Mayhem Poets
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Mayhem Poets

New York, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015

New York, New York, United States
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Spoken Word Hip Hop




"Mayhem Poets NY TIMES"

Published: November 2, 2007

MAYHEM POETS When Scott Raven Tarazevits, above right, proclaims from the stage of the New Victory Theater -- an enterprise devoted to family audiences -- how much he loves breasts and thighs, you may be tempted to cover the ears of the child sitting next to you. But it soon becomes clear that this isn't necessary. The juicy breasts and thighs Mr. Tarazevits is drooling over are the kind found at a barbecue, not a brothel. And before long his onstage compatriots, Kyle Sutton, above left, and Mason Granger, have leapt into the audience, busily flapping and clucking their accompaniment.

Mr. Tarazevits's ode to chicken is just one of the ways that he, Mr. Sutton and Mr. Granger, collectively known as Mayhem Poets, subvert expectations. Although their spoken-word performances derive from hip-hop, their material wouldn't make your grandmother blush, and there's nothing gangsta about their pose. (Their message is to write, not fight.) Having met several years ago as students at Rutgers University, the young men have said that their name is a play on the world-domination Mayhem Project mentioned in the film ''Fight Club.'' But their only weapon is words, specifically the snappy, streetwise art known as slam poetry.

And they deploy it brilliantly, using images from the silly (''My face was so purple I must have looked like Barney having a baby'') to the serious (''Stay together in this human race''). Calling young volunteers onstage, they demonstrate that poetry can be made by a line of people, each contributing one word, or -- if you believe that poems can be nonverbal -- each performing one action. Their intent, as they show in one long, rhapsodic riff, sitting as if in ''a lime green limousine'' that then morphs into a plane, is to prove that with imagination, ''we can go anywhere.'' It's an amazing ride. (Tonight at 7, tomorrow at 2 and 7 p.m., Sunday at noon and 5 p.m., 229 West 42nd Street, Manhattan, 646-223-3010,; $12.50, $25 and $35.) LAUREL GRAEBER - LAUREL GRAEBER

"California Press"

The Mayhem Poets are rare birds in the arts landscape. They are also a trio of poets – spoken word poets of clever, dexterous and topical lines – and even rarer is that they are successful. Not just successful in the realms of awards (though they won a Microsoft grant for $100,000 in 2006) or in accolades (The New York Times called their show an “amazing ride”) or in affirmation (one of them collaborated with KRS-One). They’ve been successful in that they seem to have found a way to keep doing what they love doing – inspiring the presence of poetry in people’s everyday lives, especially young people.
And they are good at it, flipping lyrical tongue twisters and going off on surprising tangents, like the poem they concocted in which they add one word apiece, constructing lines like notes on a scale, and subtly changing the verbiage of the classic “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck” until it’s morphed into “If a woodchuck chucked cheese, would a woodchuck work at Chuck E. Cheese?”
They are coming to do their thing at Sunset Center’s Studio 105 Tuesday, Feb. 24. They are co-founders Kyle Sutton, who goes by the stage name Kyle Rapps, and Scott Tarazevits, who goes by the stage name Scottt Raven, and Mason Granger. They met at Rutgers, where they first formed and in 1999 started a weekly poetry slam called Verbal Mayhem, named after the subversive Project Mayhem collective in the film Fight Club.
And like any super team, they each come with unique backstories which feed into their respective lyrical powers.
Let’s start with Granger, the newest member of the trio. He mastered his SATs and showed a gift for math, but decided to study creative writing at Rutgers, where he hosted Verbal Mayhem for three years. He’s got lightning-quick reflexes and a mathematical mind which helped him create a poetry slam-tracking app called SlamFind.
Raven incorporates his Jewish identity – “Shabbat speeches and histrionic-filled haftorah readings” – his study of theater and journalism, and his writing and acting. He’s co-authored two spoken-word plays and studied improv with Upright Citizens Brigade, and dunks it all into the well from which he draws out his poetry. Along the way, he published a book of sonnets dedicated to his failed relationships with women.
Rapps came from hard knocks in New Jersey, steeped in hip-hop music from Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Pharcyde, Hieroglyphics and A Tribe Called Quest. He got caught up with drugs and alcohol and started acting out a destructive course before he hit the brakes and found slam poetry at 17 when he needed it most. The 34-year-old has been sober since and has gone on to collaborate with Talib Kweli, Crazy Legs of Rocksteady Crew, and one of his heroes, KRS-One.
They have a mission.
“We want societal change, social reform. We want to fight for community empowerment, female empowerment, immigration [reform], wealth distribution,” Rapps says. “We get to do that from the artists’ perspective, but we’re hired by people in schools who want to see reform.”
They’re visiting Bayview Academy, All Saints, Seaside Middle School and Walter Colton Middle School to spread the good word about poetry as part of the Sunset Center’s 7-year-old Classroom Connections program. Then the kids will come to Sunset Center for an exclusive engagement.
The poets will reach 800 local school kids this way.
“We like to show [kids] that poetry can be fun,” Rapps says. “We like to show them it’s relatable, by using pop culture references and rap music especially. We try to give them hope, tell them a little bit about our experiences in middle school and the challenges we’ve dealt with. We want to show them we respect them.”
For instance, he has worked through the pain of losing his mother, whom he calls his champion, to cancer in 2006 (the same year they won the Microsoft grant). Raven, he says, works in his own insecurities and flaws, which Rapps calls “brave.” And Granger has been out front about calling out religious hypocrisy.
“We’ve pissed off some churches we’ve performed in where we’ve called them out,” Rapps says. “The art we’re doing, sometimes there are some painful truths about society and painful truths about ourselves. That’s what the artist’s job is.”
But they are good at reading their surroundings, so their performances before an audience of kids will no doubt hover in the area of inspirational. The message for them will be: “We love them. We’re with them. We’re on their team.”
They maintain packed touring dates at colleges, detentions centers, cancer wards, groups homes, teacher workshops, churches, performance halls and parks, an itinerary that casts them as troubadours. They’ve performed for audiences from all over the world.
“Everyone is welcome to partake, whether a prisoner behind bars, young kids growing up in well-to-do areas, in the ghetto or a beautiful gated community,” Rapp says. “We all have that humanness you can tap into.”
As for the Tuesday public performance, expect anything. Except timidity. - Monterey County Now

