Black Power of Speech
Amiri Baraka and Saul Williams are two big names in Afro-American spoken word.
In the late fifties, Amiri Baraka (1934) made his name as a beat poet under his original name of LeRoi Jones. He was a fellow traveller of Allen Ginsberg et al. In the mid-sixties he decided to join the black nationalists. Ten years later he distanced himself from that movement and became a ‘Third World Socialist’. Among those whom he influenced were The Last Poets, the fathers of hip hop.
Saul Williams (1972) is several generations younger and one of the most powerful voices in alternative hip hop. He is a poet, writer, musician, actor and film-maker. His CD Saul Williams (2004) signalled his breakthrough in Belgium. He collaborated with DJ Spooky on the Not in Our Name project, against the war in Iraq, and with the renowned Arditti String Quartet on NGH WHT – The Dead Emcee Scrolls (2009).