KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some might say there's a fine line between hip-hop and poetry, but Matt Spezia blends them together to create his art.
Spezia says after listening to today's mainstream music, he was inspired to do something a little different.
"I looked at what the industry needed," said Spezia. "People say they only listen for the beat so I wanted to change that," Spezia said.
The Washburn student says he first noticed his talent while doing forensics and debate in high school. He says he was later led to take the style of hip-hop and merge it back into a "content-generating field." That's what influenced him to write what he calls rhythm-assisted poetry.
Spezia says he uses his childhood experiences as a motivator. He grew up in Leavenworth right next to the penitentiary, calling it a "monument to oppression."
"I became very interested in learning how our political system worked," said Spezia. "After you look into it and you see the functionality of it, it's just striking honestly. It can't change unless you're willing to stand up to it."
That mindset pushed Spezia on stage and has now encouraged him to become very involved with schools around the Midwest. He works with the organization, POET, to do school & charity drives in Chicago. He's also on contract with Highland Park High School in Topeka to do poetry workshops.
"The messages that we give on stage have to translate into the streets or you're not really making that impact," Spezia said.
Spezia is currently a dual business major, focusing on entrepreneurship and marketing. He says both fields help him to turn his writing into a business.
"I tell people this game is 20 percent creating stuff and 80 percent knowing how to work in business," Spezia said. "It's helped with expansion and contract negotiations."
Because of his success as a slam poet, Spezia has had the opportunity to go on a two-month tour. He has published a book, has two albums and is working on his third project, "Babylon." Spezia has also won national awards and will be traveling to Jamaica in May.