After attending my first Allsortz Open Mic tonight, I’m sitting here wondering how I could have missed out on such a great set of performances all this time. After having been continuously disappointed by too much mediocre spoken word all delivered in the same lame monotone, I willed myself to retain an open mind and was pleasantly surprised to stumble across so much talent in one evening.
First up was @AnnieAshia, a spoken word artist who was right down my street. She started out by voicing her fears about speaking but etched herself into my memory with some very memorable lines. Addressing how race and class oppression can eradicate all sense of self-esteem, she spoke herself into existence tonight and reminded us all that blackness is not a curse but a blessing, and we need to continue seeing the light in the darkness. Annie had an energy that drew power from her struggles. She used poetry to explore the conundrum of identity in a society that tries to compress heritage into a sentence that fits onto a dotted line when in reality identity is a much more complex phenomenon.
@KirtisFranklyn tied in with Annie in the way that both centred their work on identity. Kirtis pointed to the fact that despite how well you speak, and generally do well, this does not keep away the stereotyping in a white supremacist society. He criticised a system that claims to operate on a basis of meritocracy but in reality is ridden with oppression, and encouraged us all to decolonise our minds so we can be free.
@MOAK_TP also touched on identity and spoke about black masculinity and the pressures that come with it. He talked about love using the metaphor of tea, referring to one particular girl as the taste of that cup of tea with brown sugar you crave in the morning. Unfortunately, she turned out too hot to handle and life taught him he had to take his last sip.
Katie Louise (aka @KlastroLdn) and Charlotte made a good ensemble who first performed together before Charlotte took the stage in an Adele-like performance with a voice that wasn’t afraid to hit the tricky notes and sing of an alternative universe. She was also the backdrop to Katie’s poems, strumming on her guitar, while Katie talked about mankind and how stress and competitiveness disable us from enjoying the pleasures of life. Both lit up the stage with their positive attitude.
@IAmSamWay blew me away with the kind of sound that makes you envision yourself dancing under a clear blue sky on a sandy beach with no shoes on while he sings about love and turns the most mundane topic into a banger about eggs and base. Sam had the audience clapping to his sing-along tunes and his energy kept the audience entertained.
Among my favourite acts tonight was @DCSCRIBBLA whose old-school rap took me right back to a street in Brooklyn and into one of those hip-hop films we all love to watch. Bobbing our heads, he had us all join him in his song ‘Valentine’, which was definitely my highlight performance of the night. It had the right flow and I’m a sucker for love so his lines about kissing and hugging, and special connections struck a note.
@THEE_NARKO ’s open mic piece about relationships was surprisingly refreshing because it pointed to the fact that it’s not always the guy who does the girl wrong but the former can be just as hurt by actions of the latter. Other acts included Jason Pilley, who had a fierce energy throughout his entire performance and @BoyNash who closed the night with tracks of his new EP ‘God’s Image II’, rapping about his dreams and visions for the future.
Posted on the Allsortz Open Mic website on 22 July 2014 http://allsortzopenmic.co.uk/2014/07/22/allsortz-open-mic-july-2014/