The latest episode of People’s Party With Talib Kweli welcomes Detroit poet Jessica Care Moore to reflect on her career as a poet and playwright. That career includes performances on the HBO series Def Poetry Jam, appearances on albums from Kweli, Jeezy, and Nas, establishing her own publishing company, Moore Black Press, and friendships with Detroit hip-hop legends like J Dilla, Eminem, and Proof, whom she encountered at the city’s famed venue, The Hip Hop Shop.
Asked about how she became a “go-to poet for hip-hop artists,” Moore details the importance of The Hip Hop Shop to Detroit’s underground rap scene. “I used to run the Hip Hop Shop with Maurice Malone,” she elaborates. “I used to open and close the shop. It was the gathering place for rappers and poets and dancers and culture right on 7 Mile [Road]… Em would come through, Proof hosted the open mic… it was a retail clothing store with a DJ booth and a microphone on the floor. We spent all day there.” Moore details learning business management and credits Malone with popularizing streetwear and hip-hop styles early on.
She also credited J Dilla with being one of the first to think that the idea of putting beats behind her spoken word was a great idea and recalled watching Proof battle Busta Rhymes — a battle she says Proof won handily. “Busta may not admit to this moment,” she chuckles. Kweli affirms, “Proof’s impact was national and it was global.” Moore also takes moment later in the episode to promote her new book, We Want Our Bodies Back, which Refinery29 listed as one of their “Books By Black Women We Can’t Wait To Read in 2020.”
Watch the clip of Moore reminiscing about The Hip Hop Shop below and watch the full episode up top.