By Melissa McKenzie
Jared Paul has an opinion and he isn’t afraid to share it.
The Providence, RI native’s newest spoken word album, Jared Paul Live, released in November of last year, tackles many controversial subjects - among them social justice and class inequality.
Paul is passionate about his causes and it shows throughout his album. He reads and speaks with such vitality - at times screaming at his audience - and yet, his message doesn’t feel force-fed. It flows, complete with strategically placed obscenities, and feels genuine. Paul doesn’t just spew words on hot-button issues; he is deeply rooted in the movements, scouring websites, news blogs, and periodicals on a daily basis to stay up-to-date on the problems plaguing the working class.
And, that’s just it. Paul’s message falls on deaf ears when given to the richest in the nation. They often don’t understand the difficulties facing the poor, working Americans - those choosing between feeding their families and keeping their electricity on. Paul’s narrative, and hatred of capitalism and greed, isn’t for the wealthiest in the land. But, for the rest of the country, Paul’s topic choices speak volumes. His slam-style poetry brilliantly intertwines his beliefs and words in a stream of consciousness delivery that resonates among his audience.
“White trash ain’t supposed to study wages,” says Paul in “Class Warpath.” “They want us poor, drunk, dumb and making babies. Hooked on sports, God, porn - keep it brain-dead. But, I made it, out the matrix. Native healers taught me how to shapeshift. How to study race, class and what the state is. I know that capital is just exploited labor. And, there’s a whole lot more - that’s the basics. I found the abyss before I knew what it was. Now I can’t look away until we break it. But, we gonna make it. I can taste it.”
Long-winded sentences, spoken with enthusiasm, are the hallmark of Paul’s style, as he buzzes over some phrases and slows to emphasize others. And, although much of Jared Paul Live focuses on his social activism and anti-capitalist stance, Paul touches on topics unrelated to wealth and the downfall of the U.S. - his decision not to procreate, atheism and lost love, for example.
“Now, I knew [expletive] wasn’t going to be easy,” says Paul in Sea Lion Remix (based off a Sage Francis song). “But, sweet Jesus, I ain’t wanted to sleep with even a single person since she decided to leave me. Way too many books to read. Now, I ain’t got no one I really want to share them with. Out trying to save the world when I should have been home, in my beauty’s arms. Reached out for a dream, let go of my only shooting star. Hey Frank, look at me. The whole world’s on fire and all I got left is this dry, wooden heart.”
Luckily, not all of Paul’s subjects are so melancholy. Paul recounts his arrest at the Republican National Convention with humor and flair in “2008 RNC Arrest Story,” his final track, and a fitting way to close out the album.
From the personal stories woven deep into the fabric of his 14-track poetry collection to political themes and social inequality, Jared Paul Live is a trip through the mind of a wordsmith working to incite change through peaceful protest, education and art.
Jared Paul performed at Santa Clara’s Studio Bongiorno in June and the poet hopes to return to the area later this year. Download Jared Paul Live for $7 or purchase a CD can for $10 at http://jaredpaulsfr.bandcamp.com/album/jared-paul-live. Visit www.jaredpaul.org for tour dates and additional information.