The Welfare Poets

The Welfare Poets

BandHip HopJazz

It is Hip Hop at it's core, yet we blend other styles of music like Latin Jazz and rhythms from the Caribbean. We use culture as a tool of resistance and up-liftment, bringing sounds of liberation and rhythms of redemption.


THE WELFARE POETS have been in existence since the early 90's, when two Cornell students from the inner-city of NY (Harlem and the Bronx) came together to write poetry/rhymes of protest and upliftment, accompanied by congas (percussions). A band was created from this union with the purpose of using culture as a tool of resistance, and in the
summer of 2000, the group released their first independent album "Project Blues." The group plays Hip Hop with a fusion of various styles from the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Cuba and Jamaica.

Over their 15 plus years of existence, the Welfare Poets have been not only cultural activist, but they have been directly involved in efforts for social justice, most notably against police brutality, political prisoners, the colonial status of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Naval occupation of the island, environmental justice in New York City and elsewhere and the death penalty. Through teaching residencies and workshops, through activism around community struggles and through sharp-edged performances of music that incorporates Hip Hop, Bomba y Plena, Latin Jazz and other rhythms, the Welfare Poets bring information and inspiration to those facing oppression and those fighting for liberation.

Past Appearances
Some of the Colleges and Universities: Baruch College; Boricua College; Brown University; Buffalo State University; Central Connecticut State; Columbia University; Cornell University, BMCC, City College Hunter, Queens College; Dartmouth University; Dyouville College; Eastern Connecticut State University, Goucher College; Harvard University, Haverford College, Hostos, Ithaca College, Johnson and Wales; LaGuardia Community College; Marymount Manhattan College; Middlebury College; Mountclair State; Mt. Holyoke; New York University; New Jersey Institute of Technology; Northern Illinois University; Oberlin College; Pratt
University; Princeton University; Roosevelt University; Rutgers University; Smith College; Stevenson College; Stonybrook University; SUNY Albany; SUNY Binghamton SUNY Buffalo, SUNY New Paltz; SUNY Old Westbury; SUNY Purchase; Swathmore; Syracuse University; Union College; UC Berkeley; University of Maryland; U Mass. at Amherst; UNLV; University of St. Thomas -- Houston, Texas; Vassar; Wesleyan University and Yale University.

Some of the Caf�s/Clubs/Restaurants/Theaters/Halls: The Beal Bodtch Cafe; The Bourboun Street Blues Cafe (Amsterdam, Netherlands); Bowery Poetry Club; Bronx Academy of Art and Dance; Brooklyn Moon Cafe, Caf� Creole; Caf� Largo; Cafe Zapata (Berlin); Club Cielo; CVGB Gallery; Como Cocoa Caf�; Cooper Union Great Hall; The Cotton Club; The Culture Project Theater (45 Bleecker); Flushing Town Hall; The Flying Sauvage (Berlin); Frank�s Place; Jamm � Speaker's Coner (London); Joloff's Caf�; The Living Project (Iowa); Lot 51; The Harold Washington Cultural Center (Chicago, Ill.), The Newsroom Bar, The Nia Bar (London); Nuyorican Poets Caf�, The Nuyorican Caf� (Puerto Rico); Plan B Bar (London); The Rainbow Pub (Birmingham, England); Rockwells Bar, Sista�s Place; The Puffin Room; Sounds of Brazil (SOBs); Strictly Roots Caf�; The Temple Bar (Cali) and Taller Puertoriqueno (Philadelphia).



Written By: Rayzer Sharp (R. Ramirez)

Verse 1

My religion is to destroy america's capitalist system

its a daily sacrifice and I give offerings with this diction

I was given the original manuscript of "Wretched of the Earth" at my baptism

and what happened next came in flashing visions

cuz' Malcolm blessed me from the Audubon with his infinite wisdom

and Albizu read his version of the 23rd psalm from his prison

as Che was wrapped in a robe the color of crimson

reading from "Making of a New Man" speaking with so much conviction I just sat there and listened

and out of the darkness came Marcus in a instant

who spoke of autonomy from the system breaking down tenants of dependency and it symptoms

and I was on bended knee when satan tempted me

then Pedro Pietri entered me mentally like a form of hypnotherapy

and somehow the Last Poets were sent to me

and blew the revolutionary breath in me

from then I knew that it was my destiny

to definitely fight to the death of me

or eventually make the american hegemony a distant memory

Chorus - I Got That Feeling

Verse 2

as I crept through shadow of death/ holding my breath

with my heart pounding in my chest/ with no time to rest watching my steps

carrying the weight of the oppressed/

battling both the right and the left/ til my thirst for freedom was/ without questioned quenched

