Poetic Menace continues to revive hip hop culture
By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen
Poetic Menace struggled as a Detroit recording artist for over 20 years. The independent MC has gone from the highs of being on stage in front of a packed room and holding his own vinyl record in his hands, to the lows of self-doubt and a music industry rigged against him.
But his self-proclaimed marriage to hip hop would not allow him to break free without trying harder to grow with the culture. Today, Poetic Menace is preparing for the release of his second album, and will perform as a guest of singer Courtney Williams, July 19 at for the Urban Soul Entertainment dinner and showcase at the Jazz Café inside The Music Hall.
“I’m so disappointed where hip hop culture is at this point. Change must take place, the change must be swift,” says Poetic Menace. “I try to be an artist where I just make solid music. I’m not making that kiddie music; I’m too old to be making kiddie music. I do music for grown folks — grown folks hip hop.” Poetic Menace says his sound is soulful and has the raw elements of classic hip hop or vintage hip hop. “I’m just trying to be an activist to restore hip hop back to the golden era,” he said.
This golden era, which he describes as the early 1980s to the early 1990s, a time when hip hop was raw, revolutionary and ascending the heights of stardom, influenced Poetic Menace to record his first 12” vinyl single “Rhymezof (Daassassin)” in 1992. He also contributed songs to accompany the Detroit based comic book series Dreadlocks from Urban Style Comics, including the comic-styled music video “Come Feel This.”
“Queen,” featuring Courtney Williams singing the hook and produced by Brian Garrett, is the first single from his upcoming album, “The Second Coming.” Over the acoustic guitar driven track, Poetic Menace balances his lyrics between his sexual desire for his woman and admiration for the strong roles she performs in the world, the type of relationship that would lead a man to call a woman his “Queen.”
The song’s mature theme is an example of how hip hop can grow with the people, beyond childhood dreams of making it big as a rap star. Poetic Menace believes his gift to hip hop is to be an activist for its survival, which means becoming a more healthy culture beyond the destructive messages in popular rap music today. He sees how corporate record labels that are distant from the culture have negatively influenced the world’s perception of hip hop.
“The next element of the desecration of rap music, hip hop culture is someone else besides the pioneers or the people that made and created hip hop started dictating what hip hop is,” he says. “Basically, it’s almost like we wanted to give up control just to get a little more famous. ‘I’ll let you control anything, just put my picture on that wall, I’ll let you control everything, I just want to be on the wall and loved.’”