2. OPINE SEASON
Between March and right now, I’ve written 31 op-eds for new MN-based op-ed co-op Opine Season. The brainchild of Matt Peiken, the site has featured opinion writing from some of my favorite Twin Cities writers: Kao Kalia Yang, Chaun Webster, Ricardo Levins Morales, Vina Kay and more, plus guest-pieces from writers like David Mura and Bao Phi. I’m honored to be in such good company, and am very proud of how much of an impact (both in terms of raw traffic stats and community chatter) the site has made, despite being brand-new and completely community-driven. My full archive is here, though here are a few standout posts:
- An Open Letter to White People About Trayvon Martin: this was published the night after the Zimmerman verdict, and blew up on social media. I even appeared on MSNBC to talk about it. This was the first in a series of pieces on race, power and whiteness.
- How Men Can Take an Active Role in Disrupting and Dismantling Rape Culture: I wrote a lot about gender and feminism this year too. A piece on MRAs got the most attention, but this one, plus this one on sexism in indie hip hop, were favorites.
- 8 Responses to Common Pop Culture Arguments About Offensiveness: another ongoing theme this year was attempting to reframe how we talk about “offensiveness.” I wrote a bunch about language, power dynamics and more, including the next point.
3. NEW POEM VIDEOS, including “A Visit From the PC Police”
4. GOING VIRAL, via BUTTON POETRY and UPWORTHY
My friends at Button Poetry have been capturing performance poetry all over the country, and really blew up this year. My poem “Ten Responses to the Phrase ‘Man Up'” got featured on Upworthy, and my poem “REACH” got released right before the holiday season. I also had a piece published in Button’s e-book “Viral,” which you can order here.
5. BRAVE NEW VOICES
I had the pleasure of working with Tish Jones of TruArtSpeaks on rebuilding and rebranding the youth spoken-word scene in Minnesota. We traveled to a bunch of schools, met hundreds of young artists, and Tish did a hell of a job organizing a whole series of slams to pick a team to represent MN at Brave New Voices. I was the coach, and it was inspiring to witness the growth of these brilliant young artists over the course of an entire summer. Even bigger things coming next year.
6. ARTIST RESIDENCIES IN SCHOOLS
A big part of my work that doesn’t get as much attention is working in schools. Through COMPAS, I engage in artist residencies in middle and high schools throughout Minnesota. Sometimes these are just performances, but they’re usually week-long residencies, where I get to teach multiple classes every day and basically just talk about writing and performance with hundreds of MN students. It’s an incredible gig, and this year I was in dozens of different schools.
7. TRAVELING TO COLLEGES
Aside from working with teens, I also got to travel to dozens of colleges and universities all over the country this year. Between performing, guest-lecturing and facilitating social justice-oriented workshops, I was on the road for much of the year. One standout gig was at El Centro College in Dallas, where I got to stay for a full week and really engage with students. If you want to bring me to YOUR school, check this out.
8. OTHER SHOWS
While college performances are my bread-and-butter, I still get to play the occasional rap show here and there, including a few big ones this year. I played the CD release parties of Mixed Blood Majority, Common Labor, See More Perspective and Homeless; opened for Saul Williams, performed in the First Ave. Mainroom again, played at the MN State Fair, continued the Hip Hop Against Homophobia series, and played a bunch of festivals: the Red Hot Art & Music Festival, the Future History Festival, the Phillips Music Festival, the Grounds & Sounds Festival, and more I’m probably forgetting. I also performed a commissioned piece at the Child Neurology Foundation gala. I also gave a few keynote speeches, played more benefits and fundraisers than anyone else in the universe, and generally just kept busy. Ongoing list of past shows here.
9. OTHER MUSICAL RELEASES
Beyond Sifu Hotman, I got to release a few random songs this year, really just for fun. The video above was shot and edited by Adam J. Dunn and is a personal favorite. Free downloads:
- This is the Opposite of a Suicide Note (Graham O’Brien Remix)
- The Fourth Wall (Katrah-Quey Remix w/ Lydia Liza of Bomba de Luz)
- Updated Guante FREE SAMPLER MIX (including these two songs and more)