Hip Hop Poets from Kansas Take a Stance
— 11 / 10 / 2010
writer: Erica Blackmon @T
“They didn’t think hip hop could be so positive,” said Theodore Hughes of the Recipe.
The Recipe is a creative poetic duo that is made up of spoken word artists Desmond Jones and Theodore Hughes.
The Recipe has been taking a stand with their words and making a difference in the lives of young people across
The two go by stage names Priest and 337. Hughes is 44 while Jones is 34 and they both grew up in the inner city
in Kansas. These hip hop poets travel the country performing spoken word and expressing themselves about
Hughes says, “If it’s unjust, we’re going to talk about it.” Their rhymes include themes such as nuclear weapons,
gay rights, minority issues, gangs, violence, and much more. Hughes says that some people hate what they do,
“but they’re listening.”
This month protesters were reportedly thrown out of a City Council meeting in Kansas City and the Recipe was right
across the street, taking a stand as well. They stood in the Ilus Davis Park and recited these rhymes:
“An under handed bandit, // Trying to big brother the planet, // Cheking pockets // And pointing rockets.
Courting doubt, // Disarmament’s what’s this all about. // The U.S. acts like Napoleon on the block, // Trying to see what the competition got.”
However, though the Recipe focuses on political activism in a lot of their poetry, they also reach out to the youth teaching writing workshops at local schools, performing poetry for the youth, and make regular visits to shelters for homeless teens, like Synergy Services. When Priest and 337 visit these schools administrators are often amazed at the results. Priest and 337 are able to get the kids to open up like never before. They ask the students to write whatever is on their mind.
Hughes tells the teens, “If you have nothing to say, literally write, ‘I have nothing to say.”
Hughes and Jones helped the kids open up about abuse and family issues that they would never talk about in
counseling sessions. The duo has a way with helping children speak out and recognize that poetry is a powerful tool.
Hughes reflects back on his junior high school years and the day he realized the power of poetry. He told Kansas
Star news that a story about a new girl who came to his school. The girl was very pretty and all the boys were
trying to get next to her, however Hughes decided to write her a poem and slip it into her book when she wasn’t
looking. After finding the poem, the new girl sat with him during lunch. Hughes friends couldn’t understand why
the girl chose Hughes and when he was asked, “How come she wants to talk to you?” he replied, “Because I’m not
acting like you.” From then on, he knew that poetry had a different kind of power.
Hughes partner Jones took his name, 337, from the name of his best friend. His best friend’s name was Lee and he
created 337 from turning the letters upside down and backwards. Jones met Hughes at a poetry competition one
evening and both of their passions for poetry was evident. That’s when they decided to form the duo.
The Recipe is very faithful in their research. For each political poem they research their subject throughly. They
have been known to spend between eight hours and two weeks working on some of their poems going through up
to ten revisions. They are particular about their themes and try to focus on injustice and diminishing rights.
They talk about the rights of women, gays, minorities, and the poor in several of their pieces. Their
biggest focus lately has been the nuclear weapons plant that is being built in Kansas City.
While protesting in Ilus Davis Park that day, Hughes exclaimed, “We’re supposed to be disarming right? Well, then, why
are we building a nuclear bomb plant when we’re supposed to be in a state of non-nuclear proliferation?”
They finished with a few words on inner-city violence,
“Can we unite as one against our hang-ups and selfishness? Let his blessings and grace be our encouragement. Right
now we need help because this brother got to have what that brother got.
Killing each other on the block. Got to keep it hot, poppin rocks.
Taking over the spot, infrared point blank in the knot.
Trying to get what the other brother got.”
Hip Hop Poets from Kansas Take a Stance
See above "The Recipe" protesting outside. The Kansas Hip Hop duo are kicking up dust with their
aggressive stance on injustice.