Images courtesy of Poet
You’ve heard emcees rap about their cars. You’ve heard them rap about their chemical vices. You’ve even heard them rap about the crimes they’ve committed, the cities they’re from and the groups that they represent. Less commonly do you hear rappers talking about homelessness and politics and the impact that they’ve had in their lives. That’s what’s unique about local rapper Poet: He’s not afraid to open up about the hardships in his life that some of his contemporaries might find embarrassing. Wouldn’t Views from Rio Grande make for very interesting content?
“[Homelessness] impacts my music,” says Poet. You have stereotypes of what being homeless is, but [when you are homeless,] you see it’s all religions and backgrounds.” “It gave me perspective on what it takes to get out of that situation.”
Poet, whose given name is Ryan James Parker, grew up in Orem and was raised by an immigrant mother from Norway. According to him, being raised in a biracial family in a conservative neighborhood was turbulent. It made him feel like an outsider. It’s easy to see his anti-government stance and radical, revolutionary lyrics portrayed in his bars. Imagine if Chuck D was an ex-juggalo from Southern Utah—that’s what Poet’s lyrical style would remind you of. It’s old-school and focuses more on content than rhyme schemes and chants, and the tracks are classic, with ’90s era drums, keys and strings. The production is solid and fits his flow well (thanks to Myster-E, aka Serious Tone). The team at @Da Krib Productions definitely did Poet justice from their Liberty Park–based studio. His first album, The Lone Revolutionary, is available on Bandcamp, iTunes and Soundcloud under the moniker of Poet 801.
For a rapper who has only one album in the game, Poet certainly has venerable backing from locals such as Icy Blu and Clawson, as well as a guest appearance by Madchild of Swollen Members. This far into his young career Poet has already opened for Kottonmouth Kings and Tech N9ne, but it seems that the recognition won’t go to his head.
“I came out here [Salt Lake City] with no ends and no connections,” says Poet. “I just came with my rhymes and my passion and desire to make great music, and the city embraced me. … I always shout out my producers, contributors, my DJ … a lot of artists act like they do it themselves, [but] who’s back there on the computer for you?”
Poet’s strongest attribute is his passion, no doubt. It’s easy to tell that he appreciates his listeners’ aural patronage, and he gives you everything he has—the good and the bad. There are breaks in the rhymes and beats for heartfelt poems or spoken-word excerpts that channel his thoughts in a much more direct and focused form.
Calling out “Fuck the government,” taking Trump supporters to task and condemning celebrities like Hulk Hogan who have had scandals fits right in with the millions of hip-hop fans across America who feel ostracized by society, whether it be because of their social status, color or country of origin.
The Lone Revolutionary Tour, featuring Poet and Kendoggy, starts on May 20. It spans nine cities and 12 states and will conclude on June 3 at The Madison in Provo: “My native county,” Poet says.
Even if urban revolutionary rap isn’t your glass of lemonade, give Poet a try. There are too few genuine rap artists who are in the game out of love for Poet to go unnoticed. Be on the lookout for his second EP, Radical Thought, sometime this fall, and listen to The Lone Revolutionary at poet801.bandcamp.com.