Call Him D-Nice
(for Derrick Jones AKA DJ D-Nice)
By Kevin Powell

Just like
poverty
and the sad killing
of Dr. King
could not stop
the explosion of
hip-hop
up in The Bronx
a global sickness
cannot stop
a deejay
pencil-drawn down
these mean streets
of New York
from
slaying
two turntables
vinyl records
a microphone
and that humble
motto
of hip-hop:
making something from nothing
while spoon-feeding it
to
a multi-cultural multi-generational
worldwide dance party—
call him D-Nice
or call him
a pure rebel
a radical thinker on
a musical level
call him
photographic savior
Basquiat’s graffiti dealer
Yankee-fitted b-boy griot
who backflips multiple hats
while crate digging
our troubled water from the
sewer of this here club quarantine
ain’t no fun
social distancing
ain’t no fun
mad disconnecting
ain’t no fun
hella blaming
D-Nice be like
Harriet Tubman
liberating beats along
the Underground Railroad
D-Nice be like
Puerto Rico Jamaica Carolina
drumbeat
calls
bouncing off
the walls
of slave quarter malls
D-Nice be like
New Orleans ex-slaves
scooping up
neglected instruments
and gifting
the universe
a jazz
we thought
we had lost in Mother Africa
D-Nice be like
Nina Simone/Sarah Vaughan/Billie Holiday
—NinaVaughanHoliday—
yeah
wringing the rag of a note
so much
you can swipe
the tears
slipping from the lyrics
God bless the child
who drinks black coffee
while wishing i knew how it would feel to be free
yeah
D-Nice be like
Motown and Berry Gordy
splitting the electric
hairs of history
with a sound
for this America that America
this world that world
until we realize
like love is love is love is love is love is love
music is music is music is music is music is music
yeah
D-Nice be like Kenny Rodgers
the gambler
who is homeschooling
that people is just people
we them people
and if you
a bandleader
like
DJ D-Nice
like DJ Beverly Bond
like Duke Ellington
like Ella Fitzgerald
like Nile Rodgers
like Chaka Khan
like Stevie Wonder
like Aretha Franklin
like Prince
like Erykah Badu
then you also is
and you also are
oxygen
yeah
relief
yeah
one nation
yeah
a doctor of love
who steers us
into Instagram
all the way live
and we sweat and shake like we sipping on the holy ghost
in kitchens
and living rooms
in bedrooms
and backyards
in Hollywood
and ghettoes
we be poor and we be rich
we be famous famous and we be ‘hood famous
we be Michelle Obama
we be presidential candidates
we be workers on the frontlines
donating our lives
to catch and carry
virus knives
we be voters
we be voters
we be voters
with one hand in the air
waving it like we just don’t care
9 hours strong
9 th wonder and Questlove, what took us so long?
to dream America
to dream a world
where everything
gon be alright
yup, we gon make it, Jadakiss
because last night
i said last night
yeah
yesterday, yeah
today, yeah
tomorrow, yeah
a deejay
came in the form
of criss-crossing fingers and super-sonic soul
and
that
deejay
saved
our
lives—

Words by Kevin Powell: Civil & Human Rights Activist; Public Speaker; Author of 14 books; Poet; Journalist; Filmmaker; Pop Culture Curator; Biographer of Tupac Shakur

D-Nice drawing by Chuck Styles

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