The Rap Up: Rage Almighty's Force For Change

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On the track, “Aint No Love,” Jay-Z spits, “I thought I told you characters, I’m not a rapper,” and much of the same can be said when it comes to Rage Almighty.

The Boston native came of age in the Big D and considers himself more of a poet than just a dope emcee. His talents are a wild amalgamation of hip hop, spoken word, neo soul, live performance—or, let me clarify, theatrical performance. You’ve got to admit: A cat who effortlessly played Mercutio in a production of Romeo and Juliet is not your average rapper.

Quick witted-and introspective, Rage isn't afraid to express his artistic talent in all sides of his personality. Whether its anger, passion, admiration or the spirit of competition, he brings the pain. Here, he talks about the things that are most important to him in his professional life these days, like showing love to the sistas who don’t pass the “paper sac” test (is her skin darker than a brown paper bag?) and promoting HIV awareness.

So tell me about your name, when one thinks poet, one usually doesn't think of "rage," per se.

I was (or thought I was) a badass in high school. I got the name Rage from an anger management counselor referring to my temper. Matter of fact, my full nickname was Baby Rage. Rage stuck with me I just added Almighty later once I realized I was a little too old to be called Baby. No disrespect to Lil Wayne's dad. [laughs]

I see you got some Amanda Diva to collaborate on "Soul Survivor." How did you work that out?

I have been a huge fan of Amanda; from her work on Def Poetry, Allhiphop.com and of course her music. I admire her love of Hip-Hop. So when DJ RPM asked me who I wanted to host the mix tape she was the first name I spit out. He got on the phone and made it happen. I was shocked, still am.

Do you see yourself more as a poet who can ride a beat or a rapper with the gift of verse?

I'm a poet, not a rapper. Poetry has always come first; it's a natural thing to me, like breathing. My poetry is always to a beat. Whether the beat is in my head or a real track, it always has a rhythm to me. I come from the dying era of street poets. Poets who never can afford beats but always managed to steal a pen. But (not to sound all Brown Sugar-ish) I've also been in love with Hip-Hop ever since I saw the Method Man "Bring the Pain" video. I was a poet before then--it's my first love. rap is my mistress.

You track that is featured on your Myspace page, "Pretty 4 a Dark Girl"--what made you write that?

I've always been attracted to "dark women" personally. I noticed a lot of them have similar life stories that needed to be told. When I hear people say "She's pretty for a dark girl" I look at them like "What the hell does that mean". Between rappers saying how much they love "yella bones," and black athletes scooping up white women, I had to do something telling dark women they are beautiful, especially the young women in training. It’s amazing how we as a people are taught to hate each other.

That term is still pretty common among black folks, even considering how far we've come. How do you feel about that?

If we don't have love for each other and who we are, we haven't come far at all. Willie Lynch set it all in motion. Like I said, it's amazing how we as a people are taught to hate each other and never realize it. From the images we see on BET to the words we hear on the radio, we don't realize what we are doing to each other. From the day I posted "Pretty 4 a Dark Girl" on Myspace, I have gotten e-mail after e-mail from queens who have never been told that they are beautiful before, that have been taught to hate their skin, hate their heritage and in some cases date outside of their race so their children won't have to go through the same pain. How sad is this, what we are doing to our future mothers, aunts, and grandmothers? This isn't the "white man" doing this, this is us. This proves that we still have a long way to go.

What issues/topics do you want to tackle in upcoming songs?

In "Poetik? Just Us" I didn't really get to speak on the struggles of us young black men. Actually I recently wrote a song called "Superhero" for the fathers holding their families together. I also want to tell my story.

What projects are you working on?

I'm always doing mix tapes. I have "Neo-Soul for Dummies" coming soon and I have a promo mix tape called "Hip-Hop Hero" also in the works. Also, I started recording my second album. I don't know what I am gonna call it yet though.

What do you feel sets you apart from other lyricists in the local landscape?

My music can be played anywhere and all types of people relate to it. I make my music for the people, and whatever the people like I like. So basically I'm not too much of a "Hip-Hop head" to be outta touch with what's hot now.

When’s your next live show?

Hip-Hop for HIV Awareness concerts and The Poe Folks Inner City Rec Tour. Me and King Ashoka are going from rec center to rec center in the DFW and beyond bringing the HIV testing bus and a dope show. I shared the stage with T.I. at our first show. We are trying to spread awareness about the main killer in our community, AIDS.

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