Wednesday, April 29, 2009


If you reside in Nigeria especially Lagos then you must have heard spoken word atleast once unless you don't have a
TV-probably you have been crushed by economic recession for the last 3years or you are a deeper life member.Otherwise
you must have heard the signature oral rendition of poetry on Hip TV by sage.That is spoken word.
Like any other art
it is a vent for expression.Spoken word is like hiphop without beats(though attimes it is accompanied by mild sounds
from mostly the konga)with dense lyrics,conscious content layed out in rhymes and rythmes.It is spoken poetry!It
thrives on oratory prowess as the poem must be heard,rhymes felt and the rhythme with the help of the mastery of tone
-timing,stress,silence e.t.c deliver the intended impact on the listeners.Don't be puzzled you don't know spoken word.
It is not globally well known like it's counterparts hiphop and rap.It is chiefly alive amongst the african americans.
Talib Kweli,Tupac,The last poets e.t.c are tad examples of black american spoken word poets.there is just a thin line
between spoken word and hip hop(note,hip hop not rap).They are both a state of mind,employ poetry but the former is
deeper.In the 1960's,The Last Poets brought spoken word to limelight but it faded to obscurity years later.Then in the
1990's Michael Algonquin brought it back on the horizon and since then the sky has been its limit.The music business
mogul-Russell Simmons,holds an annual word slam competition for spoken word poets with thousand in attendance;a sort
of American Idol.But beyond the african american romance with spoken word,spoken word has been around since the
rudimentary ages of man when he wasn't civilised enough to write so poetry had to be done orally.
Like other afro american music cultures-Jazz,Rap,Hip hop e.t.c,Spoken word has also filtered down to Nigeria.In a
journalistic quest to probe this happening,I tried to overturned the Olumo rock all in a bid to make sure I left no
stone unturned but all to no avail.Spoken word shot out of obscurity in Nigeria with Sage's performance at the 2006
Hip Hop World Awards.It was electrifying.Lagos,Nigeria was watching.Spoken word became a city on a hill,it could no
longer be hidden in Nigeria.Spoken word became the lighted torch that gave light to a whole room and pulled flies and
insects to it's orbit.Nigeria saw something new and poetic and thirsty souls were won over.Trailing the growth of
spoken word in Nigeria in the last 3years is foggy but it has grown from the nurturing of institutions like Goethe
Institut,British Council,African Art Foundation e.t.c who organize workshops and/or randevous-word slam,Wapi,Writer's
Anonymous respectively for spoken word poets to learn,develop,compete and interact.Though spoken word in Nigeria is
still a baby,it has already birthed talented spoken word artistes in the likes of Beautiful Nubia,Storytellers,Sage
Hasson,Jumoke Fola Alade e.t.c who have all released a spoken word album.
Spoken word is a serious form of art and it is apt for expressions of emotions-fraustration,hope,faith e.t.c of the
Nigerian.Hopefully,it is here to stay.