This Saturday, July 2nd, ReadNex poetry squad will be taking over MASS MoCAâ€™s Courtyard C, bringing an electrifying Hip Hop Dance Party. Just to give you a run-down on who these awesome party-throwers are, ReadNex consists of DJ H20, and four poets, Decora, FreeFlowin, Jarabe Del Sol and Latin Translator. Forming in 2001, the members met during an open-mic night at Middletownâ€™s Orange County Community College, and have continued to jam since then. While focusing on creating verses and beats that revolve around social change, education and confidence, the group matches their message with a thrilling dance party. But thatâ€™s not all folksâ€¦the group also facilitates workshops for youth empowerment, using hip-hop and poetry to address issues such as race, gender, injustice, and poverty.
Although they have been hitting the road lately (or airplanes for that matter) the group member, FreeFlowin was kind enough to take some time during the squadâ€™s recent tour in London, to answer some questions for us:
MM: Chronogram Magazine described your group as â€śâ€¦an out-and-out activist machineâ€¦â€ť Could you talk about your major influences, both musically and in terms of activism?
FF: We are influenced by a variety of sources. Life and experience is our greatest influence. There are too many people to list as far as influences go but to name a few they would have to be: Michael Jackson, Ghandi, Bob Marley, Nina Simone and Audrey Lorde.
MM: I understand that workshops, such as â€śHip Hop and Poetry Saved My Lifeâ€ť are a major part of your mission. Was that something the group always wanted to do from the beginning of the formation, and how did these workshops develop over time?
FF: When we formed the group our main goal was to Perform in as many places possible. However, our main goal has been evolving and expanding since the inception of the group. After several years of performing at open mics, clubs and colleges we began to get approached by middle schools and high schools to perform for their youth. These performances later grew into lectures/ open forum discussions and these became the core elements of our workshop.
MM: In your 2010 Chronogram interview, you mentioned one of the elements of Hip Hop is Graffiti; do you combine that artistic genre or other types of visual arts in some of your performances?
FF: We don’t personally create visual art at our performances but we never turn down the opportunity to feature visual artists during our live performances. In fact at as many shows as possible we try to involve as many of the five elements that we can.
MM: During the Hudson Valley Clearwater Festival in 2009, your squad teamed up with Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, American Folk singer Pete Seegerâ€™s grandson, which seems like a unique and inspiring combination. Have you done collaborations like that before or plan to do more in the future?
FF: We love rocking with Tao Seeger and his band and since that show we have performed with them on numerous occasions and he is even on our latest album. Song number 8 America Bolivariana the reflection of Self Revolution is an example if the fusion of genres with Tao Seeger. Interestingly enough that was not the first time we collaborated with folk music. In 2008 we were in Whitesburg Kentucky where we had the honor to jam with some really dope folk musicians. We love all genres of music so any opportunity to perform or collaborate on a project with different artist we jump on it.
MM: For this MASS MoCA event, you will be featuring a Hip Hop dance party; can you give our readers some insight into what they should expect?
FF: They should expect to dance until their legs fall off literally!!!!!
…So, you heard it from the group themselves, get ready to dance all night this Saturday out in one of MASS MoCAâ€™s unique factory courtyards. Tickets are still available, $15 in advance, $19 the day of the show, and only 10 bucks for teens and kids! Doors open at 7, so get here early to get a perfect spot to dance all night.