An Audience with a Poet
Written by Omar Kidd Ronin‘ / Interview by Sunjay Kohli
Not long ago I had the chance to meet an inspirational individual, George the Poet. Now I’d read the articles and listened to the poetry. I knew this guy was a conscious guy who had come from a background that should have never landed him in Cambridge university, but what was lesser known until recently was how driven he was to bring his community and all others like it up with him. As he himself said in an interview we conducted with him before the show “I’m very keen on social action, I wanna ensure there is consequences to the things I’m doing. I want everyone to know that’s what I’m really here for, not to just entertain.”
So we roll up to this show, I’m not quite sure what to expect to be honest, I like George’s stuff, it’s cool but he doesn’t hit me in the same way that say Lupe or Common does. I do appreciate him though. I asked who the support would be, neither of us knew. I looked around, the audience was diverse, I was pleasantly surprised to see that subject matter of George’s work was drawing people from many cultures, not just angry black kids or strictly ethnic minority youth and not just young people either.
These guys (and a beautifully curly haired woman) take to the stage, I don’t recognise them. A tall guy with wide eyes and an Adidas jacket takes the mic, he launches into a song. This song though…the Robert Glasper influence drips from every crack of the beat, the bass just hit me and he’s just vibing out on stage. Like not a sound came from the audience, we were just as gone as he was. Long story short, 4 or 5 songs later and the standard was set, the vibe was there. Barney Artist…remember the name…and be sure I’ll remind you of it soon enough guys.
Another dude steps on stage, moves the mic aside and states his name is Shelz the Dancer. A West Londoner who states there are two types of guys where he’s from; “sweet boys and gangsta’s” and he’s going to show us the range of emotion going between the two. Now I’m a bboy…I’m critical of dancers…but you know what I like this guy. His character is on point and when you can dance on The Script’s “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” and kill it I’m intrigued…definitely someone I’d like to train and cypher with, heck I’d love to battle this guy.
So my hype is real now, a jazzy, vibe out mc who has me drooling for more, a dancer who has me wanting to throw down there and then…and now it’s time for George. So he walks on stage…big rain coat looking kind of attire, looks kind of lost and then takes up the mic. Barely into an introduction and his phone rings, he talks to someone saying he’s in the middle of a show and “you know it’s Birmingham fam, you know they’re gonna make noise”. Already I can see this isn’t going to be a typical reel off the latest EP and done with kind of performance. So he breaks down that this story he’s going to tell is going to involve characters and paths…
- Patricia- The Shoot First Path
- Anton- The Walk Away Path
- Jerome- I call this the Drake path…yeah…
With that he launches into “If The Shoe Fits” from The Chicken and the Egg EP, a project which in his words is about
“The cycle of pre-mature parenthood, what we do in relationships and how some of our decisions lead to situations that aren’t the most convenient for the family.”
Each verse shows the character and their path with him breaking it down to explain each one with some great comic relief for the audience. Then he gives us another character…well kind of…Alice in Wonderland. The girl every guy has as a friend who is that quick and easy go to…you know right? Now this is a song again performed like a skit to teach us the importance of sexual choices…it has the desired impact, a joke with a serious truth left behind after the laughter. He then goes into an unreleased song…about a gentlemanly approach to a one night stand…after all London is associated with gentlemen right? He laughs and says “I can comfortably say there’s *&%< all gentlemen in London” By the end of this song he’s changed into a suit, complete with tie and waistcoat. Enter “My City” at a perfect time, he completes the feel good vibe that has been building all night. This is where things get serious though…this is where he revealhttps://www.nubimagazine.com/wp-admin/edit.phps his entire intention for the night.
He exchanges the mic for a stand with his book, “Search Party” on it. It is then he launches into a speech about politics, social situations and brings to a culmination a theme he’s strung through this whole performance of “progressing the conversation” which ends with his point that there still isn’t a Minister for Representation.
“It’s not just about music, its about representation” he said before his performance, with the most earnestness. “When you go into any space, whether its work, or online, or art, you have to represent exactly what you want, and if you’re clear on that, it gives strength to whatever you’re doing, and the BRIT Nomination proves that” speaking on his recent Critic’s Choice Award Nomination.
This is the point you can feel the revelation pass through the entire audience. “People don’t realise their power or aren’t encouraged to exercise their power” he expresses calmly on the sofa of his dressing room. “If we put our minds to transforming a situation as opposed to just narrating it, which happens in Hip Hop a lot.” He ends the show on saying he wants us to join his Search Party and all we need to do is leave our contact details on a ballot card by the fire exit.
As far as a show goes George had the best audience interaction I’ve ever seen…his support acts choice was impeccable, his “rasclart” band were awesome. He enraptured, entranced and inspired all in equal measure, he sold out the tour and I can see why. His on stage persona is him, it’s not an act, a role, it’s George through and through and this honesty, this passion, this fire puts him far beyond the title of just being a poet or mc. Beyond even an entertainer or artist, he is a leader and I for one am proud to say I signed up to be part of his Search Party. So Georgy Porgy, I don’t need pudding and pie, I just need an album release date.
Interview by – Sunjay Kohli