Zahar Williams


will power“Flow” is a magnificent showcase of hip hop's metamorphose from highly promoted lyrics of violence and vulgar displays of wealth back to the uplifting, informative style that laminated its importance in society over 20 years ago. “Flow” embodies smooth, more realistic lyrical imagery, and gets back to hip hop's humble beginning.

A live performance of hip hop theater, the CD succeeds in bringing to life seven storytellers, each unique in background but united in sharing a common interest in humanity, life, culture and the art of storytelling. Connected to their communities like babies to an umbilical cord, the seven storytellers relay their stories of empowerment and the history of their communities in an entertaining way. “Flow” was written and performed by world-renowned entertainer Will Power, who portrays all seven diverse storytellers and delivers a delicious slice of cultural in-depth entertainment.

Will Power has been dubbed a pioneer in the genre of hip hop theater, which consists of monologues and/or storylines strongly influenced by hip hop culture. Power has been featured in various publications such as “Vibe” and “The Source Magazine,” and his solo show, “The Gathering,” considered by many to be the first hip hop theater piece ever created, received phenomenal reviews. Will’s work has been commissioned by Theater Artaud of San Francisco, the National Performance Network, the Vanguard Foundation, and many more distinguished organizations. Despite all the critical success, Power still finds time to reach out to the community and has conducted hundreds of workshops in schools, community centers, colleges, and universities.

Power’s roots in activism resonate in his performance; listeners coast with Power, applauding, sighing and cracking up as he takes us on a fantastic journey that includes, but is not limited to, the storytellers' insight on social and political issues.

One of my favorite tracks is “New Grown," where hip hop head MC New Grown comes across an angry American punching a brick wall, heated because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The angry American is hollering, "Kill all Arabs or send ‘em back where they came from," when MC New Grown hits him with this. “I don’t recall making your folks pay when the building got blown by that man Mc Veigh/ Plus your people aren’t native in this here land bro/ If somebody kicked you out where would you go.”

Another really magnificent moment is "The Cipher." A cipher in the hip hop community is a circle or a huddle of individuals free-styling. In Power's "Cipher," each character is explored, revealing a hidden pain that has drawn them to the cipher.

Power shows his versatility by doctoring up a unique flow for each of his characters, showing the range of hip hop, from the coffee shop poetry style, to the lightning 16 bars in 16 seconds flow. The beat quality of this album is sufficient, the bass lines knock and sometimes borrow from African-rhythms. But this CD isn’t something you want to bump to test your speakers, it’s a live performance so most of the beats are accompanying stories. Power often improvises with the beat, and even does solo beat-boxing. "Flow" is a think piece and aside from some truly hilarious moments, touches on some deep issues. To hip hop heads and music lovers, add “Flow” to your collection and you won’t be disappointed. Holla!

Zahar Williams is a staff writer at WireTap and a student at City College of San Francisco.

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