Real T@lk described himself as “part OutKast, part Busta Rhymes, part Eminem, part a bunch of guys.”
Acclaimed hip-hop artist and one-half of OutKast Andre 3000 once referred to him as a lyrical scientist.
But Real T@lk, born Brandon Alexander Williams, referred to himself as a griot.
“A griot was a west African traveling storyteller,” Williams said. “As a modern-day griot, I consider myself as a storyteller and a poet.”
His style incorporates the genres of hip hop, R&B and what he refers to as “funk love.”
In 2009, he was honored in Source Magazine in its Unsigned Hype feature for his debut mixtape, “The Mo’ Better Mixtape.”
The event that took place Tuesday night in the Bovee University Center Rotunda at 7 p.m. featured Real T@lk, who shared his stories with the 91 in attendance in the form of slam poetry. He shared with the audience his contempt regarding mainstream rap artists, who he referred to as misguided “griots,” whose form of hip-hop, he believes, affected the African-American community detrimentally.
He said he wanted to use the art form to do the very opposite.
“You wanted the war on drugs, son. So what, they could put you in and out of prison,” Williams said in a performance. “Use you to get free slave labor. What do you call it, capitalism?”
Williams also criticized public colleges and universities, which he believes charge too much for their services.
“I feel like you shouldn’t be paying for public education,” Williams said. “You don’t pay for high school, you pay for your books and stuff like that, but you don’t pay for the education.”
Williams strongly emphasized the importance of using one’s time in a university wisely and discouraged students from going into degrees only for potential wealth.
“A piece of advice: I don’t care if you’re a second semester senior,” Williams said. “If you’re in your major for the money, or you aren’t happy, change your major. It’s like dating someone who is ugly that gives you money.”
Southfield sophomore Arisa Settles said she didn’t expect the event to be so relevant to her life.
“It was very nice how he related everything,” Settles said. “He touched issues like single-parent households that are important to the African-American community, my community.”
Wayne senior Renaldo Powell said Real T@lk’s performance was better than expected.
“I’m a rapper myself, and I was impressed,” Powell said.
Powell’s interest in rap caused him to find special meaning in Williams’ performance.
“He showed me that there is still hope in hip hop,” Powell said. “A lot of people who are playing on the radio are just saying nothing. (Williams’) raps had substance.”
CMU’s Program Board brought Real T@lk to campus in celebration of Black History Month.