In this episode of People’s Party, Talib Kweli and Jasmin Leigh sit down with internationally renowned poet, playwright, performance artist, producer and close friend of Talib — Jessica Care Moore. This interview spans the course of her long and illustrious career as not just a performer, but as someone that also helped spark the success of so many others. The discussion starts with her hometown of Detroit and how growing up in the 313 has impacted her approach to the arts. They go on to talk about her famed poem ‘Black Statue Of Liberty,’ which got her a 5-time win at the Apollo Theater, her push for diversity in the school curriculum, realizing the power of back ownership and then turning down big-label company’s offers to establish her own company in Moore Black Press. Jessica also touches on her strong connection to the hip-hop community. They discuss Detroit’s ‘Hip-Hop Shop’ it’s legacy of historic freestyle battles, DJing, dancing, and poetry, and they talk about her friendships with J-Dilla and Proof.
Later Jessica outlines how the HBO series ‘Def Poetry Jam’ came to fruition, starting with a small group of poets making big waves at a showcase during the Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado. Jessica also gives some insight on the difficulty of finding publishing deals when she chose to do it independently, instead finding success selling high volumes at rap shows, and similar venues. Talib also brings up their trip to Ferguson together after the death of Mike Brown, and asks Jessica how the life-threatening experience of being forced to the ground by police with guns pointed at her impacted her perspective. Jessica then expands on discussions she’s had with her 13 year-old son King over peaceful vs. confrontational approaches to protests. Jessica’s spoken word album ‘Black Tea: The Legend Of Jessi James’ which Talib is featured on gets discussed, they touch on her annual concert festival ‘Black Women Rock’ going strong since 2006, they speak on Yasiin Bey and his struggle with balancing his Islamic faith while being a hip-hop star, and Jessica talks about the ‘Jess Care Moore Foundation’ that she works on with her so King in helping to build curriculum and literacy programs in public schools throughout the country.