIX: “MIC CHECK”

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Season Four of Lexus Verses and Flow has featured its fair share of iconic singers and spoken word artists, all of whom provided “verses” that will stay with us and hopefully move us in some way. This week’s offering, however, showcasing the talents of seven-time GRAMMY nominated artist Joe and award-winning poets DDE The Slammer, Obbie West and Lady Caress, was definitely more of a “flow” episode, depending heavily on music and messaging to remind us to check ourselves.

DDE The Slammer (the DDE is the combination of 2 pen names—Daonocto and Dark Eyes) led off the show with his cautionary piece “Royalty Reality Check,” letting the audience know that when Drake said we “started from the bottom,” he wasn’t telling the whole truth. “We started at the top, got knocked down and were convinced it was our place, settled for mediocrity, got a little better, and called it ‘here’,” he asserted. He reminded us that we were kings and queens, and a society based on hashtags has made us symbolically less than. “Instead of trying to change the beat, we keep getting beat by the street… At what point did our kings go from queens to wed to hand maidens in bed? And why are our queens taking the role of court jesters and and get confused when they’re laughed at?”  

Next up was Oklahoma City, OK resident Obbie West with his piece “Art Form,” which could easily be the mantra for every spoken word artist. West made it clear that “it’s not spoken word just because you’re speaking a bunch of words… this platform was formed for foolery.” He warned all who took to the stage to take their words seriously, and to “continue to reinforce the force of spoken words by sparking verbs and nouns. We have to take action now, despite the person, place or theme, the only adjective imaginative when describing your piece should be the word POWERFUL.”

Lady Caress, straight out of Jacksonville, FL, made her debut on the Verses and Flow stage and nearly stole the show with her verbal gymnastics. Her unique delivery—which included beat boxing (!!!)—of the relationship poem “Kick and Snare” brought the crowd to its feet. She explained that “our love started out as just this simple melody, so sweet… but what is a song without the beat?” There are ups and downs in every relationship—highs and lows, treble and bass, kick and snare—that, if not checked, can turn into “that song on the radio that makes you crazy.”

Joe’s contribution to this week’s “flow” included his new song “Love & Sex” and the classic “I Wanna Know,” and the audience couldn’t get enough. What’s amazing is that his voice is still so solid, so smooth after two decades in the game, some of social media actually thought he was lip syncing. If that’s not a testament to greatness, then really, what is?

What did you think of this week’s episode? Will you check and make sure you’re starting from the top? Which beat would best describe your relationship? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #VersesandFlow. Next week, we get a rare spoken word duet and a visit from a velvet Teddy Bear. Get. Ready.   

DDE the Slammer - The Reality Check

This Saturday on an all new episode of Lexus Verses and Flow, DDE the Slammer will give us a reality check on where we started…… and where we are. But before the Indiana native broke down the facts, we sat down with him and talked honestly about some words that are a part of his reality.

This is what he had to say:

Favorite Word: Belly Swag (we didn’t go into detail)

Least Favorite Word: Hate

Words You Use to Inspire Others: Pistoles Verbales- It means verbal gunman. We need to make changes and take “shots” at status quo and preconceptions with our words. Stop using violence to get whatever we want and find solutions.

Check him out on Saturday alongside Obbie West, Lady Caress and musical guest Joe on TV One at 10/9c.

Obbie West- Married to Poetry!

The Los Angeles native who now resides in Oklahoma, says his marriage to poetry began in Texas.  His love affair with words is apparent in his performance of the poem “Art Form.” Before Obbie West made his television debut on Lexus Verses and Flow, he sat down with us to share some words he has a great relationship with…

Favorite Word: Poetry

Least Favorite Word: Insecurity

Words You Use to Inspire Others: ” There’s a million people that did it before you , and I guarantee that they’re no better than you are. So if they did it, you can do it.”

Catch Obbie West along with DDE the Slammer, Lady Caress and musical guest Joe, this Saturday at 10/9c on TV One!

The Art of Communication Through Words and Sounds!

This weeks’ episode of Lexus Verses and Flow has one female that hits the stage…… Lady Caress.  Caress brings her theatrics and unique style of poetry to the stage and holds her male counterparts Obbie West, DDE the Slammer, and musical guest Joe.

Before Caress hit the stage to rock the crowd (you will love her performance) she sat down with us on set, and shared some choice words.

See what she had to say:

Favorite Word: Falafel (anybody hungry)

Least Favorite Word: Sooooo? 

