Last year at the 2006 Allied Media Conference, I had the honor to see alixa + naima - otherwise known as climbing poeTree. All I knew about them (through word of mouth and the bio on the AMC site) at the time was that they were multi-talented artists, most well-known for their intense spoken-word poetry set against a multimedia backdrop. I have to confess that I wasn't a big fan of the form back then; but one way or another, it seems to have really grown on me - these days, I go out of my way not to miss any noches de poesia (fun, informal gatherings of poets and artists) here in Montreal, and I spend lots more time listening to spoken-word poetry (which to me for all intents and purposes, is music). Of course, when the content is so striking and relevant to us, we can more easily gain an apprecation and understanding of the medium. .
Helping out a little with the current iteration of the AMC site, I was going over a list of participants and spent some time learning more about those who had an URL. I ended up at the climbing poeTree site. The flash site's background music is a captivating instrumental version of "Emmet" (based in part on the murder of 14 year-old African-American Emmett Till in 1955). After listening to a few samples - in truth, after listening to "Emmet" and "I wanna believe" I was already sold - I decided to go ahead and buy a CD - the second CD I've bought in about three years. They didn't charge any extra for shipping to Canada, which is already way cool.
Two days later, I get a package from Brooklyn, with only my first name and address printed on it. Inside, I find the CD inside the CD case (duh...), along with a personalized, signed, handwritten note from the artists.
That kind of extra touch - which took maybe a minute to do - makes all the difference in the world. On its own, it's a beautiful gesture. But when it accompanies an album as powerful, moving, and relevant as ammunition, it becomes something that immediately builds a rapport between the artist and their audience. I cease being a consumer, and start being a listener and a supporter. In the imminent Market Socialism economy, it's the little details like this that will set apart those who are truly masters of the their craft and doing what they love.
It doesn't hurt that every track on the CD hits very close to home for me. I'm loathe to try and define the musical styles that jump from track to track. Some tracks have an obvious hip hop leaning, while others have a much stronger eastern or latin sounding beat. If there even exists a line between music and poetry, it is blurred beyond all recognition on ammunition. Infectious tracks, major-label production values, perfect mastering, lyrics that come from the soul without pulling any punches - this is one of those rare albums that I set on repeat without ever growing tired of.
"... and yes - another goddamn poem about Revolution."
"Nike sneakers tied around my neck like a noose..."
"Carry... a rock in your back pocket just in case. And let him know who David was."
"We're all trying to redefine 'normal' in six different dialects."