Street music provides taste of Black Culture
By Airman 1st Class Nora Anton, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 13, 2007
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
Iceman Team members will be treated to a singularly unique art form in celebration of Black History Month at 6 p.m. tonight at the Yukon Club, as BASE 24/7 and the African American Heritage Committee host the first-ever Eielson Poetry Slam.
One of the poetry slam's acts is a trio of musicians who will be performing street music with their own twist.
The group, Moment of Clarity, describes their music as a mixture between hip-hop and street music, but also adds the element of guitar to set it apart from the rest.
"It's basically hip-hop, but the thing that is unique is the guitar; that's something you don't really see," said Josh Palos, guitarist and son of Master Sgt. Robert Palos, 354th Military Equal Opportunity chief.
The trio claims collective efforts in writing but most of the lyrics are written by Airman 1st Class Kristopher Noel, lead vocalist and 354th Civil Engineer Squadron fire fighter.
"We all take our own personal experiences into our poetry," said Ashley "Lady H" Hamilton, vocalist and wife of Airman 1st Class Joseph Hamilton, 354th Security Forces Squadron.
"We want our music to be something to be involved in, not just something that is listened to," Airman Noel said. "We write and sing about social issues--things that affect everybody, which is a huge part of the hip-hop culture."
Airman Noel explained the difference between rap and hip-hop, which are commonly mistaken for each other.
"Rap is more of a business; pop artists will rap about money and cars and that's how they make their living, whereas hip-hop is a culture--it's something to live by," he said.
"There is a certain movement coming about," said Sergeant Palos, "to not sing about material things like 'bling' and cars--there are artists who are trying to take hip-hop back to its foundation."
A poem in a relative sense is a piece of literary work composed in metrical or verse form; it is imaginative and normally comprised with elevated thoughts.
In modern-day western society, most poetry that people are exposed to comes in verse form in songs on the radio. However, there lives a genre of poetry that many radio listeners may not be familiar with. Connected closely to the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and the Spoken Word Movement, the art form has been directly influenced by hip-hop, blues, jazz and beat poetry; it's called street music and is particular to African-American culture.
Poetry has been an integral part of developed societies for centuries, from the first-known poem, circa 965 B.C. in Israel, to modern-day commercial hits, poetry has been and continues to be voiced through theater, music, books, and virtually every other media.
Most contemporary American poetry has its roots in England with William Shakespeare, with more substantial development occurring during the modernist movement of the 1920s with E.E. Cummings, Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. In contrast, street music, along with rap and hip-hop, evolved from black diction, vernacular and music, which is a distinct and distinguished oral tradition predating American culture and which is traced back to Africa, said Kalamu ya Salaam, author of "The Magic of Juju: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement."
Children learn at a young age that poetry has evolved alongside with society and society is also affected by it. It has been a companion in illustrating societal issues, emotions and politics--during times of war and peace.
The group will also be performing at the Black History Month Luncheon.
Icemen are encouraged to take part in celebrating African-American culture by attending the poetry slam today and the Black History Month Luncheon 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Yukon Club. Cost is $10.50 for members and $12.50 for nonmembers. The luncheon's guest speaker is Mr. Patrick Lee, University of Alaska-Fairbanks associate athletic director for external affairs. For more information, call Staff Sgt. Shanequa Cox at 377-6503.