Poet/singer Ursula Rucker creates the kind of spoken-word music you wouldn't be surprised to hear at the Whitney Museum in New York City. It is beat poetry, but then it's not really beat poetry either. Actually, it's better. It's a provocative, matter-of-fact sort of thing. Kind of like speeches over jazz-influenced, electronic music. In Rucker's case, the music falls behind her words like a waterfall.
There is no convoluted imagery in Rucker's work. When she says something abstract like "I ain't no fish" as she does in "Uh-Uh," she begins another line with "the reason for the fish analogy..." It makes for an artist whose transparency is both incredibly refreshing and totally unpretentious. And when you can call a poet unpretentious, you just can't let that poet get away You gotta reel them in to your music collection—like a fish.
Rucker's poetry is controversial in a lot of ways. On the one hand, it's controversial because of what it advocates— individuality and a rejection of the status quo. But her use of language is just as controversial. She uses words like "cunnilingus," "fuck," "dick" and "tits" and graphically describes how each thing or process is exploited. Cunnilingus is actually the subject of an entire song. It's very sexual, but not remotely raunchy. It's beautiful when you really get down to it. One could make the argument that this is the kind of music you could play for a high school English class. Then again, maybe not, knowing how perverted teenage boys can get.
But the fact that I am advocating the use of Rucker's art in a classroom suggests that her work is not only meant to be be studied and examined, but also enjoyed. I have a feeling you will enjoy entering Ursula Rucker's little universe, too. You can enter it right now at www.jamiedoesmusic.com—but don't enter the url. You're already there, stupid.
Ma'at Mama by Ursula Rucker