On the night of July 26, the amphitheatre of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA) was transformed into the Colosseum for a few hours, as Jamaican hip-hop gladiators Kabaka Pyramid, Five Steez and Shaq The MC put in solid work at the event titled “Verse – The Art of Rhyming”, which was staged by the Poetry Society of Jamaica in partnership with Manifesto Jamaica.
Unlike the gladiatorial contests of old that pitted combatants against each other, this occasion united three of the island’s elite MCs, who demonstrated the power of rhyme and cast the spotlight on the nexus between poetry and hip-hop.
Their words, sharp and piercing like swords, cut through the night air and elicited positive responses from the appreciable crowd. Steez blasted militant and thought-provoking rhymes like a lyrical Che Guevara in his prime. Kabaka, rocking a military green cap a la Fidel Castro, was in his element as he unleashed bars of fire with assured and understated ease. Shaq was as smooth at it gets, delivering poignant hooks and getting his message across with slick wordplay and a cool flow.
Much kudos to the Poetry Society of Jamaica and Manifesto Jamaica for giving hip-hop in Jamaica a much needed avenue of expression.