Originally from Oakland and Berkeley (East Bay all day!*), at age 18 slam-poet-turned-rapper Rafael Casal was the youngest poet to appear on Russell Simmons'* Def* Poetry* on HBO.
His videos range from more polished (both simple, shot-in-a-studio* and with sets and actors*) to raw* and unedited*. (He can also be found holding forth about things you do not want to know about your girlfriend's ex* and the difficulties of dating via IM*.)
While some common hip-hop tropes appear in his work (hustling, pimping, untimely violent death, sweet Cali chronic, and cars that go boom), he's also been getting recognition for his examination of feminism and misogyny. With fellow members of the Getback Crew, he's continued to consider issues such as "the intersection of race, class, gender, etc. in times of national crisis and what happens when people are pushed to the edge" in War Peace: The One Drop Rule*. Directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, the collaboratively-written and -performed play premiered in San Francisco and recently had a special presentation in New Orleans.
These days he's acting as Creative Director of First Wave at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the first university program in the country centered on spoken word and hip-hop culture, and, in his spare time, remixing the University of Wisconsin fight song*.
If you like what you hear, you can download his first and second albums and the Getback mixtape here.
"Russell Simmons' Def Poetry" promo feat. Rafael Casal
First Week of a Break-Up
Barbie and Ken 101
Holdin' Me Back
"On Tour" 100 Bars Straight (Amy Winehouse Remix)
Just the Tip: Too Much Information
Just the Tip: Instant Messaging
War Peace: The One Drop Rule
Under The Bay interview with Rafael Casal (parts 1-3)
Both of his albums and the Getback Crew mixtape have been on heavy rotation here at Team LexiMonkey HQ lately. This morning Pirate called to me from the computer, "Dood, have you checked our Last.FM profile lately? Rafa's up to #9 overall."
"Hey," I called back, "it's research."
And because I got tired of lunging for the pause button to read the definitions, I transcribed the onscreen titles and captions for the Grinch song. So if you can't read fast enough to understand everything in real time but don't want to test your pause-button reflexes, here you go.
Based on a post I recently put up at MetaFilter. Yeah, yeah, unlink your feeds, but as far as I know only one person on my f-list also reads MeFi. And the rest of y'all need the opportunity to discover Rafa!