WORD ON STREETIf Word on the Street proves any­thing, it’s that real hip-hop is still inter­twined with poetry. On Wed­nes­day 5th Septem­ber, Word on the Street cel­eb­rated its second birth­day. Tak­ing place on the first Wed­nes­day of every month, Word on the Street was foun­ded as a show­case of spoken word poetry, dee­jay­ing and rap per­form­ances. In the short time the scheme has been act­ive, they have fea­tured Mer­cury Award win­ners, Slam Champs, and upcom­ing rap­pers and authors.

Them­at­ic­ally, the spoken word pieces touched many areas. Poet Woodzy delivered a light-hearted superb nos­tal­gia filled piece dwell­ing on the finer points of grow­ing up in the 1990s. Hil­ari­ously, Jamal Has­san focused on an embar­rass­ing but side-split­tingly funny story involving filth and a bad date. But back to the mar­riage of music and poetry. Zena Edwards blen­ded a rhythmic cadence, copi­ous rap ref­er­ences with a nar­rat­ive about fall­ing in love with hip-hop.

Per­haps the best part of the spoken word pieces came from the acclaimed Salena God­den. God­den has been short­l­is­ted for the Ted Hughes Award, Guard­i­an short story prize and is renowned for the strik­ing and dir­ect style of her work. God­den has recently released ‘Pess­im­ism is for Light­weights – 13 Pieces of Cour­age and Res­ist­ance’. Her first piece was a love let­ter to troubled poets — which admit­tedly might seem redund­ant as the tor­tured poet is the quint­es­sen­tial arche­type, how­ever God­den refresh­ingly used her voice to decon­struct how class affects cre­at­ives and offers an homage to the dia­monds in the rough. God­den said:

I loved troubled poets. Troubled in refugee camps, troubled in children’s homes, troubled in shop door­ways, sleep­ing rough in rain-soaked rags…using news­pa­per as a san­it­ary tow­el”.

Where Word on the Street shines is its abil­ity to show­case such a won­der­ful vari­ety of per­form­ance styles and pieces. On the music side of things, DJ Shorty set a won­der­ful tone for the night, spin­ning mostly old school hip hop. Addi­tion­ally, Shaheed demon­strated his haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful and power­ful voice whilst Zena Edwards went back to the ances­tral roots of hip-hop and involved the audi­ence in a call and response song. Thomas Owoo, also known as ‘The Ghetto Geek’, a primary school teach­er by day and a poet by night, hil­ari­ously gif­ted us with a socially con­scious and enter­tain­ing exam­in­a­tion on Marx­ism, edu­ca­tion and ste­reo­types. Crit­ic­ally acclaimed rap­per Mikill Pane was also one of the key head­liners for the night and per­formed They Talk off his 2016 album ‘Let MC It’.

The night closed off with an open cypher which fea­tured top-tier tal­ent, with Broken Pen and Woodzy giv­ing impress­ive verses. We need to shout out True­Mend­ous, who in terms of everything I have seen in the under­ground scene this year, her word­play and com­plex flow eas­ily stand out as the best I have seen. She recently released ‘Alphalympics’ with Sony1418 and it’d be great to see more releases from her in the future.

Word on the Street returns on the first Wed­nes­day of every month. Even in just its second birth­day, Word on the Street has had a strong start in the artist­ic com­munity in Lon­don. One can only look for­ward to cel­eb­rat­ing more birth­days with them.

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Mark Mukasa

Mark Mukasa

Mark is a South Lon­don based writer and avid fan of all things hip hop. He’s also an MMA and his­tory enthu­si­ast who tries to keep his love of animé under wraps.

About Mark Mukasa

Mark Mukasa
Mark is a South London based writer and avid fan of all things hip hop. He's also an MMA and history enthusiast who tries to keep his love of anime under wraps.