Enlightenment Project

Enlightenment Project

BandSpoken WordHip Hop

The Enlightenment Project fuses avant-guarde, socially conscious, collaborative poetry with hip-hop, rock, soul and blues. They’ve retained a growing loyal Los Angeles following by performing with an impressive collection of guest musicians, poets and emcees.


Going through their mic check, you have to wonder if members from several different bands are all preparing for sound check. There’s a young Erykah Badu beatboxing and laughing with the sound guy. Testing the handrums is a hip Cuban guy with a fedora. Then there’s the lanky emcee freestyling about consciousness, a white guy channeling Saul Wiliams and a long-haired asian girl overseeing the mic checks. But as they pass around cables and jokes, you get that they have the kind of camaraderie created through late-nights, road trips and, every now and then, a new collaboration with a shared realization of “yeah…that’s It…”

The Enlightenment Project is an ensemble group that fuses avante-garde performance poetry with turntablism, singing, beatboxing, rock, soul and the blues. They’re composed of five seasoned performance poets and create collaborations backed by a resident jazz guitarist, DJ and drummer. They relish the spontaneity of the freestyle musician and often break into jams with guest musicians, poets and emcees. You never know if their live shows may or may not be accompanied by live artists, dancers, turntables…Every live show is a completely fresh experience.

Each seasoned performance poet represents a different genre of artistry. They regularly rotate to form collaborations, forming new sounds and unique content depending on the poets involved. The resident musicians also collaborate with guest musicians, often slipping into an intense jazz interlude or a rock jam between the poetry pieces. Each set is wholly unique; one piece could have two poets singing, one beatboxing, and all of them performing poetry while the DJ spins Miles Davis along with futuristic electronica as the drummers keep beat with three sets of handrums. They believe strongly in the power of the Word, and each piece is a conscious, forward-thinking, artistic and aware piece of developed writing.

By day, the Enlightenment Project is part of the not-for-profit organization New Earth’s F.L.O.W. (Fluent Love of Words) program. The group teaches at disadvantaged high schools and juvenile detention centers, performing for the kids and helping them use poetry and music as a positive outlet. EP member Sarah Cruse is the founder of California’s Council of Venues, a board composed of leaders from dozens of venues and artistic organizations from all over the state, of which the EP is actively involved. EP founder Heather Rae is also founder of the Committee for the Creative Youth, working with organizations and non-profits dedicated to working with the youth through art. Students and teachers alike have become part of the EP’s following and there is often a mass of past students found at any all-age shows.

By night, the EP is well-versed in performing at a wide range of venues, from music festivals to L.A. hotspots, to dive bars and clubs to infamous music venues. Past venues include The Roxy, BB King’s, Acoustic Transmissions, Soul Sessions, Talking Drum and Aqua. The EP has been featured at spoken word venues such as Spoken Funk on Sunset, regularly appears on Truthseekas Radio Show in Los Angeles and Tables of Content Radio Show in Northridge, and has a monthly residency at Malia in Santa Monica. Currently, the EP is setting up EP clubs in several of the High Schools they have worked with, as well as working on collaborative projects with the established spoken word collective, Poets of the Round Table. The EP is currently writing an LP to be released February 1.


Woke Up Tomorrow

Written By: Voice of (...)

Buying god from drug dealers
The crowd yell for
Addictions through televisions
I promise I woke up tomorrow

It’ time to put on your good shoes
Brush your teeth with dust of angels
Put on the closed captioning
Turn down the volume

Stop signs are just recommendations
And there’s no such thing as tomorrow

I need to wash my face in isis
Put on the scent of osiris
Cuz now things are getting Sirius
And orion is keeping my pants on
I promise I woke up tomorrow

But the only thing that exists is now

I am simultaneous
And life is just a bookmark
And life is just a book
And life is just a computer
And life is just a poet

And the only place where god can be bought
Is from drug dealers names Spooky Hector

Stop signs are just recommendations

Police(men) are children
Playing cowboys and Indians
The millennium edition

My father is a television
My father is a computer
My father is a bottle of brown liquid

But isis is my babysitter
Whose boobies I try to touch (accidentally)
I wanna learn how life should be
From mtv
Bitch, I’m pimpin rides down in Laguna Beach

And why?

Because popular music is a dead hooker

Music sleeps quietly
Underwater in New Orleans

Morals sleep wickedly
Inbetween lines
On picket signs
That say
Fags Go To Hell
I just wanna know who rides
In the back of the KKK bus

Stop signs are just recommendation
Racists are children
Playing god
The millennium edition
I promise I woke up tomorrow

I’m just trying to get from 4 to 5
From 2 to 3
From 8 to 9
From 6 to 7
But between now and then
I’ll sleep quietly
Underwater in new Orleans
Waiting for music to promise me
He woke up tomorrow

And life is just a bookmark
And life is just a book
And life is just a computer
And life is just a poet
Licking stamps and
Mailing out manilla envelopes
Full of alarm clocks
To the children of the evolution

I promise I woke up tomorrow
The only thing that exists is now.

