It all started innocently enough: I would take a thirty minute walk around downtown with my camera, take a few pictures I had in mind, like one of my friend Ricky at Swagger and enjoy the usually pleasant night air. I found Ricky who commented on my t-shirt, which contained a somewhat political message. He said he had the same t-shirt. That’s when the man he was sitting with asked me to come over and show it to him, which I did. He stared at it for sometime as my uneasiness grew and he seemed to be gaging me, taking measure, selecting his words carefully.
What followed was forty-five minutes of intense non-stop, hip-hop ice and fire. This was my introduction to Elder Beat Master. He’s from Philadelphia, but calls Knoxville home and is an integral piece of the local spoken poetry community. While helping sponsor slams,like the recent Southern Fried Poetry Slam he does not participate because poetry is not a competition, it is a calling. It is a calling that he has heard and to which he has responded. (Check it out) As we talked he became more intense and more revelatory. His words bounced and ricocheted through the early evening air like heat lightning popping through the atmosphere. He rapped, sang, raised his hands to the heavens and brought forth about God, America, the prophets and life on the street.
His work is slowly being documented, but he says he is keeping some of his poetry to himself, awaiting the right time to open it up to the world. From living on the street and living in the hell of drugs, he came back because he believes. His beliefs are not strictly Christian or orhtodox to any religion, but to the religion of hip hop, which he slams home has nothing to do with commercial rap music. His music is about hope, belief and challenging what we’ve been told or convinced to believe. He knows the Bible better than many people who say they are of that word. He’s a thinker, a poet and a very well-read philosopher.
As a Man Thinketh: Keepsake Edition
Warning, Nonsense Is Destroying America
Religious Transformations in the Early Modern World: A Brief History with Documents (The Bedford Series in History and Culture)