Behind the arguments of where hip hop began is the basic ideal that it was formed as a movement of free speech and expression for social growth and change.

Roshan Reddy
LSA junior Ayodele Alli will perform at the League Underground Friday. (COURTESY OF AYODELE ALLI)

In similar fashion, the genre of spoken-word poetry mirrors the themes found in hip hop’s creation.

Spoken word – also known as slam poetry – was created without the need of catchy hooks or beats, formed on just the raw power of language and voice.

This art form has become a passion for University students Gabe Peoples, Walter Lacy and, most recently, Ayodele Alli, otherwise known as “The Nigerian Nightmare.”

LSA junior Alli is well known in the arts community for his empowering and introspective messages. He has performed at poetry shows sponsored by the F-Word, the MLK Symposium and at the HEADS Second Annual Salute to Professional Women of Color. Now, he has the opportunity to perform for an audience of his choice Friday night at 8:30 p.m. in the Michigan League Underground.

Alli will host a release show for his album, featuring student-dance groups NVR Flo and Climaxx, music group Uday & El-Wahdi and an open-mic session.

“It feels absolutely phenomenal to be able to put out an album,” Alli said. “Words can’t even describe how it feels to have my poetic blood, sweat and tears on a CD you can purchase for $10.”

“For me, writing gives life meaning,” he said. “It’s like therapy for me, and through my writing and poetry, it serves as therapy for others.”

Alli has recently released his first album titled after his moniker, Nigerian Nightmare.

“The name was given to me by a friend, Jesse Hurse, after a football player from the ’80s, but since then it has come to mean so much more,” he said. “It’s the name of my album, a poem I wrote and it now personifies my poetic character.”

Alli said he uses poetry as more than a way to spend his free time – he promotes strength to all within the sound of his voice.

“I try to promote love, appreciation of life and possibly social and political change, because you never know who may be in your audience,” he said. “You never know the kind of power you may have on a person in power. It’s sort of like saying, ‘Pass it on,’ but I can pass my own through a poetic vision.”

He also has noticed the profound impact his writing can have on the different people who hear him speak.

“People come up to me after a show and tell me how much my poetry moved them, and it’s flattering, but it amazes me even more to know how much I can do mentally.” He’s especially upbeat about his Friday performance.

“The most important thing about putting on this show is to introduce myself to those who aren’t familiar with me and to reintroduce myself to those who are,” he said. “It’s a stage for me to openly express myself without limitations.”

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