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Psalms of my People
Psalms of my People: Vol 1
It is my joy to share with you the cover of my new book Psalms of my People, and to let you know pre-orders are up today on Barnes and Noble and Amazon, with indiebound and others to follow in the next week or so.
This is what Broadleaf had to say about my book: James Baldwin, in his famous talk "The Struggle for the Artist's Integrity," suggests that "the poets (by which I mean all artists) are finally the only people who know the truth about us." And to understand the truth about the history of Black peoples in America, argues lenny duncan, we must look to the modern Black poet: the hip-hop artist.
In Psalms of My People,artist, scholar, and activist lenny duncan treats the work of hip-hop artists from the last several decades--from N.W.A, Tupac, and Biggie to Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar--like sacred scripture. Their songs and lyrics are given full exegetical treatment--a critical and contextual interpretation of text--and are beautifully illustrated, with a blend of ancient and modern art styles illuminating every page.
All the while, duncan traces the history of hip-hop, revealing it as a conduit to tell the modern story of Black liberation in this country, following the bloody trail from the end of the Civil Rights Era through the day George Floyd was sacrificed on the streets of America.
"Who else but the hip-hop artist," asks Duncan, "has embodied the cries, pain, and secret concrete ? Whose art? Our art. Whose story is written in the book of life with crimson lines dipped in a well that is 400+ years deep? Whose story? Our story. For whom does God bring down empires? Us."
Psalms of my People is the project I have been trying to give birth to for the last 3 years. It started as sticky notes on my wall in 2020 and literally made a friend at the time question my sanity. Certainly my publisher, Broadleaf books, while supportive, was skeptical of this idea, or notion, of taking hip hop and treating it like sacred scripture. Giving it its own hermeneutic, power, cultural technology and function, while avoiding being a book that is so didactic it beats the joy out of the project. They side eyed me when I handed them back a book full of my own poetry, about poetry, then demanded an artist. They sat through speeches about why we needed each icon in the book, and how the art should look. The Publisher even sat through several rants about “thing theory” and how I want this book to be an artifact passed from pod to pod and block to block. There are footnotes, but they aren't for the faint of heart. I screamed, I yelled, I conjured, even ripped this book out of me, and I am so grateful it is finally ready for pre-order, and will be in your hands this Jan ‘24!
Here is a link to pre-order: https://a.co/d/27Bv5rf
And here is the amazing cover