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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist w/ over a decade of experience. Lover of good music, fringe movies, day baseball & chicken shawarma. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week – Dyalekt
Monday, October 29, 2007

Poet, playwright, actor, educator, MC, multi-ethnic and multi-faceted, Dyalekt lives his life truly embodying the word Artist. Very little that he does isn’t in the name of some form of art and with all of those things he throws himself into he always finds some way to work Hip-Hop into each and every one of them. A little over a year ago Dyalekt wrote and starred in his own one man Hip-Hop Theater show titled Square Peg Syndrome and now he is ready to release the music from that show, along with some of his other work, on his debut LP. Though he’s currently on tour in Europe with two other members of the Mindspray crew, a Brooklyn based rap group he joined over two years ago, Dyalekt sat down with me before his plane took off to discuss what Square Peg Syndrome is all about, why he feels everyone can relate to it, and how he's utilizing Hip-Hop to create a new way of learning in the classroom.

Adam Bernard: Your album is music that comes from your one man Hip-Hop Theater show, Square Peg Syndrome. Explain to everyone what Square Peg Syndrome is and how you feel you relate to it?
Dyalekt: In corporate terms it’s when someone new isn't meshing with the office and there's a manual to combat it. The Urban Dictionary defines it as “a case of extreme persistence and/or stubbornness in trying to force something that just won't fit, especially physically but also metaphorically often caused by a desire for efficiency that ends up counterproductively wasting time and ending with a precarious outcome or damage if left unchecked.” It's a pretty simple metaphor; it's about not fitting in. In my case I'm a Black man that passes, of Jewish descent, but technically not a Jew because my mom isn't. I did go to Saturday School, though, and I own a dreidel. Born in Philly, but I don't know where to get a good cheese steak. Raised in St. Croix, but I’m not a born Cruzan. About the only community I ever felt a part of was Hip-Hop cuz the whole point of Hip-Hop is to be inclusive rather than exclusive. You just gotta be dope. Religions, ethnic groups, heritages, all of those things are just universally respected cliques. It's all groupings. Even cats who just try to live and vibe get labeled; Punks, Hip-Hoppers, Hippies, etc. See, we're the "others" on the check box. Just so happens that now there are enough “others” to have their own clique.

Adam Bernard: So despite how exact you are in your Square Peg-ness you’re saying the overall concept is a universal one that a lot of people can relate to.
Dyalekt: Well, have you ever felt excluded? Picked last for the ball team? Didn't get the joke, or listen to that band? Judged for your skin tone, accent, size, manner of dress? Told you couldn't join something for whatever reason? Told who you couldn't bang? If so, you should feel me. If not, then I guess you'll just have to like the beats.

Adam Bernard: The music and the show worked perfectly together, but how have you made sure the songs also work as stand alone pieces?
Dyalekt: I get on that microcosm macrocosm thing. Each chapter is a story in and of itself. The play is a bunch of little ideas that create a larger one overall. Every track is its own paragraph. You don't need any sort of context to get the little points I make. Plus the beats jam like Pac Man.

Adam Bernard: Even though this is a solo project you are also part of the large Brooklyn based Mindspray crew. How has being in a crew with nearly a dozen other artists affected you as an artist?
Dyalekt: Art, at its essence, is conversation. I figure that's our job, to find un-stressful ways to relate and connect to each other. Adding more perspectives broadens it. What's dope about Mindspray is how varied the ideas and styles are. Those cats inspire me to try things I never would have thought of. I love rocking with contemporaries that fill the voids my art leaves. That's the cipher, a circle made up of parts that may not seem like they fit together, but they fill up the space because they're malleable. They also expose me to crowds who might not have otherwise given me a chance and plus them kids is DOPE. We got 20 albums under our collective belt, the latest being mine. Notice that it's not a solo record. MilkMoney has heavy influence, as an artist and a person, on this record. I've never seen myself as a soloist, because, what is a soloist? It's like an egotistical fantasy to me. "I'm so special, you should hear the unfiltered mess that flows from my brain." It's not that deep. The two of us blend to make a more balanced approach than I could ever do alone. He makes sense with the scratchity scratch and the wugga wugga that I never could with the blah blah blah and the yes yes y'all.

Adam Bernard: Finally, I know you also teach using Hip-Hop. Why does Hip-Hop lend itself to working in a classroom atmosphere?
Dyalekt: Hip-Hop spreads because it cannot be taught by the traditional method. It is learned through action. Hip-Hop is not a spectator sport. "Teachers" in Hip-Hop play the role of facilitator rather than instructor. What we inspire is the opportunity for autonomy. Students have a chance to create and express on their own, without any restraints. That's what I call Hip-Hop. Afrika Bambaataa intends for Hip-Hop to be a common bond. It creates a unified culture born from rational actions, rather than historical precedent. Living in the now on some Tao. Hip-Hop is a feeling, and though it sounds mad "What The Bleep Do We Know" that idea is understood in several forms of art. Feeling is harder to numerically quantify, which leaves the traditional school system unequipped to gauge students' progress. I'm working on that end, creating a Hip-Hop curriculum that shows positive results. Where do I do it? Where do you need me?

Related Links

Website: Dyalekt.com
Blog: dyalekt.blogspot.com
MySpace: myspace.com/mrdyalekt
MySpace: myspace.com/mindsprayopenmic
Mindspray: mindsprayhiphop.com
Smokin Word: smokinword.org

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