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The two part poem has two beats, one for each section. Both beats were made by the up-and-coming DJ/Producer LD Technicali, known for his work with LMNO and Visionaries. He's one of the most active producers and DJ's on the West Coast, also known for ripping it at his live mixing sets. We recorded this a few years back.
The poem's two parts are basketball championships and musical history. As a student of American cities I have read a lot about Detroit, its geopolitical implications and cultural history. The names and allusions in the poem are the tip of sociopolitical iceberg. Look further if so inspired.
Part One begins with basketball. I am a lifelong Los Angeles Laker fan. The first Laker game I attended in 1981 Magic Johnson hit a half-court shot at the buzzer. A few years later Kareem Abdul Jabbar broke the scoring record and my ultra-cool stepfather and I went to the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood for the game. Chick Hearn and Laker games were an important part of my early education. The rivals were the 76ers, Celtics and then the Detroit Pistons. The Lakers played the Pistons for the championship twice in 1988 and then 1989 as well. We won the first series and lost the next. This poem reminisces about Laker history and Detroit's roster of Bad Boys dating back to Rodman, Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars. Bill Laimbeer had a few good years. In 2004 we played Detroit again in the championship and they won. Kobe and Shaq got beat up by the bad boys.
Part Two is musical history. I have covered L.A. musical history in poems like "L.A. Authors" and "Watts to Leimert Park"; in this piece I celebrate Detroit's musical history. The musical history of Detroit is as rich as any city in America with deep roots in Soul, Punk, Techno, Industrial, Motown. It's the home of hip hop legends like Jay Dilla and Eminem.
Detroit vs. Los Angeles playing for the championship, basketball against the bad boys, can you handle it? Two very different cities with separate style, ethics and choice of weapons. Just check it...
- More on L.A. Letters:
- Reading Route 66: The Literary Road from Chicago to Los Angeles
- Beats & Rhymes: Density in the Heart of the Inner City
- From Venice to Santa Cruz: A Poetry Festival Returns
- Beats & Rhymes: Watts to Leimert Park
- Rappin' Black in Los Angeles
- Beats & Rhymes: A Tale of L.A. Literature
- Lionel Rolfe and Johnny Otis: Literary Icons of L.A.
Mike Sonksen aka Mike the Poet is a spoken word artist, tour guide, educator, journalist, and historian. L.A. Letters celebrates bright moments from literary Los Angeles with spoken and written word. See his Departures StoryShare videos here and here. Keep up with his activities by following his tumblr and Youtube channel.
Top photo: Catching a Pistons vs. Lakers game by Brad Ruggles used under a Creative Commons license