I didn't feel peaceful til' I saw Filiberto with an easel/

painting a path/ he told me to follow it no matter where it leads to

then Betances descended to remind what greed do/

showed me the tree of life and told me tend it/ and it will forever feed you

that's when Dessaline handed me my 1st axe/ told me to perfect my hacks

& in the face evil to in fact never be peaceful

then I heard a spark in my mind from Dr. Clarke to remind/ that truth to the deceitful

is so lethal they'll do everything to defeat you

which is when I saw Huey holding an oozie/ and he said he choose me

but told me to keep up cuz' he don't wanna loose me

then Harriet with a rifle in a chariot

spoke about revolution persisted I must marry it

handed me a torch insisted I must carry it

Chorus - I Got That Feeling

Verse 3

I woke to Tupac rhyming over Bob Marley

and Jam Master Jay was loopin "Burning & Lootin"

and the sounds just penetrated my body

and underneath it was the rebel yell of Fidel and my heart started to swell

cuz I also knew history would absolve him as time will tell

then I saw Assata in a gold bata surrounded by Cuban rastas

playing the bata with don Raffa both doctors

have the same understanding of la raza

the people who are abused by coppers

flooded with drugs from mobsters

kids who can't sleep cuz of the choppers

and then Oscar/ Lopez suddenly appeared free to further focus on the hopeless

the dope-heads, broke-heads dressed in Pro-keds

and he was with Mumia, and they were both running in the spirit of a libra

passing out Imani and Nia to both agreers and non-believers

and they said toma, I took it

and it took me to La Isla Mona where I heard the war cry of Anacohana

saw Lolita and I said Dona

I'm so vexed and so stressed my intentions are best

but I'm really confused about what I should to do next

and she said ... do rest, do take some time to digest

all the things you have on your chest and remember to always remain blessed

cuz you can't walk on water if your mind is not at its best

in order to take up the plight of the oppressed

Chorus - I Got That Feeling!

Feel Something

Written By: Rayzer Sharp (R. Ramirez)

Verse 1

I'm still trying to live right
raise my kid right
I know I've done a lot wrong
but damn sure I did right

last night I did write
way past midnight
where my morals and sins fight
it used to be a grim sight -- tell me

whose more real (reel)
than four films?
write the score
to our people's ordeal?

Rayzer Sharp
with the cut of a saw-mill
never saw a mill but I saw a mill
killed over some raw crills

I live where the poor spill
more blood than any war will
this ain't Smallville
freedom's way beyond some tall hill

get for sure killed
can't call the cops
cuz 911 still the most serious joke
for real

this is the other side of hell
this is the most confining cell
this is where you don't break that shell
you won't shake that spell

you don't find that well
well - your soul become for sale
spirit becomes ...

Chorus - What ... would I do ... If I could suddenly feel ... and know once again ... what I feel ... is for real.

verse 2

So I dedicate my life
to a mission of forward of action
revolution is something I want
have no choice but to make it happen

I step up my faction
go over disciplines of addition, subtraction
cyphers and fractions
ammunition and rations

in the tradition of the Jacksons'
Soledad Brother to Man-child
from Jonathan to George
forge a bond with the lord

use my tongue as a sword
take the young who are bored-ignored
find thoughts unexplored
so they won't become state word

I'm evidence of the 5th element
in Hip Hop
most forget it to a detriment
but I'm rapping for the betterment of every hood resident

keeping it more relevant
than tsunamis hitting your settlement
or a hurricane beyond any calculated

most are hesitant
so they spit the same rhetoric
as I speak of artificial disasters
caused by this government

they can block
my distribution
but they won't pocket
my publishing

Chorus - What ... would I do ... If I could suddenly feel ... and know once again ... what I feel ... is for real.

verse 3

I spit it so wicked
I'm mislabeled sadistic
I'm a Hip Hop misfit
won't sell my soul for a mere wish-list

most twist it
into an unrecognizable form
it's a norm
Hip Hop is reduced to some sort of porn

some side freak-show
that won't let the meek grow
a poisonous gas-leak slow
for you to deep-throat

right into your lungs
and into the young
so sentence them to death
now injected - once hung

like Hasan Shakur
now they want Tony Egbuna Ford
not much sense in praying
when there's no answer from the Lord

so we now need to see God
like those calling for Jihad
most of us acting like fucking retards
swearing to be hard

but most be have
so they be slaves
from the cradle to the point
where they can only see graves

this is for all the deejays
and all the graff writers
this is for the Harlem breakers
and all the path lighters

this is for the people struggling
trying find a meaning
revolution is bubbling
the resistance' s increasing

the puzzles we're piecing
rhymeing for treason - working towards freedom
tactics once cold
now they're freezing

Socialism for seizing
forecast world change this season
Venezuela's a beacon
to the destiny of the Puerto Rican

and the rest of the Caribbean
and the world - for that matter
caught up in brain-lock
like still thinking the world's that flatter

past misconceptions we shatter
like 911 the day after
redirect the chatter
to plans of capitalistic disaster

expose destructive factors
to capture to the crafters of CAFTA
use Napster, web-blasters what have ya
to get your message out faster

run away slave
coming back to capture the master
free all drummers and dancers
freedom wonders and those looking for answers

even addressing those
without questions
cuz they have no conception
of their own oppression

Chorus - What ... would I do ... If I could suddenly feel ... and know once again ... what I feel ... is for real.

