I recently sat down with Keith Rodgers, the founder of Black on Black Rhyme and my main inspiration behind poetry and event planning to discuss his visit to Abu Dhabi for the 3rd anniversary of Black on Black Rhyme-Abu Dhabi and Rooftop Rhythms.
Paul D: What was life like growing up in Central Florida called Haines City/ Polk County?
Keith: Growing up in Polk County was like broke freedom meaning that you were broke (financially challenged) but you still had the freedom to have fun(ds)! There were always ways to make money either by picking fruit, mowing lawns, or collecting bottles and cans to be recycled.
Paul D: Traveling a 14 hour flight to visit a movement you helped to create sounds like a big decision. What made you decide to come this year for the 3rd anniversary festivities?
Keith: Being so busy in the States performing as well as hosting and promoting shows makes it hard to go abroad for over a week, so I’ve been planning on coming to the anniversary show for the past two years! I was finally able to make it happen with the support of family friends and fans!
Paul D: What are your memories about the first time we met?
Keith: I still remember your first poem, Red Dirt, which you did in about 2000. I remember your Hip Hop style and delivery. You showed creativity and stage presence even then.
Paul D: I remember you being a great event emcee and taking the time to greet people after the show was over. You’ve seen thousands of performers cross your stages over the past fifteen years of having an open mic. What are a few of the rawest talents you’ve even seen?
Keith: Some of the best talents I’ve seen are you, Ali Langston, Moses West, Ebony Payne, Tebe Zalango, Sunni Patterson and Samantha Thornhill! Of course, there are many more!
Paul D: What is your first experience with rhyming and poetry? When did you know you had a knack for words?
Keith: I’ve always been fascinated with rhymes. As a child I would read the lyrics of songs from the inside sleeve of albums. Sometimes I would rewrite the whole song and make my own rendition. (If only I could sing!) I actually won a talent show in the 5th grade with a poem I wrote in calligraphy.
Paul D: That’s cool. What are your thoughts about Abu Dhabi?
Keith: I love the city and the vibe. I really appreciated the love and support that was shown for poetry! Yes. I definitely think I can live in Abu Dhabi for a few months!
Paul D: What have been your highlights of your trip?
Keith: Some of my highlights for the trip was the hospitality of Dorian, feeling safe no matter where I went, performing and hosting and the beautiful, artistic venues! Oh yes, and the food!
Paul D: Thanks. I learned that hospitality from you though. What is your wish for Black on Black Rhyme/Rooftop Rhythms?
Keith: My wish for Black On Black Rhyme/RoofTop Rhythms is to continue being a force with providing a form of expression for people to enjoy, educate and entertain the ears of strangers and friends alike.
Paul D: What do you think about the future of poetry in the UAE?
Keith: I think the future of poetry in the UAE has the potential to become a leader in the “World of Words”! Especially if they keep bringing in great artists who inspire us to reach higher in our desire to mend, blend and transcend with our pens.
Paul D: Well said. I’m a little short on the bill so how about we blend our dirhams together to pay for this coffee and croissants.
By Dorian “Paul D” Rogers | @pauldTHERIPY