"Mayhem Poets Deliver Graduation Address"

Scott Tilton, the class president, introduced the commencement speakers, Scott Raven and Mason Granger of Mayhem Poets, a traveling poetry group that visited CHS earlier this year.

"We are thrilled to have them back today," Tilton said.

The two presented their speech in what they said was the only way they knew how: rhyme.

They both told stories of how they ended up making careers out of poetry -- an uncommon career, but one they both believe in.

“Graduates, find what adheres to you and stick to it,” Raven said.

He offered two pieces of advice on how to live life.

“Number one, do what you’re scared to do until the point where your fears start to fuel you,” he said.

Whether that’s taking the slow and steady path or fast and furious, he said to “let go and set sail until you’re fearless enough to fail.”

“The other thing I’ll add is that everyone at some point or another, learn, very simply, to shut up,” Raven said.

He told the graduates that listening leads to learning. In the darkest of times, he added, be quiet and take the opportunity to learn who you are.

Granger told graduates that he never attended college, and it’s not necessary as long as you know what you want to do and go do it. Plus, he reminded everyone, it’s never too late to say no.

“We’re never as good as our best days nor as bad as our worst. and today, more than ever, we can always start a new lifetime,” Granger said.

After each graduate walked across the stage and returned to their seats, school board trustee Libby Lovshin declared the Class of 2015 graduated.

And hats flew. - ALEXANDER DEEDY Independent Record


1. Rent ft KRS ONE, 2008 (single) The single reached #2 in the college radio charts. The video has featured on MTVU and BET as well as Rolling Stone website:
Kyle Rapps AKA Black Skeptik, 2008

2. Reverse Birth, 2007
A 14 track Audio Picasso in his prime.
Selected as One of the Best Poetry CDs of 2007
Now available on ITUNES and

3. Games. featuring Jean Grae and soon to be released WII and Game Show.



"Let's go see a poetry show." That is a sentence rarely proclaimed and usually responded to with cringes and excuses. The Mayhem Poets are on a mission to change that. Having been dubbed "an amazing ride" by the New York Times, this mind boggling performance has been described as "The Simpsons meets Malcolm X at a Notorious B.I.G. concert." These theatre trained, comedically gifted, lyrical virtuosos seamlessly blend raw elements of hip hop, theatre, improv and stand up comedy to tell gut wrenching truths that leave audiences forever changed.

The Mayhem Poet's unique approach to spoken word has landed them feature spots on The Today Show and Eyewitness News, after winning 1st place and a sizeable grant in the Microsoft Idea Wins Challenge in 2006. Since then they've been touring internationally collaborating with the likes of hip hop legends such as KRS ONE as well as world class musicians including Greg Patillo (beat box flute) and Josh Henderson (violin). Their latest CD, Reverse Birth was hailed as one of the top spoken word CD's of 2007 by's poetry section. In conjunction withe Bowery Poetry Club, their NYC based educational training operation Slam Chops provided opportunities for aspiring poets of all ages.

The Mayhem mission originated at Rutgers University in 2000, when Kyle Sutton (aka Kyle Rapps) and Scott Raven Tarazevits started an open-mic on campus called Verbal Mayhem. Their idea was to find a way to access people from all walks of life with spoken word. As a result they reached out to prisons, fraternities, churches, and hip hop/poetry fans alike to attract the most diverse poetry open-mic scene in the world. The spirit of Verbal Mayhem convinced the two young performers to craft a show and go on a mission to change peoples lives and reshape society's view of poetry.

Always up to date with contemporary world issues, This one of a kind tour de force stays fresh no matter what the venue. From theatre festivals to hip hop or rock concerts, community events to youth education series, Mayhem is the future.

Band Members