Kansas City Hip Hop Poets Use Rhymes for Performance Activism October 18, 2010

KCYeats and Whitman lovers may not get the Recipe.

But that’s OK with Priest and 337, the two Kansas City hip-hop poets who make up the duo. Theodore Hughes, 44, and Desmond Jones, 34, grew up in the inner city, and they know they’ve taken what Robert Frost called the road less traveled. The two use poetic verse for performance activism, appearing at events in the city and traveling the country to rant theatrically on nuclear arms, West Bank occupation, gay rights, minority issues, gang violence and even the Power & Light District’s dress code.

“If it’s unjust, we’re going to talk about it,” Hughes said. “It’s not about our careers. It’s about what’s wrong. We know some people hate what we do.” He paused: “But they’re listening.”

Earlier this month, while nuclear weapons protesters were getting tossed from a City Council meeting, the Recipe was across the street in Ilus Davis Park slamming the United States for not drawing down its nuclear arsenal. Their rhyme included these lines:

“An underhanded bandit,

trying to big brother the planet,

checking pockets

and pointing rockets.

Courting doubt.

Disarmament’s what’s this all about.

The U.S. acts like Napoleon on the block,

trying to see what the competition got.”

They did the same piece in May at a nonproliferation treaty rally in New York’s Times Square. “Give out a shout out for the Recipe from Kansas City,” a woman said when introducing them to the crowd. But political activism is not their only gig. For full story click here.

Story Credit, Kansas City Star.