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Lyrispect: A Spectrum of Talent.

September 12, 2013

LyrispectText by Aneesah Coley. Image by G.W. Miller III.

“I wonder sometimes at what point do you get to claim the place you’ve been in for so long,” says Nina “Lyrispect” Ball, a Baltimore native who has lived in Philly for more than 12 years. “You know, because no disrespect to Baltimore – I love where I’m from, I’m proud of where I’m from. But I’ve been in Philly since I was 18. I’m 30 now.”

Lyrispect says that the community of artists here is like a family. She was instantly swept up by the local art scene upon her arrival to study at Temple University. DJ Ryva Parker saw her and invited her to perform spoken word at the famed Black Lily, a weekly showcase of female musicians and artists.

“I ended up coming about three times even though I was underage,” Lyrispect recalls. “She would always get me in and I would always hit the stage. To be a part of that legacy was amazing.”

As an artist who is concerned with societal issues and the uplifting of underserved people, Lyrispect strives to open people’s minds and to preserve culture and history through her work.

“I always make multiple references to books, to places, to historical events, to keeping the memory of our ancestors alive in one way or another,” she says.

Lyrispect has worked hard to disseminate her own words and messages across the city. Anyone passing by 15th and Catherine or 24th and Ridge will find Lyrispect’s writing physically featured on two stand-out murals. As part of a collective called Spoken Soul 215, she also serves as the executive producer of The Harvest, an event she states as being “the largest monthly open mic experience in the tri-state area,” held at World Cafe Live.

With music being a passion of hers, Lyrispect plans to pursue hip-hop beyond the stage at The Harvest.

“I just want to make sure that my content is strong and consistent,” she explains. “I don’t want to be a lazy hip-hop artist or be a novelty because I’m a woman with some level of intelligence, you know, that’s not talking about sex or whatever. I feel so liberated when I freestyle.”

During A Night of True Magic with Mos Def and Lyrispect, a show she hosted in 2007, Lyrispect showcased her hip-hop skills as she performed some rhymes she had written.

“It was like my first time rocking some hip-hop on such a large stage and just kind of being fearless,” she remembers. “So I just never forget the crowd, the rush, the feeling.”

Not limited to just being an artist or a poet, Lyrispect admits her urge to teach college master’s classes. She already teaches youth creative writing and public speaking through DJ Beverly Bond’s Black Girls Rock! Queens’ Camp for Leadership & Excellence and has been a teaching artist for 14 years.

“I put in a lot of time with the younger kids,” she says. “I’m ready to be teaching some adults.”

There is certainly a spectrum to Lyrispect as she has a range of talents, which is part of the origin of her stage name. “Lyrical respect,” she states. “Lyrical aspects. Lyrical spectrum.”

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