Bitter Verses

Written By: Heather Rae

It hurts so much
False words weigh heavier than sticks and stones
Radio force-feeds hooks that get caught in my throat
I try to swallow them
But they pass through me in shudders
Form anchors around ears
Taking me underwater
Where even light appears distorted

Only I can drown myself--
Only I can drown myself--
Only I can--

I bite my tongue
Tasting bitter verses

I choke on them
And spit them out in a brainstorm

A shower of acid rain
That burns those that can still feel
(can anyone still feel?)
My pages are filling
Not with the watered down lyrics
Of the main stream
but of my own tears
I cry Scripture

I walk on water--
I tread lightly--
I refuse to drown

(Only I can drown myself)

My pen doubles as a life raft
And needle
I save myself then
Shoot ink in purple veins,
So that when I slit my wrists later
I’ll bleed words
(Only I can save myself)
Spend nights seeking lost souls
Force-feeding them my bloodied verbs
And phrases
Let them drink from my self-inflictions
And taste immortality

The last of the Free Styles
Now sleep in the cracks
On Hollywood Blvd
Smoked and discarded

While their illegitimate sons and martyrs
Rape mics openly.

The audiences applauds their--
Minimal effort--
that they’ve been made--

When you say the word unconscious over and over again
it loses all meaning


All I can do is
Stand by--
Bite my tongue
Tasting bitter verses--
Drowning in bitter verses--
I'll save with my


Written By: EP

I can’t lie
So I’ll just try
To sit here and swallow my truth

Truth be told
When we get old
You and me will still be beautiful

Where do I begin
Started out when I was ten
Yall remember way back then, way back when
Just lookin for a writ-in’ pen
Then for a nite to spend
With my little lady friend,
Now she says she’s late again
I don’t know what to say
…I guess I’ll pray again

And can we deal with that
all the constant attack
Everybody talking bout our lives right behind our back
May I was ho-in up
Back when I was growin up
But now you’re in the bathroom on your knees throwin up
And them aint gang signs
More like signs of pain
Everybody loves sunny days
but can we stand the rain

But our final decisions for me and you to know
But girl whatever we choose know that your beautiful…you’re beautiful

everybody wants to know a lot
about a little something
and our secrets keep bubblin to the top

everybody wants to know a lot
about a little something
and our secrets keep bubblin to the top

it’s time
to refresh your mind
cuz yours and mine needs to rhyme

it’s time
to refresh your mind
cuz yours and mine needs to rhyme

theres something inside of you
you’re visibly shaken girl
you can’t seem to cry away the tears
don’t worry
I just gotta call from god
Then got struck by lightning child
The lesson was it’s all okay
Seems like everybody wants to know
And everybody’s got an o-pinion
It’s a blessin in disguise
Don’t question my lovin
Your heart is the stars
And it’s you that I’m circling
These revolutions got me spinnin
Round you like a current in the air
Your girlfriends talking bout you
Like you just a current affair
But we been here before
And I kissed you before… certainly
This just our latest chapter of eternity

and your friends wanna talk about me
they don’t know nothing bout me
or how much I love you

they seem to be sad & lonely
they don’t want your matrimony
they want you heartbroken too

I can’t lie
So I’ll just try
To sit here and swallow my truth

Truth be told
When we get old
You and me will still be beautiful

Set List

*Appearance--8 minutes
1. Rent Line introducing the poets and group
2. All group spoken word/beatbox/song collaboration
ex. Organic Soul Movement Special event in honor of Cheri Honkala of the Poor People's Movement and Award-winning poet Luis Rodriguez

*School Set--55 minutes
1. Rent Line
2. All group spoken word/beatbox/song collaboration
3. 3 socially conscious pieces
4. 20 minute presentation on poetry, music and the importance of creative integrity
5. 10 minute Q & A
ex. Carter High School, Eisenhower High School, Eagle Rock Performing Arts High School

*Short Set--25-40 minutes
1. Rent Line
2. All group spoken word/beatbox/song collaboration
3. 5-8 musical collaborations
4. Drum & DJ solo
ex. Higher Ground charity event, Spoken Funk feature

*Regular Set--60-90 minutes
1. Rent Line and Drum & DJ solo
2. Bitter Verses (all group spoken word/beatbox/song collaboration. Commenting on the lack of integrity in Top 40 rap and hip-hop,