‘Xplicit’ social message

Poetry night mixes music, hip-hop

| Robin Siteneski reporter |

Hip-hop and poetry were in the limelight Monday night, Feb. 17, at the U-Club when the Office of Student Diversity presented a night of spoken-word poetry.
Part of the Black History Month celebrations, the poet Xplicit was joined on stage by Tebe Zalango, who surprised the audience with poetry, violin music and song.
“My name is Brandon – my poetry name is Xplicit – but my mama calls me Brandon, so you can call me Brandon,” he said, setting an intimate tone.
Brandon Thornton shifted from hip-hop to poetry seven years ago. He now divides his time between teaching high-school math and traveling the country to perform. He says the transition from hip-hop to poetry was “seamless.”
The 30-year-old poet from St. Louis, Mo., says he turned away from hip-hop because of its negative image. Poetry, Thornton says, has the same goal of sharing and touching people’s lives without being perceived as negative.
He asked audience members to snap their fingers when hearing something they liked. Some of the performance bits that got the most snaps and laughs were when he talked about relationships.
“Relationships should have a return policy: If I’m not satisfied, bring you back with a receipt and get refunded my time,” he said.
Zalango first approached the mic playing violin and then recited poetry in a hip-hop style with his eyes shut most of the time. The 29-year-old from Decatur, Ill., started to play the violin in kindergarten. His performance name means shield/protected in an African language.
Zalango says he doesn’t write what he performs. Like Jay-Z, he recites his work until he feels it’s ready. He also owns a grill restaurant, although he’s been a vegetarian for eight years.
His music and singing were the favorite parts of the night for Shontae Cobb, junior in construction management.
“It brought a certain energy to the performance and a certain style,” she said.

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