In the words of STL spoken word artist Corey Black said on Facebook about the recent spoken word outbreak:
" Its way too many open mic nights in St. Louis. The poetry scene is gonna be so lame by the end of spring. Too oversaturated. Im gonna start my own open mic night, everyone else has one.".....
As with any trend, you have your originators and your copiers which can cause the oversaturartion. In the spoken word game, it’s no different. But it’s best to be a creator than a follower. One of those creators is local poet, college grad, math and stats wiz and businessman Xplicit. Since 2007, he has been blazing the poetry scene with his dynamic, rhythmic flow and creative wordplay becoming one of the “Young Princes of Spoken Word Poetry” in St. Louis.
Forward three years to 2010 and one will see that this brash and handsome, Bloomington, Illinois native, and former college professor is moving full speed with his poetry career becoming a mover and shaker in the promotions game as well by co-creating the spoken word promotions company Soul U, and three spoken word events: the weekly Soul Stages and the “on hiatus” monthly Soulace and Soul Live.
CD art for his upcoming CD, Spoken Acid
Xplicit—who shortened his name from Xplicitly Intelligent in 2007—started recording his newest CD last September while juggling his day job teaching math and statistics at a city college in St. Louis. But in December, he made the hard decision to quit teaching and walked on faith to do poetry for a living.
“When I stopped teaching, I had to come up with a product,” Xplicit said. “ It was time for a new CD.”
He also talked about his process recording Spoken Acid.
“As a poet, you gotta have inspiration to write,” Xplicit said. “My inspiration is living life and people talking about their experiences. I wanted this CD to have a different vibe than other CDs. It has a down to earth feel to it, more like a mixtape CD using industry beats. It’s also a studio CD where I had to go into the studio and record.”
Xplicit and his Soul U biz partner DJ 76
Although Xplicit has become an “STL wordstar,” his beginnings were far from celebratory when he decided to attend his first spoken word event in 2007 at Legacy Books and Café.
“The first time I got on open mic, my hands were shaking,” he said. “but the crowd showed support of my content. It was a great experience. I went there because I heard about their open mic night while I was teaching. When I was younger, I really got into Def Poetry Jam and that inspired me write my first poem (“Orientation Day”) and really wanted to hear poetry live.”
Soon after Legacy, he performed at the monthly, Expressions in the Dark held at the Hoogland School of the Arts in Springfield, Illinois, his second time on the mic and his first out of town performance. Again, he experienced a bad case of butterflies.
“I was so nervous, “ he recalled. “I had my poem memorized but before I got up to the mic, I wrote it down right quick.”
Then his spoken word hunger began to grow as he continued going to open mic at Legacy’s as well as Evening Whirl contributor and Hoodstar Mocha Latte’s former weekly open mic Got Lyrics. Thus, he got the spoken word and poetry bug.
“I fell in love with it, “ he said.
Because of his passion, in May 2008, Xplicit teamed up with popular STL dee-jay DJ 76 Kid to create Soul U with the dream to make poetry a business venture. As a result, the monthly Soulace was created at various venues including Diversity Café and Nubia, both located on Delmar Avenue, where St. Louis and out of town poets could be featured on the mic.
Then in August of that year, the group created the weekly open mike, Soul Stages with poet and host Abbey the Truth, with the same concept as Soulace, that was first staged at Diversity Café then at House of Comedy formerly located in Laclede’s Landing and currently at STL Finest Bar and Grill on West Florrisant.
Months into 2008, and during his second year as grad student at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Xplicit had gone to the crossroads of sorts in his career.
“I had to make the decision of going to class or do open mike one night,” he said. “I still taught but I decided to do open mike.”
And the rest is history. From then on, he performed and orchestrated business contacts through Soul U’s events, and, developing a kinship with spoken word/rapper Corey Black to perform as a duo for a spell on the STL poetry scene and various other cities such as Chicago, Phoenix, and Cincinnati.
Then in late 2009, he made yet another leap of faith by quitting teaching altogether and freeing himself from the educational system and exploring self employment through poetry .But he had some growing pains to go through.
“When you are a teacher there’s a certain type of presentation that you have to have about yourself,” Xplicit said. “I’m in front of people in classroom just like I am at an open mic, but the concept is different. Now that I’m doing poetry full time, I have to make my own paycheck. It was hard going from being paid twice a month to having to fend for yourself and depend on other people to support you.”
Nevertheless, his decision has paid off. Xplicit was able to build a network of Soul U events in various cities where he was able to sustain himself.
“I enjoy the freedom of being my own,” he confided. “The harder you work, the more it pays off. I was able to have time to write and not having to grade papers was great.”
Beyond the shows he produces in St. Louis, he has five different Soul Stages shows in his hometown of Bloomington and Peoria, then he hosts shows in Springfield and Decatur Illinois and tutoring a Soul Stages at Mizzou’s campus twice a semester. And if that’s not enough, he tours every weekend a show in different cities across the country.
As a result of his enduring tenacity, the popular STL blogsite OUTTOWN named his promotions group, Soul U, the #1 Promocialite (promoter and socialite) of this blog’s year end post of 2009.
“We got great feedback from that,” he said.. “A lot of people hit up our website and Facebook page, congratulating us for being number one. I was very honored.”
Xplicit said he was pleasantly surprised when he discovered they were the Top Promocialite of 2009. It was more of the non believers who were shocked.
“We didn’t have too many haters,” he quipped. We surprised a lot of people when they underestimated the hard work we do and be recognized. I think we were more surprised of all the names of the established promoters on the list. Spoken word open mic has such a stigma of being Afrocentric, pro-black with militant people and not fun or exciting for the average person to go to.”
One of Xplicit’s goals is to break the myth of the spoken word open mic in St. Louis.
Xplicit spittin poetry at Culture Cafe in Diversity Gallery
We think are success comes from us welcoming everyone and giving people a level of entertainment and a message,” he said. “Everyone says they leave our event and feel high. It’s a fun time, but leave with a message something for your heart. You go to a club, you have fun with friends, drink, and music but you don’t leave with something. You leave our events, you leave with a message, get a contact with someone and great music with 76 Kid, my partner who does well on the shows.”
After his Spoken Acid listening and release parties in April, Xplicit will be back on the touring grind traveling the States to promote his product. Locally, he will hit Café Soul at the Loft and Funny 1st Thursdays at the Ambassador.
And after that—the limit is the sky for this brother.