Student raps on racial issues in new record

In Arts & Life /

By Don Barrie

When a new album of spoken word poetry hits the streets next week, it will feature hip-hop artist J.D. Vishus — also known as Ryerson student Joseph Daly.

The album is entitled Word-Life: Tales of the Underground Griouts.  Funded by the Canada Council, the collection aims to communicate the black experience urban areas of Canada.

“Griouts” refers to ancient African storytellers.  Word-Life is attempt to revive the tradition with a modern.

“It is hip-hop poetry, incorporating African rhythm and funk,” says Daly, who is in his first year of Ryerson’s postgraduate journalism program.

Even though he is studying journalism, he considers music and poetry his main interests.

Daly is proud of the contributions he made to album he made to the album.  One of the poems he contributed.  “Safe Brain Sex,” encourages blacks to maintain a sense of pride.

“I believe there is some negativity that exists in the black community,” Daly said.  He cites stealing and using the word “nigger” as examples.

“Safe Brain Sex” uses sexually transmitted diseases as metaphors for negative attitudes.  “The metaphors use are for conditional of blacks,” Daly said.  “I am trying to say ‘Be proud of yourself,’ without being condescending.”

The idea of bringing together some of the best urban black poets to record Word-Life was conceived by Anthony Bransfield.  Two of Bansfield’s poems, “North Coast” and “Rub-a-Dub Radio,” appear on this collection.

Bansfield, who lives in Ottawa, says the album celebrates the diverse black culture in Canada, even though some of the content is not celebratory.

“I wanted to move away from poems that deal exclusively with race,” he said.  “This is a collection that showcases talented black poets expressing their creativity and their experiences.”

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