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Following these two remarkably musical and politically relevant works [Am/Trak and Reggae or Not!] defining Baraka’s style in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, he reaches even greater heights with In the Tradition. Privately published first in 1982 as a pamphlet, In the Tradition will some day be remembered as perhaps his most important work. In this piece, Baraka masterfully combines politics and cultural affirmation with a mature aesthetics reflective of the verse forms developed in Am/Track and Reggae or Not!. In the Tradition celebrates Baraka’s African-American heritage and its cultural achievement:

        In the tradition of

All of us, in an unending everywhere at the same time line

In motion forever

Like the hip Chicago poet Amus Mor

Like the Art Ensemble

Like Miles’s Venus DeMilo ……………………

in the tradition of all us in the positive aspect

all of our positive selves [.]

Clearly, In the Tradition represents Baraka at his best. By no means has his poetry suffered over the years. Rather, he has matured, finely tuning his lines and putting his listeners more in touch with poetic rhythms in a uniquely African-American tradition.


From a review of Transbluesency in CLA Journal, June 1996. Copyright © 1996 by the College Language Association.