Presenting one of the more positive images of young black men in the ghetto, mid-90s US rap group the Funky Poets are a four-piece whose intelligent lyrical trickery is defiantly old school, yet whose outlook has been unquestionably informed by the Afrocentricity noises of the Jungle Brothers and De La Soul. The group is made up of brothers Paul and Ray Frazier and their cousins Christian Jordon and Gene Johnson. Together they broke through on the hit single, ‘Born In The Ghetto’, on which they recounted the urban tale of a young sister learning that she is pregnant at the age of 14. The narrative was turned round, making the situation a positive, with the central character emerging renewed, defiant and proud. ‘We’re just telling young black people that there is hope, despite the negative things they face everyday living in neighbourhoods that resemble war zones’. Their lyrics are sharply focused to this end, notably on the self-explanatory ‘Message To A Funky Poet’ poem, which contains couplets relaying the black inner-city experience in its many shades, from crack-dealing to barbecues and fountains gushing from fire hydrants.
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