Transcript: I Am Apollo | Sep 20, 2018

A young man with long curly brown hair and a beard faces the camera and sings ONLY A LIAR WITH A PAINTED SMILE
WOULD SAY "I'M FINE,"
SO YOU CAN'T SEE PAIN THROUGH
THIS COAT OF PAINT.
NOW YOU CAN'T SEE PAIN THROUGH
MY COAT OF PAINT.
AND I LEARNED THAT SCIENCE
PROVES THAT SUPERMAN
SHOULD BE BLACK,
I TELL PEOPLE HE WAS.

The tittle of the show reads "I am Apollo."

The man says I AM APOLLO THE CHILD, AND I AM
A SPOKEN-WORD ARTIST.
I LOVED HIP HOP, YOU KNOW, MY
OLDER COUSINS INTRODUCED US
TO A LOT OF HIP HOP.
SO, IT WAS LIKE, "YEAH, I REALLY
LOVE RAP AND EVERYTHING,"
THEY'RE LIKE, "WELL, YOU
SHOULD TRY WRITING."
SO I DID, I STARTED WRITING,
AND THE WRITING WAS AWFUL.
'CAUSE I WAS YOUNG, DID NOT
KNOW WHAT I WAS DOING.
"SPOKEN WORD ARTIST" WAS LIKE,
THE COOLEST THING TO ME,
AND I WANTED TO BE ONE.

He writes some lyrics on a blackboard. They read "Now I know how stone gargoyles feel having wings but knowing they may never fly!"

He says I DECIDED I WAS GONNA DO
THE HOLIDAY ASSEMBLY.
SO AT FIRST, WHEN I SIGNED UP,
I SIGNED UP TO DO HIP HOP,
AND EVERYBODY WAS LIKE, "OH,
COOL, YOU'RE GONNA DO RAP!"
AND I WAS LIKE, UH, NO, I'M
GONNA DO SOME SPOKEN WORD.

He sings SIT AND WRITE UNTIL OUR SKULLS
AND SKIES LIT ON FIRE,
SO I GAVE YOU THE NAME OF
JOHNNY BLAZE,
I GAVE YOU THE NAME OF JOHNNY
BLAZE, AND JOHNNY
WAS A GOOD SUPERMAN, AND
IT FIGURES...

Apollo says EVERYBODY LOVED THAT,
AND I GOT A GREAT REACTION,
AND SO I KNEW THERE WAS
SOMETHING THERE...
KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING THERE.

He sings WISH WE COULD GO BACK IN TIME TO
WHEN WE REALIZED WE WERE BOTH
BEINGS WITH BIG SMILES, AND WE'D
TRY TO OUT-GRIN EACH OTHER.
AND THE LAUGHING FITS
THAT ENSUED.

He says WHEN YOU'RE YOUNG, YOU KINDA
DON'T WANT TO BE DIFFERENT,
YOU DON'T WANT TO STAND OUT LIKE
THAT AT ALL, YOU KNOW?
A LOT OF CHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS
NOW HAVE KINDA BEEN
LEARNING THAT YOU HAVE TO
IDENTITIES, TWO CULTURES.
I DIDN'T KNOW WHERE I BELONGED.

He sings in a foreign language.

He says IF IT WASN'T FOR ART,
I DON'T THINK I WOULD HAVE
MADE IT THROUGH.
YOU KNOW, IN THE MIDDLE EAST,
SPECIFICALLY-- I KNOW,
AS WELL, IN OTHER CULTURES,
THERE'S A HUGE KIND OF
STIGMATIZATION AROUND IT WHERE...
AND I KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE
IN THE COMMUNITY WHO HAVE
KINDA SUFFERED THROUGH
MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, AND...
IT'S ALMOST SEEN AS
SOMETHING TO BE ASHAMED OF.

He sings I'M SO SORRY IT TOOK ME THIS
LONG TO SPEAK OF YOU,
I'M JUST SO TIRED OF WRITING
THESE EULOGIES.

He says ANOTHER FRIEND OF MINE ACTUALLY
PASSED AWAY...
SHE TOOK HER OWN LIFE THAT YEAR,
TOO, LIKE, LITERALLY
RIGHT BEFORE SCHOOL STARTED.
AND THAT KIND OF IMPACTED
A LOT OF US.
MY PARENTS WERE REALLY COUNTING
ON ME TO GET A UNIVERSITY DEGREE
AND THEN START REALLY HELPING
OUT WITH THE FAMILY.
I FELT REALLY ALONE, I FELT LIKE
I WAS JUST A STUDENT NUMBER.
EVENTUALLY I DECIDED WHAT
WAS BEST FOR ME WOULD...
WAS TO DROP OUT, DIDN'T RUN
IT BY MY PARENTS,
WAS VERY, VERY AFRAID OF
WHAT THEY MIGHT THINK,
OR WHAT THEY MIGHT SAY.
UH, AGAIN, BECAUSE, LIKE, IT
WAS A BIG RESPONSIBILITY,
AND I DID KIND OF CRUMBLE
UNDER THAT PRESSURE.
I DEALT WITH MY DEPRESSION
THROUGH ART.

