Word and Bonds
Hip-hop artist/poet F. Stokes brings constructive messages to CSUMB’s Black Box Cabaret.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
When F. Stokes writes music, he shoots for something more than providing fresh songs good to groove to: “Most of my music has a thread of optimism to it,” he says, “and I always hope that it can carry over into motivation and encouragement for others listening to it. That’s my whole existence.”
As Stokes was growing up on the South Side of Chicago, his mother always played all sorts of different music on the family stereo. From Marvin Gaye to Phil Collins, Stokes began sourcing a vast array of musical styles before he could even talk.
“To have that colorful of a palette playing on my speakers built the foundation for me to explore artists like Patti Smith and Elvis, not just hip-hop and R&B,” he says. “Not just black artists. I see Patti Smith in the same vein as I see Nas. These are all brilliant geniuses and I try not to box them up or categorize.”
Stokes’ debut EP Love, Always pours his kaleidoscope of musical influences over highly personal messages – both good and bad – plucked from his life story. “Aspire to Inspire,” a mash-up of indie-techno beats, autobiography and Common-caliber lyrics, is about unconditional love and the different relationships he has with each of his parents – his father is currently serving a 40-year prison sentence; Stokes considers his mother a mentor and the most important person in his life.
Stokes, who performs Friday at the Black Box Cabaret, describes his full-length debut Fearless Beauty, out in January, as a continuation of where his EP leaves off: an intrepid reflection of the past 17 years of his life and a therapeutic outlet for unleashing emotional baggage, even the most personal stuff.
“To do what I do, and be so vulnerable,” he says, “I have to have fearless energy.”
F. STOKES and LAURA “PIECE” KELLEY perform 9pm Friday, Nov. 2, at Black Box Cabaret, corner of 3rd and 4th Streets, CSUMB, Seaside. $10/general; free/CSUMB students. 582-4580.