Biography Of Brother Dash

Biography Of Brother Dash

Quick Bio
Brother Dash is a spoken word poet known for his energetic and rhythmic style of delivery combined with a creative use of academic English and “keepin’ it real” prose. He has been writing and performing poetry for over a decade having performed all over the United States and the United Kingdom. He performed for audiences as small as a 1/2 dozen all the way up to 30,000 in London’s Excel Center. Brother Dash’s poetry incorporates themes on spirituality, society, race, gender, culture and religion. He is a refreshingly relevant Spoken Word artist whose work has broad appeal to various age groups, cultures and to Women and Men.

Extensive Biography
Brother Dash is an American convert to Islam whose poetry is influenced by not only his religion but the life experience of an African-American “child of the 80’s” from Brooklyn, NY. He was born Dasham K. Brookins on December 3rd in Brooklyn, NY. At a young age Dash showed a keen interest in reading and writing including a unique interest in reading daily newspapers at the age of 7. Dash wrote his first poem after the tragic death of a childhood friend when he was only 8 years old. Oddly, however, Dash did not write another poem until he was a teenager and then there was another 7 year absence of writing poetry. He only became a consistent poet when he went to college at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. “My focus was on being an actor in theatre and movies. Poetry was more of a hobby at the time. My creative pursuits were in acting” explains Dash. It was during college that Dash started to actually perform some of his poetry in front of live audiences frequenting coffehouses, cafes and poetry venues. Most of Dash’s poetry at this time was socio-political in nature and he had not yet developed any spiritual themes.

Spiritually Brother Dash was always a fervent believer in God even as a young child. Though he did not come from an overly religious family Dash comes from a Christian background with most of his family being of various Protestant denominations. As a young child he would occasionally attend church and even as a teenager there was a time when he would go to Church more regularly. The only exception to this Christian background was that of his Father. At the time of Dash’s birth his Father was a member of the Nation of Islam offshoot known as The Five Percenters. This is why his birth name, Dasham, sounds “Islamic”. In fact growing up people would often ask Dash if he was Muslim because his name sounded Arabic. While he was not Muslim the fact that this would be a consistent question always kept Islam in Dash’s life even on a very surface “Are you Muslim?” level. Some might say that even from birth there was “no getting away from Islam” for him. And sure enough Brother Dash did in fact become Muslim when he took the “Shahada” or testification of faith at a local mosque in New Jersey in front of several congregates in the mid 1990’s. Brother Dash’s sister also took Shahada a few years after he did.

Artistically Brother Dash grew up with a combination of both literary and musical influences. He credits writers from William Shakespeare to Edgar Allan Poe to Langston Hughes, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni as authors and performance poets whose works helped shape his poetry. He credits spoken word pioneers such as The Last Poets and Gil Scott-Herron with providing certain stylistic and structural influences. But most importantly however, as with most youth after the rise of pop culture, Brother Dash’s greatest influence has come from music. “All of the poetry that I actually perform comes to me in the form of a rhythm. In my head it’s music with the words being the notes if that makes any sense” says Dash. “Much of the poetry that is meant really just for me often does not come to me as music strangely enough. If you listen to this album and the first EP I did back in 2005 there are actually a couple of poems that you can tell are different from the others in terms of cadence and energy…that’s because they were not truly meant as performance pieces. I kind of just wrote what I felt but felt the message was important to share” adds Dash. Hip-Hop has given Dash much of the cadence, flow, and energy in his poetry. He was especially influenced by artists such as Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Run DMC, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, LL Cool J, Rakim, and many others. While not a rapper, and Dash is adamant about not being a rapper…Brother Dash’s Spoken Word peformances clearly do borrow from his love Hip-Hop and other musical genres such as funk and jazz. If you listen carefully you can sometimes hear drum riffs, a bass player “pop” on a string, or even a great horn player “blare” in Dash’s delivery.

Today Brother Dash’s poetry is influenced even greater by another important aspect of his life…Islam. As mentioned earlier Brother Dash converted to Islam in the 1990’s shortly after graduating college. He started a family and ceased writing and performing for several years. When Dash did pick up the pen/mic again he found that his “muse” was directing him towards speaking from a new “Islamic” voice. There was less emphasis on the socio-political content he was known for. More poems were being written on spirituality, the relationship of Muslims to each other, and inner conflicts on Islam and the “self”. Today Brother Dash seems to have seamlessly combined all of his influences from the spiritual to the moral to the social to create a unique “sound” and style. Islamically Brother Dash has been heavily influenced by Western raised scholars such as Sheikh Abdullah Adhami, Imam Zaid Shakir, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Siraj Wahhaj. These individuals helped to give Brother Dash a foundation in sound, well researched, traditional Islam but with the balance of understanding how modernity, one’s own culture and Islam fit together. With this combination Brother Dash’s poetry has found a home with Muslim audiences who are looking for a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of how Islam relates to their lives and a home with Non-Muslim audiences that have grown weary of poetry and spoken word that doesn’t address issues or doesn’t sound “poetic” at all.


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