Dana Bryant

Wishing from the Top

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Despite a slew of hype, a PBS special, and near-hits by King Missile and Maggie Estep, the spoken word movement never quite got off the ground as a viable commercial entity, but Dana Bryant was one of the scene's most promising talents of the '90s. She was the first woman to be named Grand Slam champion at the Nuyorican Cafe, and with the help of guest artists like Speech, Zap Mama, and PM Dawn, her debut album was one of the genre's most street-savvy and accessible. From the gospel-tinged childhood recollection of "Heat" to the lushly atmospheric ode to pride in self of "Bone Simple," Bryant never allows her poetry's reach to exceed its grasp. Nor does she resort to intellectualizing merely for the sake of showcasing her intelligence. And most importantly, never does she lose sight of what makes poetry such an effective medium to begin with -- heart and soul. A wonderful marriage of poetry and hip-hop.

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