Theorizing Black Music, Theorizing Black Poetry

[By Goyland Williams] Last semester, I had the privilege of taking a course entitled Theorizing Black Music, Theorizing Black Poetry. My curiosity was sparked throughout the course as significant connections were made between themes in blues lyrics and those in African-American poetry. Given the long history of the black oral tradition, the African-American musical tradition has merely been an extension of that narrative and has […]

Contemporary Toasts By Black Women in Music

[By Alysha Griffin] The space for women to enter into Hip Hop is a small one. However, once through, female singers and emcees have held their own against the objectifying and misogynistic nature of Hip Hop culture. Although few have entered on the Hip Hop stage, many have established their lyrical dominance and street credibility. For this, HBW salutes contemporary, female “toast masters.” “Roxanne’s Revenge” […]

Break It Down: Ask Your Mama–Excerpt from “Horn of Plenty”

“Break It Down” is an HBW Literary Blog initiative that strives to offer critical interpretations of song lyrics, excerpts from novels, and poems. This week, Blog Contributor Alysha Griffin has analyzed an excerpt from Langston Hughes’s Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz. She continues her conversation from yesterday as she looks at an excerpt from “Horn of Plenty.”                                                                                                          “Hesitation                                                                                                          Blues” 8 bars. I MOVED […]

Ask Your Mama: Langston Hughes and Afrofuturism

[By Alysha Griffin] My best friends and I used to be fond of playing the dozens—particularly, exchanging “yo’ mama” jokes. Too young to realize how problematic this was from a historical angle, we realized that this was probably something we should avoid only when the battles ended with a fist fight and/or punishment from someone’s angry mother- my best friends were also my first cousins. […]

The Uncommon Intellect of the Amistad Rebels: Kevin Young’s Ardency

 [By Howard Rambsy II] Kevin Young’s Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels about the famous slave ship revolt and aftermath is a powerful work—a strong volume of poetry and historical document. Among other attributes, Ardency raises awareness about the intellectual capabilities of the Mendi people of Sierra Leone. People with some knowledge about the Amistad and the subsequent case are likely familiar with the […]

Break It Down: Flight To Canada

[By Alysha Griffin] “Break It Down” is a new HBW Literary Blog initiative that strives to offer critical interpretations of song lyrics, excerpts from novels, and poems. This week, Blog Contributor Alysha Griffin has analyzed Ishmael Reed’s poem, “Flight to Canada.” *Hold cursor over underlined text to display comments Dear Massa Swille: What it was?“Massa Swille” is the master of the fugitive slave Quickskill in […]