This week, Poetlandia features a different genre of author. Though Ricky Roberts doesn’t consider herself a writer “in the traditional sense,” her song lyrics sear and hiss, proclaim and celebrate, blurring the divide between the stage and the page.
Erika “Ricky” Roberts performs as Ricky Simone, The Hip Hop Activist. Her music is “all about rocking the mic with a bigger purpose… about using hip hop music and hip hop culture to open minds and make positive change in the world.”
As a black lesbian human rights activist, Roberts lives and performs her politics proudly. Her songs directly address racism, sexism, income inequality, homophobia and the places where these issues intersect in our community. Her songs are also deeply personal anthems of self acceptance and faith in the face of discrimination.
Born and raised in Michigan, Roberts came to Athens for love, and though that particular relationship has passed, she feels welcomed by the many musicians and music venues in town. Though she performed poetry in the past, she felt “held back” by her fears and unable to make music. However “being exposed to so many great artists in town inspired me to move ahead with my passion. Athens has given me a stage time after time.”
Roberts’ activism does not end on the stage; rather, if anyone “walks the walk” it is she. She earned her master’s in social work from the University of Michigan and is involved in many different community organizations. She started the Community Empowerment Fund of Athens (CEFA) to assist the working poor of Athens in breaking the cycle of poverty through mini-grants and economic empowerment workshops. (For more info check out economicjusticecoalition.org.) She is also hard at work establishing the Common Ground LGBT Community Center in Athens. (Please contact her through social media to get involved.) On Oct. 15, she will host the Georgia Equality Spirit Day Meet & Greet, a social event and fundraiser to raise money for Georgia Equality, a group that works to create safe schools for LGBT youth.
Here are small samples from two of Ricky Simone’s songs from her new album Johnetta’s Daughter. After you read the lyrics, head over to soundcloud.com/ricky-simone to hear the songs in their entirety.
Where the ladies at?
Where the ladies at?
The rap game aint nothing but a big ole frat
Bunch of little boys running ‘round making noise
Overcompensating bragging about their toys
But we’ll beat down the door ‘til they let us in
Hip hop is missing that estrogen
A touch only female emcees bringing
Threw a message in a bottle ‘cause your rhymes lack meaning
Been too many years of queens missing from the throne
The music reeks from too much testosterone
“Can’t Hold Me Down”
All the arrows in the world point me to self-hate
But God’s is my GPS though my path’s not straight
All I can do is the best that I can
And it just so happens that I love a woman
Love is love I’ve prayed about it (prayed about it)
Made this way there’s no doubt about it (doubt about it)
I know a hater’s job is to hate
Still I gotta be who I am at any rate
All up in my business 24-7
Debating about whether or not I’m going to heaven
Talk is cheap and if talk got any cheaper
They’d be selling Nike tongues instead of sneakers
They say straighten out or go straight to hell
Well your hell better have me a rainbow cell
Waiting to see me lose like my name is Mayweather
Keep on waiting ‘cause that day is never ever
Upcoming Events: Word of Mouth poetry reading, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5 at The Globe. Avid Bookshop poetry series featuring LS McKee, Andrew Nance and Jenny Gropp, 6 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 21.
Send your literary events and brief prose or poetry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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