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Artist: Conscious, aka Jerald Proctor

Where'd the name come from? I chose the name because I looked it up in the dictionary, and it means aware of all things around me. My style of spoken word, I speak about the things around my environment, my upbringing, the good, the bad. It's a real life type of thing.

Define spoken word in your own words: Spoken word for me is a way for you to . . . reach a certain sector of people by the things you say. You're a spokesperson for what the rest of the world wants to hear, wants to know, but may not be courageous enough to say it, but you put it in a tactful way that people can understand it.

How does it differ from poetry? Spoken word is more hardcore. Poetry you can kind of take it and be more imaginative. Spoken word is more direct, in your face.

How long have you been performing? I've been doing spoken word for about five years, but writing poetry since I was 11.

Who/what are your influences? I base stuff on the community and things I see around in the neighborhood as far as poverty, racism, classism, sexism. I read a lot of poetry. With spoken word, I listen to Black Ice.

Your music tastes range from Tupac Shakur to Steely Dan. How do you mix those two? With Steely Dan, my aunt liked "Deacon Blues," and I grew to like their songs as a younger guy. . . . You can hear Tupac in (my spoken word), and you can hear Marvin Gaye in there. You're fighting, but you're fighting for something right.

You say on your Web site that you want to meet people who have issues like you. What issues do you have? (I want to meet) people that want to be real. I used to say poet stood for "positive outlets of emotions and thoughts." So when I say people like me, I mean you want to . . . say what you want to say in your own voice . . . but you want to be a voice of the people.

You're a pretty intense guy. What do you do to relax on a Saturday afternoon? Just sit back, relax, play football, play PlayStation, hang out with my kids. I coach sports. I'm really involved a lot with youth. . . . And I write poetry just about every day.

What do you need to work on as an artist? Commit more to memory, and you can always work on delivery. Delivery really makes your spoken word stand out. At the end of what you say, you want people to feel what you feel. Say you're talking about a soda. By the time you're finished, somebody should be wanting that same soda. It's not what you write, it's how you portray it to the crowd.

Shoutouts: I want to say thanks to Trevor Grimes, he did all the music on my CD.

- JASON COX, FLIPSIDE STAFF

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