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I stare death in the face gracefully,
over mimosas, cheese crepes and pastries,
caressing life in the small of her back,
Smiling, she turns to smile back,
Through her foundation of Facts,
My hands on her spine,
dividing page after page,
I peak into my past and my future,
I can read the psalms on the parchment,
Gripped by the sweaty palms of a prophet,
I can see the chakras and the sutras,
My life is clothed in a spiritual cloth,
I dice cloves in my ritual broth,
I’m as wild as the Scottish Summer Isles,
I’m a god, in my African garb,
on the white sand beaches of Zanzibar,
I am a traveling man,
to lands so expansive,
Official transcripts of my transit, don’t enhance it,
I can feel the thread from the loom,
On the bed I’m gonna die in,
The hospital room I’ll re-arrive in… at the resurrection.

I am the joy of an innocent boy,
I am the blessed overtones of those double X chromosomes,
I’m a critical study, exceptional math,
I’m theory and praxis,
The intellectual class,
I am doubtful, I am hopeful,
I am vocal and I am complex,
Holy City, Black, local,
In a global context,
I’m the history and the prophecy, I’m benevolent,
I am heirs’ property swallowed up by development,
I am depression and expression, I’m water and blood,
I am the comfort and the company misery loves,
I am the solemn oath and the broken promises,
The feelings of desire,
The higher consciousness,
I am burdened, feeling unworthy, though I am alive,
I am feeling lost on a journey, though I have arrived,
Needing moments of my own peace,
though I am denied,
Every day I cry a little inside, hoping to rise… at the resurrection.

I am the fruitful bud of African native folks,
Ushered into bondage for garments,
I am the revelatory shine of gold and fine diamonds,
mined from those remote climates,
I am the work song,
the Blues lick,
I am the orphan’s improvisational Jazz,
I am the drums and the brass,
I’m all of the exploited,
the boycott and the black dollar,
the boy children, the adolescent,
The black Father,
A broken chain, a vocal refrain,
I’m a James Jamerson bass in a Berry Gordy domain,
I’m a James Brown tenor shout,
screaming out… holding notes,
The pride of my poor, southern Black working folks,
I’m a rebel on these chords,
I’m a funk brother,
Over routine rice cuisine,
I am the Gullah words of my grandmother,
“Oonah chillun bettuh min’..”,
Consequences of decisions when it’s time… for the resurrection.

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Artist. Intellectual. Activist. Benny Starr has emerged as more than a mere hip hop artist. The Lowcountry’s native son has transcended conventional descriptors to take his rightful place as messenger and torch bearer for his people.

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Elliott A. Smith is a Charleston-based creative, writer, and speaker who worked with Benny Starr on A Water Album. He has a background in law and policy and owns a creative services boutique with his wife, singer McKenzie Eddy Smith.