On stage, he says MY PEOPLE, IF YOU'RE WITH
ME, SAY "WORD!"

The crowd says WORD!

Apollo says MY PEOPLE, IF YOU'RE WITH
ME, SAY "WORD!"

The crowd says WORD!

Apollo says MY PEOPLE, IF YOU'RE WITH
ME, SAY "LOVE!"

The crowd says LOVE!

Apollo says THERE YOU GO!

He says THE ORGANIZER WAS LIKE, "HEY,
COME OUT TO URBAN LEGENDS,
IT'S GONNA BE A BI-WEEKLY SHOW
BUT WE ARE DOING AN OPEN MIC."

On stage, he says THANK GOD THE SUN WAS
JUST COMING UP.
I WALKED TO THE BATHROOM...

He says I LEARNED A LOT ABOUT MYSELF,
AND I REALLY CAME INTO MYSELF
BECAUSE OF URBAN LEGENDS.
I TOOK OVER THE DIRECTORSHIP OF
URBAN LEGENDS
IN 2014-15, AND I'VE BEEN
RUNNING EVER SINCE.

He sings THE ONCE QUIET, SKINNY,
FORMER AFRO-SAMURAI
IS NOW LEADER OF THE SHOW HE
STARTED SLAMMING AT.
I SAY THAT WITH PRIDE, I TOOK
MY ART NATIONALLY.

He says I WAS A RAPPER FIRST BEFORE
I EVER WAS A POET.
I LOVE MUSIC... I LOVE MUSIC.
SO MY BROTHER AND I, WE HAVE A
RADIO SHOW TOGETHER AT CARLETON.

At the station, Apollo's brother says YO, MAN, THAT'S FINE.
(UNCLEAR).

Apollo says LET 'EM KNOW, LET 'EM KNOW!
WHEN I FIRST KINDA STARTED DOING
IT, I WAS-- AT THAT POINT,
I'D BEEN PERFORMING FOR AT
LEAST FIVE YEARS,
AND BEING ON THAT MIC, I WAS
ABSOLUTELY PETRIFIED.
AND THEN EVENTUALLY MY OLDER
BROTHER WAS LIKE,
"HEY, MAN, JUST THINK OF IT AS
US HAVING A CONVERSATION."
I KNOW THAT AT THE END OF THE
DAY, IF EVERYTHING GOES WRONG,
I KNOW MY FAMILY IS THERE TO
HOLD ME DOWN
AND HELP SUPPORT ME.

Several family pictures appear on screen.

Apollo says ESPECIALLY AFTER OPENING UP TO
MY PARENTS ABOUT MY DEPRESSION.

He sings WE WERE POLAR OPPOSITES,
AND YET THE SAME...

He says I GO BY APOLLO THE CHILD,
THAT'S MY ARTISTIC NAME,
THE NAME I ALWAYS BRING
TO THE STAGE.
UM, WHEN I WAS IN TENTH GRADE
AND I STUMBLED UPON
THE SECTION OF THE GREEK
GOD, APOLLO,
AND HE WAS NOT ONLY TASKED IN
BRINGING THE SUN,
HE ALSO RULED OVER THE ARTS.

He sings WE PROMISED WE WOULD BE
SPOKEN WORD,
WE PROMISED WE WOULD BUILD A
COMMUNITY USING WORDS.
AND I'M DOING ALL THAT WE TALKED
ABOUT, ALL THAT WE PLANNED FOR,
ALL THAT YOU GAVE ME
CONFIDENCE FOR.

He says MY NAME IS KHALEEFA HAMDAN, AND
I AM A SPOKEN WORD ARTIST.

(music plays)

The lyrics go I'M STANDING AT THE EDGE
OF THE WORLD...
OR WAS IT THE EDGE OF A CLIFF?
THERE'S NO REAL WAY TO BE SURE.
BUT I'VE BEEN HERE BEFORE,
WITH CLOSED EYES AND OPEN SOULS.

The end credits roll.

Watch: I Am Apollo