Watchlist Wednesdays: Ice T does London Jazz Festival

By Anton Constantinou - @Aberrantin

Spread The Word

Visitors to London Jazz Festival this month will have a chance to catch a rare glimpse of legendary rapper and actor, Ice T

The veteran is to accompany Musical Director/ Trumpeter, Ron McCurdy, in a realisation of Langston’s Hughes’s innovative book of poems, Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods of Jazz.

Langston Hughes was a pivotal 20th century poet, social activist, novelist and playwright who played a leading role in the Harlem Renaissance: a explosive African American cultural movement in art, literature, music and fashion. The movement sprang up in 1920’s New York as reaction to the abolishment of slavery and subsequent migration of African Americans to new communities in the North East and Midwest- Harlem being the largest.

Hughes’s big contribution was jazz poetry: principally, poetry with a jazz-like rhythm or style. 1961’s Your  Mama: 12 Moods of Jazz, is essentially one long poem, divided up into 12 sections, which used jazz to evaluate the African American experience at the time. The incorporation of music in poetry gave Hughes an expressive means to talk about  things like racism, capitalism and cultural hegenomy.

McCurdy and co have since adapted the book into a spectacular multimedia concert performance, which uses videography to link the words and music of Hughes with topical images of Ask Your Mama’s people, places, and events. Ice T’s contribution, unsurprisingly, is the spoken word part. A rapper well known for his political raps, Ice T is no stranger to voicing his opinion on the mic- as he did mostly notably with the release of his hugely controversial protest record, Cop Killer in 1992 (see below). Nowadays he’s big in the acting game and has a regular spot on Law & Order: Special Investigations Unit. 

Catch Ice T and Ron Mc Mcurdy in action at The Barbican on Saturday 21st November by purchasing tickets now at: Further details on London Jazz Festival can be found at: For a snapshot of what’s to come, here’s a clip from a previous show:



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