When Blake Engelby, sophomore in pre-journalism, is not listening to hip-hop, he is writing verses of his own. What started as an inspiration from a song evolved into Engelby performing spoken word poetry at Open Mic Nights at the Maintenance Shop.
Q: How did you first get involved writing spoken-word poetry?
A: It started by listening to hip-hop in general. It was this song by Kanye West, “Never Let Me Down,” with Jay-Z and J. Ivy. I don’t really care for any of Jay-Z’s verses on there. Or really Kanye’s either. That J. Ivy poem in there just blew my mind. And I was like “That was one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard. That’s pretty cool, I want to try.”
Q: Would you consider yourself a slam poet?
A: I guess, I don’t know. I never really thought about it that way. I just have something to say and go off and say it to people. I don’t know if it’s necessarily “slam poetry.”
Q: What was the first piece you wrote?
A: I guess it was one of the earlier things [I performed]. I don’t really have a name for it. But it’s got this line about, “all these sorority girls are right back on Team Breezy.” That was one of the first ones I wrote.
Q: Do you ever think you are going to get flak for what you say?
A: It’s kind of interesting because [if] other people dislike it, that means more people are hearing it. I guess in a way it’s still getting the message out. It’s kind of like the Facebook page, Christians Against Odd Future. That made so many more people aware of them and that much more popular. If people dislike it I mean, what do they say? There’s no such thing as bad press.
Q: What is your message?
A: It’s mainly equal rights. That’s the core of it, basically. And question everything that’s trying to take those rights away.