Thursday, December 13, 2007

Live in Monterey: Spoken word poet Ed Mabrey

Ed Mabrey called out Kanye West for letting his momma die from plastic surgery. Dude is sick with it.
Not that I necesarily agree with his stance on Kanye's momma, but you gotta give it up, dude's got some steel reserve. Performing Wednesday night at the Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam at East Village Coffee Lounge in Monterey, Mabrey gave a powerful yet understated performance. Whereas the stock image of a screaming, pantomiming world-saver/doom forcaster is the avatar of the modern day spoken word poet, Mabrey manages to tone down that sort of posturing and still be as in your face effacing.
(For samples of his work, visit his myspace page at
Setting it off with a take on the Pharcyde's "Passing Me By" that lead into Mos Def's "Umi Says,” Mabrey gently tugged the audience into his cypher. His words spilled over and created a river of social commentary aimed at the state of Black America in particular and negative stereotypes in general. Lowering the boom on Kanye, he questioned the drive of young men who pull weekly six-figure salaries yet don't have foresight to protect their mothers from the risky cosmetic surgery. I couldn't hold back the erge to utter "ewww" as he delivered his stone faced critique.
Later, he shared a poem inspired by the experience of having watched a movie with Kurt Cobain (true story). Revealing equal parts remorse, regret and revalation, the piece was punctuated by the description of Mabrey's 8-year-old son walking in on his dad rocking out in tighty-whiteys and singing the lyrics to "I don't Care.
"What am I supposed to do with this Image,” is the son's question, a puzzled expression on Mabrey's face driving the image home.
Since I didn't take notes, it's hard to do a proper review of Mabrey's entire show. But he covered a lot of ground, including a cover of a Taylor Mali poem with spot-on timing and moving ode to a friend lost to breast cancer. In a stoic yet playful baritone, Mabrey comforted the crowd into his wheelbox, coaxing them with clever wordplay and genuine appreciation for the audience.
Like a slick-talking yet serious arms dealer, Mabrey dealt his lethal tomes with wicked glee. Kanye's momma, bless her soul, would have approved.

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