Spoken word poetry has been an art form since long before the written word. As culture changed around the world, the art of spoken word poetry went with it. While the spoken word poetry has evolved like the people who participate in it, the tradition of spoken word poetry is alive and thriving today in the United States due in part to poets like Vachel Lindsay, Robert Frost, and Robert Pinsky.
Story | Madison Lippincott
Oakland singer, songwriter and poet Dom Jones released her sophomore LP Blackbird. This not-so-ordinary album features six full-length tracks that are a pleasant but hard-hitting combination of spoken word and rap.
According to the album description, Blackbird was inspired by Nina Simone, a singer/songwriter and civil rights activist. Nina Simone was known for drawing on personal accounts, such as her African-American origins. Early in her career, Nina used her music as a catalyst to convey the struggles of African Americans. Jones does the same thing with her spoken word for feminism.
Blackbird, essentially, is to modern-day feminism what Nina at the Village Gate was to the civil rights movement. Nina Simone used her musical talents and recognition to spread the word about civil rights and it is this act specifically that Dom Jones draws her inspiration.
We’re made aware of this right off the bat with track #1: “RapeCulture.” Just as Nina Simone drew on social issues of her time, Dom Jones draws on the current social issue, for lack of a better descriptor, that is rape culture.
You were kinda flirting
You should wear longer skirts, Queen
How many drinks did you say you had?
Would your interrogation make him any less of a rapist?
Or do your means and conspiracies just make you a sadist?
Would you paint this a logical picture where your promotion of patriarchy and so-called sympathy can coexist?
Would you be remised not to mention that he was just a victim of his loneliness?
Line after spoken line of this song reflects on the real struggles women experience in the rape culture we live in. Most are not only lines of a poem or lyrics of a song, but actual, terrifying sentences that have actually been spoken to women who have been victimized and/or sexually assaulted. As seen in the lines above, women are often blamed for their rape and/or assault through questions involving what they were wearing or how much alcohol they consumed.
In my mind, it’s never fully about one thing I’m doing. It’s about the qualitative amalgamation of things. #DomEmpire
— Dom Jones™ (@IAMdomjones) July 29, 2016
The rest of the album oozes the same passion as “RapeCulture”. However, as with a great deal of poetry, a lot of the material is rather subjective and can be interpreted in a number of different ways.
“Sound” discusses the tragedy of miscarriage. With heartbreaking lyrics set to calm piano and a slow beat, Jones seems to speak to an unknown individual who is presumably the father of a miscarried child.
I wanted to name him after you
You wanted to name her after what we love to do
I turned my back on the sun, reflecting
Death pouring from me when I lost our seed
We didn’t cry
I kept trying to bear your children
And melodies turned harmonies
You kept ignoring the loss
The chorus of this song goes on the say “don’t make a sound”. Jones is shedding light on the stigma that hangs around miscarriages. Often times miscarriages are quickly dismissed as long as the mother remains healthy. Women who are victims of miscarriages are expected to keep this to themselves. This stems from hundreds of years ago when women were only good for bearing children.
“Blackbird”, the last track on the album, touches on her African roots and the discrimination against black Americans that can still be found in our culture today.
They say my lineage is limiting
Not knowing I ain’t always been slave
Been queen, been ruler, been culture, been cooler
The Black Hand side, black matter alive
A breathing movement, Earth stoked by fire
And I’ll fly
Like her inspiration for the entire album, Jones is speaking up for the rights of African Americans and speaking out for the modern civil rights movement known at the Black Lives Matter movement.
Blackbird is currently available at iamdomjones.com.