Gemini season is upon us, and for some strange reason this season has birthed many of today’s beloved hip-hop favorites including Andre 3000, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur to name a few. Regardless of how much you may like or dislike these artists, there’s one undeniable trait that these artists have in common – the ability to be unapologetically true to themselves. This trait can occasionally have negative side effects, but little is greater than knowing who you are, your gifts and flaws, and still having the courage to share those intimate components of self with the world. “Black Rage”, a song by a hip-hop artist, actress, songstress, and Gemini, Lauryn Hill, gives us a glimpse of the importance of self-knowledge and courage on the societal level.
When you listen to The Open Mic Pt. 1, LISTEN. Turn off your TV, tell your friend to hush, go on a walk, ignore your cellphone. Idlewild’s ‘The Open Mic Pt. 1′demands your attention, and if you’re not listening, you’ll miss everything.
Tommy Bottoms is a fire-starter in the Spoken Word community. Maybe “fire-starter” is putting it nicely, but with connections throughout the Spoken community and poetry that is both entertaining and mind-opening, no one can deny the work that he has put into his craft.
As co-host ofThe Ugly Truth Radio, perennial performer for BET’s Lyric Cafe and Russell Simmons presents… Def Poetry Jam, and writer/producer ofEducated Gangster 101, Bottoms is a veteran of the Spoken Word scene and ongoing innovator.
His skills have taken him throughout the United States to universities such as Morehouse College, Tuskegee University, and Auburn University, as well as abroad to London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East. His work has brought him in contact with Spoken Word greats like Amir Sulaiman, Queen Sheba, Malik Salaam, and Jon Goode. Tommy Bottoms has been around the game.
He has a style all his own. Each one of his performances treads the line of melodic and lyrical, yet aggressively intellectual. His subject matter – most often sociopolitical, tackles complex problems while remaining accessible to a wide range of audiences. With clever word play and booming voice, he commands an audience’s attention with words as entertaining as they are prolific. However, Bottoms lives his poetry. He is unafraid to piss off his audience if the message needs to be heard, and loves to shine an unflinching light on the ugly side of things.
Echo Chambers is a love letter to not just the Spoken Word, but the Performed Word. The performed word includes everything from stage performance, visual art that uses words, and music. In the case of the latter, I’m a big fan of hip-hop and the lyricism at its essence.
I am not the only one, however. Despite the direction that hip-hop culture has been headed, there remain many worthy messages within the genre. Through Echo Chambers we intend to use this platform as means to explore these themes.
Co-written by Indigo B., Echo Chamber’s newest segment will explore the themes behind different songs in hip-hop as we share thoughts on the messages.