The Welfare Poets

The Welfare Poets

BandWorldHip Hop

Using the power of arts and culture, The Welfare Poets bring together people to realize their collective potential. The band incorporates many genres of music, including Hip Hop, Bomba, Plena, Afro-Cuban Jazz, Funk, and Blues.


The Welfare Poets interpret indigenous forms of poetry and music, including Hip Hop, Bomba, Plena, Afro-Cuban Jazz, Funk, and Blues.

Ray Ramirez (vocals) Born in Harlem (El Barrio), New York and is the cofounder of the Welfare Poets. He has worked as an educator in various Community-based centers and over the past 6 years has consulted as a Writer-in-Residence at over 40 schools through out the city, working through Teachers and Writers Collaborative and The Caribbean Cultural Center. He has published close to 50 student anthologies and spoken word Cds and was the Assistant Engineer on the Project Blues album. His work has been published in various anthologies including A Gathering of the Tribes, and the award winning publication, Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Café.

Hector Rivera (vocals, congas) Cofounder of the Welfare Poets, he has been writing, performing and teaching poetry for the past 12 years. His poetry was commissioned for "Blind Alley," a Puerto Rican Traveling Theater production written by Nancy Nevarez. His poetry was also included in Taller Boricua (NYC) 30th. Anniversary exhibition. As an activist, Hector has participated, organized and led many community struggles around housing, environmental justice, police brutality, political prisoners, and most recently, Vieques. Hector has participated in two acts of civil disobedience against the immoral presence of the US Navy in Vieques. Hector is also an educator at many New York city-based schools.

Keith “Dahu Ala” Hughes (vocals, trumpet and percussion) Born in the village of Harlem, Dahu has studied music in East Harlem and performed in a wide range of conservatories such as Manor House, Boys Harbor, and the Jazz Workshop. In his youth, Dahu was victimized by the criminal justice system. His poetry reflects the brutal treatment he received in their system creating a unique aesthetic style of verse.

Djibril Toure (bass guitar) Producer and Electric Bass player, Djibril has performed with and alongside a wide array of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Ayers, The Roots, Fat Joe, Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Slick Rick, Q-Tip and Jeru the Damaja. His work can also be heard on several recordings by Wu-Tang Clan, Hedrush, Rise & Shine and Rha-Goddess. He is also a committed grassroots activist and has been involved in organizing efforts around police brutality, political prisoners, and Vieques PR.

James “Jamaki” Knight (drum and other percussions) Hails from St. Croix in the Caribbean. It was there that he developed his love of rhythm. He incorporates reggae, jazz, hip hop and African beats into his playing style. One of the founding members of NYC based fusion band Survival Soundz, Jamaki spearheaded the "AVANT YARD", an urban multimedia showcase. Jamaki has recorded with Amel Lariuex, Lyricist Lounge, and has performed with Black Thought, Mos Def, Jessica Care Moore, and Wunmi to name few. Currently based in NYC, he is engineering and producing at UWMSC recording including projects like the X-executioners, and Def Jamaica, Ghetto Roots and Tall Grass.

Jorge Vasquez (timbales, congas and other percussions) Jorge was a member of Los Amigos de la Plena, and is a founder of Yerba Buena. He has played with Viento de Agua Unplugged, Los Instantáneos de la Plena (of El Rincón Criollo), Los Bomberos de Brooklyn, and Taíno. Jorge has performed at prestigious venues throughout the country and Puerto Rico, as well as on radio and television. He was bestowed a Masters’ honor by the folkloric institution Los Pleneros de la 21. His mentors include masters Alberto “Tito” Cepeda and Giovanni Hidalgo. Along with the Welfare Poets, Georgie is a member of Ya Está and recently recorded on their debut album Afro Latino Soul.

Lynn “Emi” Augustin (keyboards and trumpet) Emi grew up playing both piano and trumpet. Also a songwriter, producer/composer, Emi has played for many bands including Survival Sounds, Jazzyfatnastees, Rha Godess, Alkebulon and many others. Emi has also provided keyboard and trumpet for Wu-tang, I.G.T, and has his own crew of performers/producers, the Ah Brothers.

Angel Rodriguez (congas, timbales, chekere) Has been playing percussion for 35 years with the likes of Vanessa Williams, the Apollo Rockers (house band of the Apollo), Seventh Star, Paquito Guzman, Latin Jazz Coalition and many others. Angel has been teaching percussion to South Bronx youth (for free) for six years at the Point CDC. Angel is a master percussionist who documents and preserves the vast cultural legacy Puerto Ricans and Latinos have in this country, particularly in the Bronx. Angel recently was featured in the New York Post's 200th Anniversary issue.

Fidel Paulino (guitar) Born in the Dominican Republic, he has been playing guitar since the age of 12. He has played in many diverse groups and genres such as Ricanstructions (hardcore punk), Palo Monte (Afro-Dominican Roots music) and Yerba Buena (Jibaro and Afro-Puerto Rican music)


"Sak Pasé" is the first single from the newly released album "Rhymes for Treason".

Sak Pasé
From its monumental revolution and establishment as the first free Black nation in the Western Hemisphere, to its current crisis, Sak Pasé is a cry for liberty and freedom for a nation that has contributed so much to the world; Haiti. The song is played in Cuban Cha Cha Cha with a touch of Hip Hop, with usage of Haitian Creole. Some terms used are Sak Pasé, Nag Bulé, Liberté a Ayiti translated to What’s up/Burning or I’m hot/Emancipate Haiti, respectively. Also mentioned is Bwa Kayman, the spiritual site in Haiti where Vodou Priest, Boukman held the ceremony that started the revolution in the 1790’s, which is still inspiring ideas of freedom and revolution in the minds of millions around the world.
The single is currently being streamed thru various internet radio stations like simplyradio, wefunk, beatbasement as well as many college radio stations, National Public Radio stations and Pacifica radio stations throughout the United States.

Set List

The Welfare Poets set last 100 minutes of original music.

1. Inspiration
2. Subliminal
3. Rhymes for Reason
4. These Times
5. Drop the bomb
6. Bomba Sin Plena
7. Sak Pasé
8. Resistance
9. Freedom
10. Ara del Cielo
11. The Light
12. Se Acabo
13. The Media
14. No War