chapter  13
Three the Hard Way
Pages 12

It is this very mindset-replicated as a generational divide-that Bay Area artists Idris Ackamoor and Kamau challenge in their moving performance "The OG and the B-Boy." The mini-play captures the transformation of public space in black communities over the past three decades as Ackamoor, who plays the saxophone while tap-dancing, personifies previous generations ofblack male artists who claim the "street" as the site of their creative expression. The music of doo-wop, in which black, Latino, and whites congregated on urban street corners to harmonize, and later hip-hop, in which artists constructed lyrical ciphers on those same streets, decades later, are prime examples. As Ackamoor portrays, such men-think of those "old southern men filled with northern pain," to quote Umar Bin Hassan, who still stand on street corners playing standards on their thirty-year-old saxes-are seen as little more than creative have-beens who have no relevance to contemporary black life. Ackamoor's character is juxtaposed with that of Kamau, who embodies the kind of "juvenocratic terror" that has taken over public spaces in black communities. Kamau literally steps on the stage with boom box blaring and cell phone ringing, encapsulating the way that even the sound of hip-hop and the technologies that the form has been shaped by have created asoundscape of terror for some urban dwellers. It is in

the context of this "noise" (Tricia Rose's Black Noise and Tony Mitchell's Global Noise are good reads in this regard) that Ackamoor confronts Kamau, beginning an exchange of perceptions that ultimate1y have to do with the ability of each to make money from his "art." While Ackamoor's character still believes he can make meaningful art and stake out a living tap dancing and playing the sax for small coins, Kamau, who is exposed as a brilliant spoken-word artist, has chosen to give up on the possibility that his art could provide, and instead has chosen a career in street pharmaceuticals. For Kamau's character, the choice was clear: neither performing art on the street nor taking a low-Ieve1 nine-to-five was going to he1p hirn take care of his kids.