I had the chance to catch up with Mania Music Group artist, Kane Mayfield outside of the Emergence Community Arts Collective after his feature at Washington DC’s longest running poetry open mic “Spit Dat.” A rapper featuring at a poetry venue means being heard with high lyrical expectations less the rowdy bar, dj, and crowd heckling. Kane surpassed all expectations by orchestrating an acapella performance with rhyming over a soul clap from the crowd, and flowing with a beat streaming live from his head to his lips. Kane is no stranger to poetry venues, but does not write poems. He owns his art as rap, however, developing the relationships between various arts diversify a rapper into an appeal stretching from the educated mind, to ratchet acts, to street life and back.
Explaining the difference between the experience of a rapper and the experience of a poet, he stated:
“rap is like sparring. You compete until you get to the top then people just want to be entertained. Poetry is the exact opposite. Being a poet is entertainment until you get to a certain level then it’s competition.”
Rappers aren’t always welcomed into poetry spaces. Even though rap is a form of poetry, poetry is not a form of rap therefore, they are often considered to be two very different animals. When asked how does it feel to be a rapper performing at a poetry event. He replied:
“It’s like the story of The Golden Fleece, where a character on a journey reached a comfortable place. The comfortable place was a welcoming atmosphere but was not the golden fleece. Poetry venues are comfortable for rappers because you don’t have to be somebody to be a poet. You can just be you. In rap, you have to be somebody. Like I said, poetry is from hugs to gloves, rap is from gloves to hugs. This is why sometimes you will see rappers hiding out as poets in poetry venues. I’ve come to own who I am. I am a rapper.”
Kane has an awesome story of being a rapper who decided maybe rap wouldn’t work out so he went on a traditional life path. This included becoming a financial advisor, working on Wall Street, and becoming engaged to be married. This was never his initial plan. Kane Mayfield is and always will be a rapper. With his slick talk, personable yet street life backed mentality and knowledge of finances I can imagine he gives industry execs a run for their own money!
My interpretation of the first video off of his latest project Rhymes by Kane: Thievery Corporation Edition called “Beautiful Drug” begins with the impeccable emotional story told between images of beauty, the struggle addiction, and savior complex nature of friendship. My honest initial thought was “WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED?!” The story seemed typical; dead guy in opening scene coupled with the song title “beautiful drug” means guy must have been killed by drug dealer. The woman with pink hair and glass of wine represents a drunken out of mind beauty which is the result of gaining a certain level of high. The black and white images appear to be a back story related to the progression of the story. The images of Kane rapping in color appear to be the present day conversation between Kane and himself in the mirror about what happened to his friend. As the story forms toward how/who killed the guy previously shown dead in the opening scene I expected to see him avenge his friend by hunting down a potential killer. However, I was totally off! At the conclusion of the video it is actually Kane whose the drug dealer that killed his friend who was a drug dealing drug addict. I immediately wanted to know/see more. I watched the video two and three times over listening to the lyrics and watching the story unfold backwards and forwards in front of me. In an attempt to save his friend from being killed by the drugs they both dealed he took his life in a savior/hero fashion. The video and lyrics of “Beautiful Drug portray the realism behind the misery of addiction combined with the misery of those affected by the addicted.
After just meeting Kane and interviewing him about poetry I wanted to call him up and ask him “are you sure you’re not a poet!” If not a poet, I would say he is ultimately a creative mastermind and storyteller to which much attention deserves to be paid.