Words You Live By: “Gotta have options”

Favorite Poem: “For Your Own Protection” by GeorgiaMe (She was on season one of Verses and Flow in case you are keeping a tally)

Be sure to tune in this Saturday to TV One at 10pm/9C and see Lady Caress’ performance!

Writer Will Dawson makes the magic happen behind the scenes at Verses and Flow because he has the opportunity to sit down with all of the poets and music artists from each episode.

Here’s a small sample…..

harlemink:

NEW: This week on the work site, check my conversations with #Lexus #VersesandFlow Season 4 Episode 5 artists @LeelaJamesOfficial and @SebastianMikael. Links: Leela James— http://www.luxuryawaits.com/versesandflow/season-4/artists-season-4/leela-james/ Sebastian Mikael— http://www.luxuryawaits.com/versesandflow/season-4/artists-season-4/sebastian-mikael/ #spokenword #rnb #rockwithus

SEASON FOUR EPISODE FIVE: “THE STRETCH RUN”

This past weekend marked the start of Lexus Verses and Flow’s second half. With music by powerhouse vocalists and award-winning artists Leela James and Anthony Hamilton, plus the nuanced newcomer Sebastian Mikael, and spoken word from Tonya Ingram, Michael “Chief” Peterson and Deonte Scott, it’s safe to say that the show’s stretch run got off to a great start.

Peterson was up first with the piece “Nahla,” about a student he described as one of the strongest people he’s ever met. “Our 9/11 is her 24/7,” he said of the Muslim youngster from Palestine trying to make her way in America. “She was four when that happened,” he continued, “and has now grown into a lady with long black hair… or is it short and brown?” Peterson praised her perseverance and integrity, calling Nahla a poet with a voice that just wants to be heard.

Ingram, straight out of Los Angeles by way of Cincinnati and New York City, performed the piece “Unsolicited Advice,” which intentionally played as a list of sage advice to oneself. One such nugget of wisdom: “When you learn to do the Dougie and it’s 2011, show it off to everyone you know. When you learn to do the original Harlem Shake and it’s 2011, keep it to yourself.” Her words then took root and went deep: “When the older woman with silver hair and loose teeth calls you the N word, give her the finger. Give her Jay Z’s The Blueprint. Give her The Word of God… When your mother’s ex-boyfriend puts his hands on your mother, grab the phone. Grab a knife. Grab your voice. This is Armageddon. This is taking back what the devil has stolen. Do not fear. Do not cower. Do not question.”

Chicago native Scott’s story is inspiring, being one of a handful of poets who’d submitted auditions for each season of Verses and Flow. Finally making it to the main stage, Scott definitely took advantage of his moment by performing the poignant piece “Run.” “I was put here to help the kid who is repeatedly being abused by his mother,” he proclaimed. “I was put here to show him that everything isn’t about black and white but he too can dream and live in color. I was put here to tell him to RUN, RUN SON… Run from the hands that try to abuse you. Run from the words and the people that try to misuse you.” He encouraged everyone listening to “run to those moments where you’re up at 3am and can’t sleep at night, because in those moments greatness is born and the price you pay ain’t deep…”

Sebastian Mikael, who was born in Sweden and attended the Berklee School of Music, took the stage and performed his hit “Forever and a Day.” James and Hamilton, whose collaboration on the song “Say I Do” has garnered major award buzz, closed the show with the duet, bringing the audience to its feet with their foot-stomping energy.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Are you ready to Run? What advice would you give yourself based on lessons learned? What young person in your life inspires you? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #VersesandFlow. And get ready, because this season’s stretch run will be a memorable one, for sure.  

In Their Own Words…… Tim “Toaster” Henderson, Phenomenon the Poet and Black Ice!

Poets are masters with words and prolific with the pen. Behind the scenes at Verses and Flow, we like to throw rapid fire questions at them….. at test what comes to mind……. See what happened when we sat down with Tim “Toaster” Henderson, Phenomenon the Poet and Black Ice.

Tim “Toaster” Henderson

Least Favorite Word: Privilege

Words You Live By: Be Big!

Words You Use to Inspire Others: It’s possible and you can do it!

Phenomenon the Poet

Favorite Word: Please

Least Favorite Word: NO

Words You Use to Inspire Others: Today is all you need!

Black Ice

Favorite Word: Free

Least Favorite Word: No (He and Phenomenon are on the same page)

Words You Use to Inspire Others: Integrity & Honesty!

SEASON FOUR EPISODE THREE/FOUR: “DOUBLE DOWN”

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. 

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