A project of THE AMERICAN AUDIT
On August 11, 1973, the global phenomenon the world has come to know as Hip-Hop began at a “back to school jam” block party on Sedgwick Ave in the Bronx, New York. At the time, an 18-year-old DJ Kool Herc spun records for his little sister’s birthday party incorporating the technique of playing the same two records and isolating the funkiest percussion sections into extended break beats that kept the partygoers on the dancefloor. Herc’s friend, Coke La Rock was invited as the Master of Ceremony (MC) whose task was to keep the crowd hyped by rhyming over the breakbeats.
La Rock’s then small role at that block party in the Bronx would later become the most signifying of the four elements of hip hop culture — emceeing.
Over the last five decades, the emcee/rapper has become synonymous with the phrase “hip hop.” The evolution of the microphone technician blessed with the gift of rhyme has over the past half-century provided the American literary canon with some of its most prolific writers.
From lyrics that underscore the gross inequity levied upon the marginalized to rhymes that gloat in the excess of achieving “the American Dream,” emcees have offered America and the larger world a front-row view into the lives and times of Black and brown communities and irreversibly changed the global landscape — to the benefit and peril of its creators.
Rhyme Travel, a spoken word poetry documentary project by poet, teaching artist, Citizen Artist Fellow, and creator of The American Audit and Blood on the Bluff, Donney Rose, seeks to explore the impact of 50 years of prolific and consequential rap lyrics that have spoken directly to the soul and conditions of Black America.
Fusing compressed rhyme poetics as the project’s narrative voice with interviews from emcees, hip hop scholars, and cultural practitioners, along with historical images, Rhyme Travel looks to critically examine the ways that rap’s truths, exaggerations, and poetry of witness have functioned as a megaphone and mirror to Black culture in our brightest and darkest hours.
Rhyme Travel is a project of The American Audit, a multimedia series of spoken word poetry historical accounts chronicling the nuances of Black American life.
COMING AUGUST 2023
BLOOD ON THE BLUFF is a poetic and historical re-telling of the 1972 massacre of Southern University students, Denver Smith and Leonard Brown, by poet and advocate, Donney Rose. Using the persona of the Smith and Brown Memorial Union as the voice of the written text and shared accounts from historians, Southern University alumni, and activists for historical purposes, Blood on the Bluff seeks to explore themes of Civil Rights, student protests, and how an incident of state-sanctioned murder changed the course of a school’s history. Blood on the Bluff is an offshoot project of The American Audit, a multimedia series of spoken word and historical accounts uncovering the toll of Black American life.
The American Audit is a 2019-2020 multimedia spoken word poetry project by Baton Rouge poet, educator and Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, Donney Rose. It chronicles 400 years of Black American life using the extended metaphor of America as a business audited by African Americans after centuries of marginalization.