They say opposites attract, and you could argue either side of that statement for as long as your lungs would let you. What is undeniable is the energy opposites emit when in contact with each other. Whether it’s a flowing wave against a rugged cliff; or a single blue dot on a white sheet of paper, it emits the energy of attraction. There is not only something that captures your eye; there is an energy that draws your spirit to it. Perhaps it is curiosity? Or perhaps contrast and controversy is more entertaining than similarity and peacefulness. In either case, it is the artist who commands how these elements harmonize through creativity. Much like nature creates balance through conflict. Making sense out of nonsense is the job of all artists, and on no day was this truer than the day I first knocked on the studio doors of The Blue Room. As the doors opened and at first glance, one may have thought that opposites were coming together yet again. “You must be Conrad” I said with a shake of his hand. “And you must be Graffiti Bleu” he replied. We sized each other up through conversation, which are the proper ways of entrepreneurs and gentlemen.  The exchange was humble and organic. It was obvious for me that this engineer had worked with Poets before. As I am certain that my extended time in the vocal booth was as obvious to him. So beneath the surface we weren’t very opposite at all. We were two salty – dog veterans doing exactly what we both loved to do. It was good to make an alliance with a like – minded thinker because of the challenge ahead. The task of the day was to marry two elements of music that can be opposites in the way that they express.
Rhythm and Poetry
            
Rhythm and poetry is an acronym for “RAP” but no… I am not a rapper, at least not in a conventional way. I am a Novelist/Author/Poet who has deep roots in Hip – Hop culture. Once a rapper, I found that writing songs in a standard 16 Bar & “Hook” format extremely confining for the stories that I wanted to tell. 
(Writing novels would allow the freedom I was seeking later in life) 
 
My love of language also evolved into poetry and my love for music became stronger than ever. However, I soon found that marrying the two art forms would be difficult, like trying to splash polka – dots onto striped paper. Sure, the act itself is easy, but looking at such a picture physically or mentally would be hard on the eyes.

            A strong poem, with a dynamic and entertaining speaker behind the words, can stand alone and entertain masses of people. So can a passionate arrangement of talented instrumentation. Because of this, unstructured poetry spoken over a rhythm, breaks unwritten laws of music. This so – called law was described best by an old band mate of mine who played guitar. His theory was that Percussion instruments like the Bass, Drums and Congas run the show. In contrast, wind and string instruments like the guitar, piano, trumpet and Saxophone are the show. The percussion instruments are like pinstripes in this case. A beat is often constant and organized like the spacing between or the thickness of pinstripes. That constant is what allows wind and string instruments to be free, or stray away from the beat. The show instruments can go staccato during a solo going high, low, fast or slow. As long as it keeps in tune with the underlying melody, or doesn’t stray away from the constant beat for too long, the marriage of instruments work.


     However, wind and string instruments, or in this case “the show” are not really like polka – dots. Polka – dots are completely random where as written music has more structure. Even the craziest arrangement of Jazz that is beyond comprehension has structure. If you organized polka – dots and gave them rules and structure they would look like notes on a sheet of music. Coincidence? Poetry is first cousin to the wind and string instruments that provide the show, much like the voice of a soul singer. But unlike a song writer who writes to a music track, most poems are written in silence so that the author may better listen to their emotions. 

Thus reciting a poem over a music track in the studio often comes out just as splashing polka – dots on pinstriped paper would. “Messy” At least it was for me when I first attempted to marry the two. So I developed an off – beat / on – beat flow. It allows me to step inside the pocket of the beat like a rapper would do for a few bars. This is pleasing to the ear and it lets the listener know that the lyricist is consciously aware of the underlying beat. Then I step out of the pocket for a few bars to give meat and substance to the words through sporadic emphasis. Most industry types won’t touch this style of music. It is not that they don’t like the genre; they simply don’t know how to market it. Conrad himself said that our session was “left” of anything he had seen before which I took as the greatest compliment a man could give. The fact that he provided me with everything I needed creatively, in spite of the eclectic nature of this session is a testament to his skill behind the board. 

To my fellow creators I leave you with this; 

Follow your passion, no matter how unconventional it may appear to your peers. Also find a place like the Blue Room in which you can execute that vision. Do this and you will do your job as an artist making sense out of nonsense. And your audience will look at your pinstripes and polka – dots not as chaos and confusion. They will see your art as you do, abstract and beautiful…


So a special Thanks to the Blue Room and its staff. If you are EVER in the DC metro area, and you need to put the work in, there is no better place to do it.


Sincerely Yours; GB