Warn Them

Written By: Rayzer Sharp (R. Ramirez)

I was raised in streets so cold/ where hope froze
where little kids walk around with no clothes

and not because they have no homes/ but this is how they were shown
how to live too fast and act too grown

where most live so high/ yet only know lows
never learned how to stand on their own/ cuz they always faced life on their toes

but in this concrete jungle with all of its woes
there are roses in Harlem that somehow still grow

and I suppose with some more tilling their flowers will show
nurture the children and the wind will blow

and the world will be a better place instead of the cheddar race
or if not a threat to humanity we will forever face

cuz around my block the youth are used as modern day pawns
hustling death til' there's nothing left from dusk to dawn

'til every last bit of their soul is gone
and they forever travel in shadows to live life amongst the scorn

wishing they could be reborn/ looking for a jack feed on
and some of them mentally/ be gone

and since they never got their read on
they never understood why it was important for them to see their ... seed born

so the next generation grieves on and bleeds on
and this could happen for ... eons

unless we form a legion to attack these demons
that want to stop our breathing/ so we can't inhale freedom

how many of our kids have asthma due to the plaster?
how many of our family members suffer from cancer still look to this government for answers?

how many of our youth go bananas at the color of bandannas
because their minds have been de-sensitized by the time the finished failing grammar?

live most of their lives failing grandma or in the slammer
trying to make runs from the slums of NY to Atlanta

didn't know the difference between a Black Panther and a white panda
both were extinct animals if you asked them

but if you can unmask them and examine/ show them how all the horror in their lives
they observe occurred random/ was due to years of steady planning

how our people have been left stranded and abandoned
trapped in/ way before Katrina ... ever happened

this might create a passion that might move them into action
to take the freedom of their people without asking/ without vote casting

cuz that hasn't ever had an effect on those who haven't
the have-nots who never had it/ cuz they never could get it

raised to be addicts I wish the whole hood would set it
crackers embedded so far in our neighborhoods community boards are segmented

most people we thought represented us were demented
looking at 401K pensions instead of where these land-grabbers were headin'

this could've been prevented/ building which were rented
now you need a mortgage/ and for the poor kids, the playground are now fenced in

so you can see how the young tots damaged from a life of untold knocks
run away from homes with no pops/ in hand-me-down jeans and old socks

away from their mom that pops/ cuz they can clearly see that
the tracks in her arms will only lead to a cold box

and this is why they run non-stop especially from cold cops
and blocks that've been co-opt/ where there's no opp. since Pell was cropped

running towards ciphers of know-nots that roll pot and hold glocks
but the dough got ... them 30 below pushing snow like they're ... robots

to be sent up state and smothered where the po's locked
and this is to the youth that everyone/ 4 - got

but my purpose is to convince you the lyrical used at its pinnacle
could show you how the system can make you utterly cynical

how you're tied from a mental umbilical / why you're skeptical
about your freedom even being perceptible/ why breaking free is questionable

but freedom is so visible/ beyond their economic principles
as emancipation can't be divisible by ten

so it won't be related to anything you spend
nothing you can lend/ no affiliation to the Dollar, Euro, Yen

freedom wouldn't look like no gem
couldn't tell you are by # the inches of your rims

no matter how many pairs of Timbs or what you wear on your limbs
this is not where freedom begins but this is exactly where it ends

cuz when I speak of liberation
I am talking beyond america's upper class imagination

beyond taking long vacations
beyond a house with land the size of the south's largest slave plantation

beyond any payment freedom is not some external sensation
it's definitely a test of patience

some say patience is a virtue/ other say it may curse you
but I know hesitant cats in your circle will definitely hurt you

other may think progress must mirror the moves of a turtle
but I'm sure its a race ran at its own pace with many a hurdle

and for our movement the grounds fertile so I urge you to purge through
the cops already set a curfew

if they catch you after hours they'll definitely search you
might even mirk you

I ain't rhyming for the fuck of it
I take this personal
this is reality rap
nothing virtual

So Alive

Written By: Rayzer Sharp (R. Ramirez)

