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Peep Game: 5 Musicians You May Not Have Known to be Poets
A literary listicle.
There is a lot about the 21st century to not like, but one major advantage is that artists have more flexibility than ever to experiment and try out different forms of creativity due to the access that the internet provides.
I believe because we are in the gig economy and the streaming era, many artists will love multiple forms of art. In this century we have more poets than ever before (a good problem if you ask me). At the same time, you might often find yourself surprised when artists do write poetry.
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So peep game. Here are five artists you may not have known are also poets:
1) Ice Spice
Yes, Ice Spice is known to have written poetry and raps throughout high school. She even eventually focused on poetry. Ice Spice’s music has got to be heavily influenced by poetry, an art form she began dabbling in at the age of seven.
2) Tarriona Tank Ball from Tank and the Bangas
You may know Tank from the (New Orleans) band Tank and The Bangas. You can watch their Tiny Desk Concert here. But did you know Tank has a book out with poetry powerhouse Andrews McMeel Publishing? You can find Vulnerable AF at your local library, on Libby, or at your favorite bookstore.
I recently learned about Noname during the 2020 pandemic when I started exploring the topic of education for the incarcerated. From there I discovered an S tier diss track aimed at J. Cole, some songs that made me want to fight the power, and a book club. I did not know that Noname came up in the Chicago Youth poetry scene, with—funnily enough—the next artist on our list: Chance the Rapper.
4) Chance the Rapper
That’s right, Chance the Rapper used to be a slam poet, in a scene that also included Jamila Woods, Noname, and poet-professor Nate Marshall. It must be dope to be from the Chi if you are a poet. I’m just sayin’. You can see him perform “The Other Side” during his Tiny Desk concert (poem starts just after the 5:40 mark).
5) Gil Scott-Heron
The jazz musician and singer might have even influenced some of your favorite artists with “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” a poemsong that still influences creators today. If you haven’t heard it, give it a listen—it’s one of the most powerful three minutes you could experience.
Of course, these are only five musicians. There’s a whole world in the overlap between musicians and poets, and it’s worth exploring which of your favorite creators dabble in other fields. Who knows, you might find out your favorite singer is actually your favorite poet, too!
Can you think of any others to add to this list? Let us know in the comments!