In spoken word or in any genre, it’s rare to come across an artist of such caliber as Da Black Pearll. Her prose-poetry is a splendid blend of personal reflection and social commentary, artistry wired tight.
Here’s an excerpt from her “What’s in your garden??”, a poignant and bittersweet incanation. “They have forgotten how to be little girls/ They have simply forgotten how to be little girls/ Feeling like life has dealt them a foul hand/ And they are forced to play it/ They wear Apple Bottoms better than they wear their childhood innocence/ From popping lip gloss to imaginary hip-tossing/ Carrying imitation Gucci and short pants so tight they riding up in their young coochies/ Have helped them forget how to be little girls.”
Few names on the circuit are as immediately and respectfully recognized as the likes of J. Otis Powell!, Sha Cage, David Daniels, Sol Testimony, and, on the rare occasion that he comes out of hiding, seminal orator e. g. bailey. Da Black Pearll coming on hard, though. Plenty of her peers know who she is and give Pearll mad props. Audiences have begun doing the same and, when her CD Sand N Time drops this fall, word of mouth surely will pick up its pace.
She works at a dizzying pace and, presently, is hauling down gigs left and right for the month of August (check myspace.com/tre574life and myspace.com/dablackpearll) and, just to fill whatever blanks her schedule leaves open, drops in at her favorite open mics, Desdemona and Kevin Washington’s Poet’s Groove on Mondays at the Blue Nile and Mellow Mondays at the Favor Café on (confusingly) Tuesdays. At the same time, she’s finishing up her B.S. degree in criminal justice at Colorado Technical University in order to eventually work with adolescents released from incarceration and with domestic violence victims.
Pearll doesn’t walk around bragging about it, but she’s kin to a pair of serious names in area Hip-Hop: Toki Wright is her cousin and St. Paul Slim is her brother. We did part of this interview at the Blue Nile and part by e-mail.
How satisfied are you with your career to date?
[It’s] doing great. I would like to perform more, that is why I frequent places like the Blue Nile and Favor.
What moved you to become a spoken word artist?
The fact that I can openly express who I am. The articulation of what I think, feel, and see comes alive. It’s as easy as breathing. It’s not poetry for me. It’s a reality and it’s all a part of who I am. So, I have to say that it’s second nature. I am just grateful that I have a audience. People who understand what I am saying, [whether they] agree or disagree.
Will Sand N Time, feature your cousin and your brother?
This CD will not include them. However, I hope to include them on future projects.
What do you have for musical backup?
I am working with several different musical artists including SJP productions and PPEnt, and I recently developed a relationship with Pop Off Inc., who will be assisting me with the completion of my CD. I am really excited about the whole project.
You sit in at Poet’s Groove and Mellow Mondays. How do they compare?
They are both fantastic environments but two different worlds. I love them both. I love the Nile Poet’s Groove. I get the chance to jam with a live band there, so every time I am on stage it’s electric. Mellow Mondays are just that. Mellow, light drumming, very intimate atmosphere, great food, and they make time to focus just on the art of spoken word.
How was it to come back to the Twin Cites after year and a half away?
Coming back was a blessing. I went through a lot in my transition and I feel more polished. Wisdom now dominates my life experiences. I am blessed. It’s been welcoming coming back here.
Did you gig while you spent that time in Dallas?
A few slams. I was at the Soda Gallery and Chilled down in Deep Elm, their [artists’] district. I won a few slams there and it was nice. I just didn’t get into their vibe like I do here. I love the Twin Cities.
What’s coming up next?
I am finishing my CD and working on my book and just trying to keep myself busy. I am going to be [appearing] at the Imperial Room in downtown Minneapolis sometime in August. I am doing the Book of Rhymes August 28th at Pillsbury House Theatre. I am really excited about that. I will also be doing the B-Girl Be on September 19th.
Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.
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