Monday, September 29, 2008

This week's feature


“…He might someday take over Mos Def’s mantle as Hip-Hop’s activist poet laureate

–Seattle Weekly

“Four Stars!”, “If revolution had a movie, Ise Lyfe just might be theme music”

Rising from the streets of Oakland, California, Ise is no stranger to challenging the status quo. In the midst of an ever-growing culture of "Going Dumb" and Hyphy-ness, Ise chooses to spin off of that energy, using that same force to empower and uplift via his vocal and lyrical artillery. "Our communities are full of beautiful people that can’t see their own beauty. People look outside of themselves for anything to make them feel good about themselves, or just good period. Before all of this is over, I'd like to play a roll in influencing people to see the answer within." 

Ise first got national recognition in 2000 competing in the annual Youth Speaks Poetry Slam Finals and represented the San Francisco Bay Area at the Youth Speaks National Poetry Slam in 2001, which caused his popularity to sky-rocket. He has been featured on Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam on HBO. He has also shared the stage with Dave Chappelle, Lauryn Hill, Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, E-40,Harry Belafonte, KRS-One, Martin Luther, Saul Williams, Ben Harper and Erykah Badu, Zion Eye, and The Coup to name a few.

In the summer of 2008, Ise Lyfe will drop his second LP, “Prince Cometh” (7even89ine Music). The album picks up where the first left off as Ise continues to make thought provoking music, but also gives listeners a more personal perspective.

“I chose the title Prince Cometh for this album for a couple of reasons. This record is a lot more personal than my last album, (“spreadtheWORD”- 2006 Hardknock Records) and I feel like at this particular time in my life I’m really coming into myself, hence, Prince Cometh. At the same time the title reflects what I’ve been seeing as I travel and witness the current state of the world. People everywhere are coming into themselves and choosing to demand what they feel is right and good for them. That’s the theme of this project…”-Ise Lyfe

Despite losing friends and family members to drug abuse, incarceration and violence, Ise says that it wasn’t until he witnessed a murder at a concert that his outlook on life changed for the better. "I realized that I had become numb to the violence and had somehow accepted the idea of dying young. I never wanted to be that way." As a teenager, Ise had stopped writing seriously. However, at the age of 17, it was this life altering experience that would return him to his rhyme books and journals.

Regardless of where his career stands now, Ise is rooted and speaks from the childhood handed to him by Oakland, CA, relating to people and places that exist within this common experience. 

In addition to Hip-Hop and Spoken Word, Ise Lyfe is an innovative businessman-The Owner, Founder, and Executive Director of Lyfe Productives. Through this company, he creates a popular culture of consciousness and finds ways to make both standard and alternative education provocative for young people growing up in the inner-city. Ise facilitates teaching residencies in 8 Bay Area schools and continues spreading his word at Universities, High Schools, Middle Schools, and various agencies not only throughout the United States, but his work has also crossed domestic boarders Having worked in both the United Kingdom and in Ghana, West Africa, he charges forward towards a global platform. 

In 2007, Lyfe Productives helped design a marketing outreach plan for an agency in the Bay Area that provides free mobile HIV/AIDS testing named CAL-PEP. This plan helped lead to over 100 young people being tested at a Labor Day weekend event; more than any number in their 15 year history!

In 2003, Ise began teaching social history and Spoken Word at one of nation's most innovative charter high schools, The School for Social Justice and Community Development in Oakland, CA. He led the youth component at Leadership Excellence in Oakland, CA – A NON-PROFIT organization committed to educating black youth in the areas of social justice and cultural awareness. From 2004 to 2006 he served as Senior Arts-in-Education Associate at Youth Speaks (San Francisco, CA), the leading literary arts agency in the US. There, Lyfe continued his successful approach to blending literacy and performance arts.

In 2004 Ise co-wrote and performed in "CAUSE", a Hip Hop theater piece that fused spoken word with modern dance to address the legacy of hate in the world. Internationally renowned choreographer Robert Moses directed the dance sequences.

He continues to push boundaries and take his message to the next level. “Who’s Krazy?,” a one-man theater piece he penned himself was curetted by Cultural Odyssey of San Francisco and debuted at the 2007 National Black Theater Festival in North Carolina to a sold-out crowd and received rave reviews.  In 2008, the play will gain even more recognition as it will be feature at the 2008 NAACP Theatre Awards.

The accolades keep pouring in for this young man:

  • City Flight Magazine’s Top 25 under 35
  • Honored at the 12th Annual African American Excellence in Business
  • One of the top “101 Black men in California making a Difference”, stood proud as the youngest honoree

Next up, as Ise Lyfe steams ahead, is the release of his first book Pistols and Prayers. This book is sure to please his current fan base, and bring some more folks on board. Nothing but great things are expected from him in the future.

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