Verse 1

All I got is this music
with an inner flow
forever tied to my soul
so I just can't lose it

with thoughts so lucid
ideas so exclusive
with an execution
that mentally seduces

and reduces
most competition to excuses
making their microphones
literally useless

so if this song introduces
you to what we been doing
let me step it up
so I just don't ruin

your first impression
I search my lessons
a little deeper
having you realize this joints a sleeper

reminding you of beepers
or even before that
Adidas sneakers
busting through your speakers, busting your tweeters

making you once again
more than a believer
but a Noah (knower)
of true Hip Hop like you built the arc

check the darts
of Rayzer Sharp
even more accurate in the dark
where I make my mark - on you forehead

to turn on your first eye,
your thirst eye, your search eye
where to
I let these words fly

you heard I
now you got a bird's eye
and you got the power
to not let these words die

this was created
on project rooftops
where we used to escape and from below
see the block fluttered with blue tops

and just blue cops
cuz no matter what their
race is
they all need to stop

I recall Tupac giving 2 narcs 2 shots
of more than botox
for he who knows not
only know Job's plot

you can go globe-trot
and watch the globe rot
or embrace the original purpose
of Hip Hop

to free our people from the reality
that forces us to stick spots
stuck inside a six box
hoping its a temporary pit-stop

but the amount of money
made from prisons fits in a big pot
so they're betting on the fact
you do a bid long enough to see your kids locked

Hip Hop is far from dead
it's so alive
let this be no surprise
hear my flow
look in my eyes
cause if it dies
it means you could no longer hear the cries
of black and brown babies world wide on the rise

Verse 2
just 'cuz I'm spiritual
don't mean I'm waiting on miracles
especially if you're trying to feed
over a billion starvin' individuals

whose lives are so miserable
homes are so unlivable
schools are so pitiful
can barely decipher simple syllables

and poverty's so cyclical
it's ritual
and slavery's no longer physical
'cuz its habitual

and revolution's a principle
we're conditioned to find whimsical
so it's ridiculed, miniscule
and misconstrued

and this is so critical
'cuz then we won't fight to free the land
and minerals
and precious ores
which they've traveled shores

fought wars for scores
wrote up international laws
based on the broken hopes
of the soon flammable

whose mandibles are sore
for turning the other cheek
in order for the strong to hear the weak
the meek must blast the ears of the elite

so I speak in the tradition
of resistance
my flow's strictly non-fiction
for the up-liftment of those poverty stricken

so I have no choice
to continue this mission
not like the reason I started diminished
so my journey's far from finished

this fight could be endless
so I am in this
beyond just to battle
but to win this

witness sentences
so efficient
listen to words that glisten
which can only extend from the magnificent

as I take what your favorite emcee
is saying and shift it
for years mislead
now you nod your head to our resistance

Puerto Rican
Brown and gifted
in the People's Army
have you enlisted?

Todo Boricua Machetero!!!
you hear us calling
you better fall in

beyond the survival
of the fittest of Darwin
a simba wachanga roaring
to wake the people from snoring

behind the limelight
rarely moved by few mainstream emcees
outside of Lauryn

'cuz its the underground where

Hip Hop is far from dead
its so alive
let this be no surprise
hear my flow
look in my eyes
cause if it dies
it means you could no longer hear the cries
of black and brown babies worldwide on the rise


May of 2000 - Project Blues

May of 2005 - Rhymes For Treason

May 2007 - Cruel and Unusual Punishment - a Hip Hop compilation of over 20 artists to raise awareness to end the death penalty and necessary funds to help this effort

September 2009 - Warn Them (first full Hip Hop album - no band - all Rhymes by Rayzer Sharp and The Legendary Mic, all beats produced by the Legendary MIC

October 2009 - The Puerto Rican Freedom Album - a dual CD/musical compilation featuring over 30 artists and various styles of music from Puerto Ricans, from the island to the states. The album's goal is to raise awareness about The Puerto Rican Political Prisoners, and to raise funds for them and their families.

Set List

typical performance is one extended set - 45 minutes to and hour and 15 minutes

or two half hour to 45 minute sets

1. Project Blues (soulful poetry over a blues jazz rhythm)
2. The Bullet
3 So Alive (Hip Hop with a touch of Jazz)
4. Sak Pase (Cha Cha Cha and Guajira mixed with Hip Hop)
5. Yo Tengo Kongo (Afro -Cuban rhythm)
6. Feel Something (Hip Hop with touches of Jazz)
7. Hope (Hip Hop with touches of Jazz)
8. Let It Be Known (Hip Hop)
9. Hongo (Afro Puerto Rican Rhythms)
10. Fed Up (Hip Hop)
11. You Don't Know (Hip Hop - love - with touch of Jazz)
12. Freedom (Hip Hop)