Growing up in the Bronx, Rahman Brown started rhyming to hip-hop songs when he was 10 years old. He liked the brawny “old school guys” like KRS-One and Chris Cross and, of course, RUN DMC.
“They were able to express what was going on around them,” said Brown, 39, currently an inmate at Concord State Prison doing a 15-30 year stretch on an attempted murder charge. “The whole part of rhyming and rhymes and how to express breaking and poverty.”
It was in the group homes that Brown spent much of his life, being shipped from one to the next, where he learned to rap. He says he would rap over beats and try to “emulate the artists” he admired so much.
Of course much of the content that he would write poems and rhymes to while in his 20s was about dating women. He also read a lot, people like Maya Angelou and studied movies with his heroes starring in them, like Tupac and Janet Jackson’s movie, “Poetic Justice.”
Then, well, all hell broke loose and Brown ended up being institutionalized for 16 years and jailed for 15 more. Basically, the poet’s whole life.
With so much time on his hands since he has been in Concord State, Brown started writing poetry. And the words flowed out of him. Brown says he writes and thinks a lot about George Floyd, women and COVID and he loves putting those thoughts on the page.
“I can’t force it, though,” he said. “It has to just come out of me.”
Brown says even though he is in prison (he hopes to get out in a couple years) he has no plans to ever stop writing poems or rap songs.
“You can trap my body but you can’t trap my mind.”
That’s good for POETS ON THE LOOSE because Brown is next up – and though a bit ironic given the name of this space, as Rahman says, he may be stuck behind bars, for now, but poetry frees his mind.
So, dig in and enjoy. Great work, Rahman!