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Parlé Publications DatePosted:5/16/06

Black ICE
Kevin Benoit of Parl
é Publications

Spoken word is a talent, a gift given to only a chosen few.
Being a spoken word artist takes dedication, it takes
honor, it takes passion and most importantly it takes
talent. Lamar Manson, better known as Black Ice has
all of those characteristics.

The Philadelphia native has been blazing a trail of poetry for over ten years, ripping shows, capturing the hearts of his audiences and provoking thought to all who witnessed his lyrical prowess. This led him straight to an impromptu performance in front of Russell Simmons. Simmons just happened to be working on his now popular series Def Poetry Jam. After witnessing Ice he arranged for him to take part in the movement. It hasn’t stopped since.

Ice went on to do Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, torched the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia, and became the first spoken word artist ever signed to a major label with a record deal to Def Jam Records.
Behind the scenes there have been a few changes, and he’s no longer with Def Jam, but Ice is moving forward with his career. This summer he releases his debut album, The Death of Willie Lynch on Koch Records. Parlé recently hooked up with the man who calls himself the Verbal Mercenary to see what life is like for Spoken Word’s Golden Child.

How’d you get the name Black Ice?
Black Ice used to be a group in ’92, ’93 then when the group dissipated they told me I should keep the name. Then I was at a show kicking it with Abiodun [Oyewole] of The Last Poets, and that’s how he described me. Then I just ran with it.

How long have you been writing poetry?

I been writing poetry since I could remember writing. My only goal was to get things off my chest. It was just a way to vent really.

When would you say everything really took off for you and your career?

In 2004, when I met Russell [Simmons] and he was kicking off the whole Def Poetry. That’s when it became serious.

And how’d you two meet up?

I was actually performing up at Soul Café and I got asked to open up for the final pitch to HBO, I met Russell there that night and he took it from there. Sarah Jones and MuMs was there, and those cats were the final acts they were using to pitch the final treatment to HBO. I just happened to be there and I got a lot of attention for it.

That was a pretty big move, what would you say has been the biggest accomplishment of your career?

The biggest accomplishment, career wise was The Live 8, performing in front of 1.5 million in the city that I grew up in was crazy.

How’d that come about?

That was through Russell too.

Do you have a favorite poem to perform?

I would have to say no. I mean people have favorites but I don’t really claim them, they just came through me. They’re all favorites to me. They all seem to shock me sometimes. They’re all my favorites at different times.

What advice do you have for poets and spoken word artists coming up?

Be honest. Don’t be angry, be compassionate. A lot of people take my emotion and my passion on stage as anger, but it’s really compassion. I think if you’re trying to become a star, if that’s what you’re trying to become a star, if that’s what you’re chasing then you shouldn’t be on a spoken word stage.

What inspires you to write poetry?
Everything, life in itself. A lot of times, when I write I don’t set off like I’m going to write this hot thing right here, something happens in life, or something happens personally to me and words get pushed out of me. Sometimes I may set out and pray and ask the universe or what have you to send me something about a certain subject and they come that way, but just life, my kids, my trials, my successes, its miraculous to me, that it comes out and its poetry. All my poetry is directly from my experience.

What was the last poem you wrote?

Last poem I wrote I started yesterday, but I didn’t finish because I had to go into the studio with Natalie from Floetry.

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