Hip-Hop Memory and Meditation (Number 1)

This is the first memory and meditations I seek to write to archive, and most importantly, to share.

I grew up on early rap/hip-hop music. It is one of the earliest of sources of creativity that helped define me and inspire me. Growing up on the west side of Rockford, IL (northern Illinois) rap music was a profound discovery young people of color, especially in the inner city, were growing to love and delving into deeply. I was one of those young people who quickly fell in love with the raps, the rhythms, the rhymes.

My older brothers began collecting and playing the 1970s and 1980s rap/hip-hop music I owe a lot to. They were playing all kinds of rap music, mostly from the east coast. It was a new form of music that would not only identify what was going on in the inner city streets of this country, but would also change what was going on here. It became our soundtrack, our collective voices, our messages to the world.

Break dancing was beginning to take over as well, so these two elements of the hip-hop culture were allowing young people of color, especially Latinos/as to to express ourselves in the most creative ways. The older people didn’t understand it. They would look at us crazy wondering what we were doing, what was going on. We stuck to it. Rap especially was the sound of the day, we had our own music to dance to and to sing along to.

One of my earliest memories was going to a local convenience store not far from where my family and I was living at. That store sold cassette tapes and rap was one some of these cassette tapes. I saw one that said “Funky Technician” by Lord Finesse and DJ Mike Smooth. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted that tape. I had to hear that music! It didn’t take me long. I got enough money to buy the cassette and went and bought. That was probably my first purchase of music. It was one of the best purchases I ever made.


Funky Technician, the first project by Lord Finesse And DJ Mike Smooth is a groundbreaking rap/hip-hop recording. I had heard nothing like it at that point. Lord Finesse was on top of his lyrical game and the beats by Mike Smooth fit the raps perfectly. My favorite song on the project “Funky Technician” I bobbed my head to many times. I can remember this like it was yesterday.

I spent hours in my room listening to this cassette tape. It introduced me to a lyricism and production I had no idea existed. All of the tracks on the project has a unique flavor, all of them definitely are funky, creative. DJ Premier produced a track on the album. I didn’t really know of his work back then but you can see that Preemo – as he’s called – was definitely a producer on the rise back then.

This is a meditation. A memory. Reminding me of where I came from as a lyricist and a poet. I learned from poets like Lord Finesse and it is nice to meditate in this, to document it, remember it. We’ve all been inspired by something or someone. Let us take note of this as we strive and thrive as Creatives.

In Deep Peace, Christopher D. Sims a.k.a. UniverSouLove.



Human Rights – a poem by Christopher D. Sims

Our beloved, sacred human rights
take flight the day we are born.

Born into a world of injustices,
harms, hindrances, limitations
People of color are slapped in the face
from nation to nation.

As a universal concept, we all should reject
any notion against any person’s worth, dignity.

We all have voices. We all have minds.
We all know what bigots and dictators are,
especially in these political times.

Your rights are mines, my rights are yours:
a mantra true and righteous forever more.

We dream, we hope, we unite, we fight
For the liberties that come along with
the power of human rights.

From nation to nation, there’s a war
going on. The youth are becoming educated
the elders are getting strong.

We sing a song crafted by the trials in our paths.
Justice is a love word that will always last.

Power to the people in Africa, in Haiti, in Palestine.
Power to all the people who have been in shackles
for lifetimes.

We need compassion, resources, and loving-kindness
shared with the downtrodden. Human potential is
the best weapon against those who have been overlooked,

We collectively, virtually sit by the camp fire
at night. The moon glows brightly despite
what’s happening in communities where
crying is being unheard. We know we’re on
the verge of a huge turnaround, even when
loud tears hit the ground.

The sound and sight of people of all races and classes
coming together, means, human rights will be that much better.

©Christopher D. Sims
February 25, 2017

The Art of Performance Poetry with A Lively Writer’s Group

Performing spoken word poetry.

Performing spoken word poetry.

Yesterday morning, after an early and fairly quiet drive to Winnetka, Illinois, I went to the Off Campus Writers’ Workshop to be featured with a discussion focused on my ” The Seven Elements of Performance Poetry.” The group was very lively, and interested in what I had to share and to say about my techniques as a seasoned spoken word poet.

I put together a defined workshop that spoke to each element – available as a Word document if you’re interested in viewing it. I was concerned about not having enough material to carry me through, but that quickly vanished when the lively group of seasoned writers and literary enthusiasts began asking me questions about my knowledge of performance poetry and/or Slam poetry.

The questions carried us through most of the first half of our electric conversation. I am glad that I have been performing as long as I have, and was prepared with a memory of what it takes to be a performance poet. The questions they asked kept me on my toes!

I learned of the Off Campus Writers’ Workshop through a local poet’s husband during a conversation we had at an event where his visual art was on display, and where her and my poetry was featured in a live reading in downtown Rockford. I remembered the name of the group and went home and found their website. I reached out to them expressing my interest in being a presenter. I shared what I could present and it was accepted.

The Seven Elements of Performance Poetry is my go to workshop for highlighting my tactics as a spoken word poet on stage. It consists of pieces of knowledge and information that I feel will help any poet seeking to become a performance poet – which, as I explained to the Off Campus Writers’ Workshop group, is taking written poetry to the stage.

The group consisted mostly of women who listened intensely and made sure they asked the right questions. Performance poetry is not simple, and I believe only the brave poets want to take their writing to the level of performing and reciting it.

I have been performing since the late 90s as a spoken word artist. My early start was in Memphis, TN at the former Sidewalk University in midtown Memphis. I remember that first experience like it was yesterday. Going to an open mike to share my poetry live was something I had never done. It was a new genre for me. Although I had performed as a budding rapper at my elementary school in the mid 80s, there was something different about reciting poetry to a group of people I didn’t know. Later on, after learning about the weekly open mike at the former Precious Cargo in downtown Memphis, I become hooked and haven’t looked back since.

Years later, here I am in Winnetka, Illinois at the Off Campus Writers’ Workshop sharing what I have learned all of these years. I have come full circle as a spoken word poet. I am glad I had the opportunity to showcase that there with that lively and kindred group of writers and literary enthusiasts!

I hope to get back there some time, even if it is just to listen to them and learn about what they are doing with their writing. Happy National Poetry Month! May the muse be with you!