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"A Brooklyn Slammer"

Saturday, December 08, 2007

"B. Yung" spat his last rhyme and peered into the darkness where, in the cheer and bustle of the audience, the four judges slowly raised the scorecards. 9.6. He took a breath. 8.3. 9.3. This is good. And — here the poet's heart crashed — 6.0. B. Yung of Brooklyn had worn his H&M shirt, Kenneth Cole blazer, and Kangol hat, and he'd filled the room with the magic of his words, and…. 6.0. The number said it all.

When B. Yung next appeared on stage, he had no H&M shirt or Kenneth Cole blazer or Kangol hat. He had only a black "New York" cap and a fresh poem called "Poem Notez." It is a poem about a young poet who finally confronts and vows to defeat his own vanity. "I say unto you, when you come up here, leave that bullshit at home," it reads. "And don't say what you think is real, say what you think and feel."

"Read" isn't exactly the word. These poems aren't meant to be read. They're meant to be performed: screamed, sung and — this is the word B. Yung prefers — "spat."

B. Yung is not a typical slammer. To begin with, he is a teenager — an 18-year old who hasn't let his schooling interfere with his education. And though he has performed at the Bowery Poetry Café, Da Poetry Lounge, Nuyorican Poets Café and many of the trendiest poetry slam venues across the country, B. Yung doesn't think of himself as a slammer.

"I don't really believe in the whole slam thing," he says. "I think the poem is more about the word than the competition." That is why B. Yung prefers the solo performance, where he can aim his words not at a poetry slam title but at the achievement of "raw truth." Raw here meaning straight, undecorated, independent, and moving.

B. Yung likes the word "raw," too.

Even so, the young poet of Brooklyn performs at slams "to pay his dues" as a community artist. "It's just something you have to do," he says. "It's the Mecca of poetry." B. Yung feels that a real poet must face the judgment of the community from which he came and the troubles and longings of which he claims to represent.

With responsibility, however, comes power — and pleasure. "I can never get enough of it," he says. "It's a high you get while you're on stage. In real life, every one of us has problems. When I slam, all my problems seem to disappear."

Perhaps they disappear because B. Yung switches his focus to problems that are greater than his own while he is slamming. "I'm a rural poet," he says, "A lot of my neighborhood is in the shadow, and I have to bring it out." And so B. Yung spits about HIV, bulimia, crime, domestic violence and poverty. "I will not serve you the world well-done," he says in "Cuts." "I'll serve it to you as raw as it was served to me."

But catch B. Yung on the right day and you will hear a poet not of the world, but of his own soul. He no longer cares about "looking down upon society's morals" ("Last Night"), but rather speaks about "my own place, in my own mind" ("Choke"). In such verses he remembers his own flopped romances, battles against his artifices and explains to an older woman that he can be her equal in love.

In bars, basements and theatres across the country, B. Yung continues to sing and slam. Sometimes he competes with other poets, but most often he fights with the soul and skeleton in which he feels trapped. "Why go to prison when it's a prison that we live in?" B. Yung cynically spits. Then he proceeds to lay the plans of our jailbreak.

- written by Garin K. Hovannisian


Us3 FT Brook Yung
1. Life Love Music
2. Gotta Get Out Of Here
3. You Already Know
4. Don't Waste Your Life
5. The Love of My Life
6. Keep Moving'
7. I Let 'Em Know



B. Yung is well on his way to being an essential addition to today's music industry.
Only 20 years of age and influenced mostly by revolutionary artist such as Bob Marley, Mos Def and The Roots as well as artists like Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco and Nas, it isn't hard to see where B. Yung ability to create influential music comes from. Drawing inspiration from life experiences and the pain of others, B. Yung has shown hunger and work ethnic like no other other in his age range. Since the year 2001, B. Yung has recorded with such prevalent and Grammy award winning producers like Miri-Ben Ari, Reefa,Keezo Kane, Phonix, DJ Static, Dub-Z and many more. He has also performed alongside Mos Def and recently, Wyclef
at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
Though internationally known as the next
face in the Hip Hop world, B. Yung has also become a familiar face in the American Spoken
Word community. In the year 2006 he was offered a slot in "LA's Def Poetry All-star Show" by Stan Lathan ,and after excepting, began a very successful career in his new found craft.
B. Yung began featuring at venues all around the states in 2007. One year later, he earned a slot on the Urban Word NYC Youth Slam team (beating out over 400 New York inner-city Po-ets). Before performing his piece "Rumors", Russell Simmons personally congratulated him on his success. In 2008, while still keeping a strong pulse within the local and national Hip Hop community, B. Yung ranked 2nd in the nation with Urbanword NYC's slam team at the Brave New Voices National Competition while being one of the main focuses on "HBO's Brave New Voices Documentary". He also ranked first place in the "2008's
Robert Redford Speak Green Poetry Competition" that was held at the world re-known Ken-nedy Center in Washington, D.C. B. Yung's "I am a Queen" poem was one of the most memora-ble indie pieces at the 11th Annual BNV Competition and has earned him the chance to open up at The National Poetry Slam (Adult Competition) in Wisconsin a month later. It was then featured on the front page of the Urbanword NYC website as well as many other online spaces. Saul Williams says "[B. Yung] is nothing short of amazing" and Natalie "THE FLOASIST" Stewart (1/2 of Floetry) says "B. Yung delivers passion filled poetry, articulating the purpose of prose..."
B. Yung is now performing at colleges and various venues around the nation. He is also prepar-ing for a European tour with London based band Us3 in April (performing in places such as France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Poland, Belgium etc.) while working on his solo project set to drop sometime in the fall of 09'.