In paralyzing times, art can shake off the stalemate and set new wheels in motion. That's the hope of Chicago poet Kevin Coval, who will publish a new collection of poems this April, which features a foreword by Chance The Rapper. Titled A People's History of Chicago, the book chronicles "the history of Chicago through 77 poems, from before white folks arrived to the Cubs winning the world series."
One of the poems — "Baby Come On: An Ode to Footwork" — has been brought to life in a thrilling meeting of three hyper-lucid art forms: music, dance, and poetry. In the video above, Chicago footwork dancer Litebulb makes thunderbolt shapes in a corner-store over an impassioned reading of the poem by Coval, all of which is set to the final minutes of Chance The Rapper's brightly-hued “Everything’s Good (Good Ass Outro)." Coval's words seem to bounce off Litebulb's limbs — "Tip toe kung fu kick/ Then drag the foot in molasses" — as Chance's chipmunked ad-libs of "juke, juke, juke" circle them both.
"I am continually amazed at the ingenuity and genius of young people," Kevin Coval told The FADER over email. "Footwork is an extension of House, sped up in the rich and constantly evolving tradition of Black Diasporic movements. I wanted to tribute a dance culture I have witnessed in small and large spaces in the city that creates so much style and so much heartbreak."
"My initial thoughts on the poem were curious ones, interested in hearing how someone else's perspective from another part of Chicago would be like interpreting our culture," Litebulb told The FADER. "I was really impressed on how Kevin gave thanks to some important figures throughout the poem, and gave notion to certain signature moves only done inside of our culture. The overall video works well and gives a taste of what's it's like walking to the store for me, a Footworker, in Chicago."