In recent years, experimentalist, performance poet, actor, singer, activist and Nuyorican-style emoter (not4)Prophet has developed one of the most elaborate poetic hybrids around. With wrenching immediacy, (not4)Prophet’s debut collection, Last of The Po’ Ricans y Otras Afro-artifacts, provides an incredible verbal and musical profusion of poetry that reflects the emotional landscapes of the perpetual islands of Puerto Rico and New York. This keen awareness of civic power marks (not4)Prophet as a public poet, or what he likes to call himself, a “barrio bard.”
Written in free verse and layered with cultural and historical references, (not4)Prophet delivers poetry with a strong, studied feeling for the rhythmic integrity of his lines. He begins most of his poems with quotes from writers and historical figures that serve as a preface to the verse that follows. Each poem is a history lesson that investigates the social political and cultural impact of a Puerto Rican born in Ponce living in El Barrio and the Bronx, and his connections to the African American communities he has lived in.
As he elaborates this “otherness” which includes the hassles of poverty, racial pride and racial discord from a sociocultural perspective, (not4)Prophet also pays homage to the old school cats from the Nuyorican and Black Arts movements. In Last of the Po’Ricans, (not4)Prophet breaks boundaries and challenges us with iconic imagery and word play, as he dares to speak of the unspeakable.
So who is this barrio bard? And why the moniker, (not)4Prophet? In According2 Hip-Hop, here’s what (not)4Prophet says:
Long story short, my older brother was in a crew of Graffiti writers when I was a really little kid. One day his crew was a no-show, so he asked me to watch for cops while he painted. Later, one of his crew asked if my brother was “paying me for my services,” and my brother replied that he wasn’t paying me because I was “not for profit.” After that, they all started calling me not4profit or profit. Some years later when I started writing graf myself, I called myself N4P because it took too long to write Not4Profit and because my can control skills weren’t that great (laughs), I took a page out of Jean Michel Basquiat’s book, by writing sayings, quotes and poems instead of JUST my tag. At that point my brother and his crew started calling me “prophet” instead of “Profit” because some of my sayings were “prophetic” according to them (laughs), and my name became Not4Prophet, and it stuck. Most people think it’s some sort of “political statement” that I’m tryin’ to make, and maybe it is, by now. But it didn’t start out that way, really.
January 2012, According2 Hip-Hop
(not4)Prophet became interested in poetry at an early age, but it was at age ten when his father gave him a copy of Piri Thomas’ Down These Mean Streets that he was encouraged to seek out other old school Nuyorican poets and writers.Soon he was inspired to scratch out his own “puerto-poems” on napkins, toilet paper, and whatever else was handy and wasn’t a wall or anyone’s particular “private property.”
He went on to form his first musical band at the age of fourteen and quickly began performing in downtown punk venues, squats, and community gardens in the Lower East Side/Loisaida,NYC, with a plan to step out in public (spaces) with finely honed radical raps, rhymes and lyrical poetry. He the founder of the Puerto Rican anarcho-Independentista arts collective, Ricanstruction Netwerk and visionary of the political, street HipHop movement known as AgitRap Army. Today, the “not for profit” Prophet is recognized and respected in underground, independent music circles as a staunch anti-corporate avenger/artist.
(not4)Prophet has released several indie music CDs and two self-published poetry chapbooks. His writing has appeared in various books and magazines, including Let Fury Have the Hour, Letters from Young Activists, The Quotable Rebel, The Centro Journal, Scrawl Magazine, Ugly Planet Magazine and Salvo ‘Zine. He currently teaches “resistance writing” to those identified as “the homeless” at the Homeless Organizing Academy, located in the South Bronx section of New York City and continues to diligently organize in the ‘hood.
With illustrations by Vagabond, an introduction by the poet, Tony Medina, and a slamming book cover photographed and designed by Sam Lahoz, Last of The Po’ Ricans y Otros Afro-artifacts is a dizzying banquet of visual and oral overload. Stay tune for the book cover unveiling and (not)4Prophet’s book video, coming soon to 2LP.