For street hustler turned poet Malik Yusef, even his attitude has attitude. The Midwestern griot has made his career as Hip Hop’s labyrinthine “wordsmyth,” reciting rhapsodic verses that chronicle inner city life growing up on the Windy City’s notoriously rough South Side. An unapologetic ghetto scholar with a gift for penning rhythmic tales, Yusef presents paradoxical prose as an ever-twisting saga: A former gangster who condemns the glorification of violence, a man devoted to the principles and values of Islam yet displays adoration for goddess origins and female archetypes and a revolutionary figure inextricably linked to the black power movement yet whose icons include the classic Victorian English playwright William Shakespeare, Yusef embraces the complexities of his contradictions, citing his internal “jihads” as the source of his creativity. His thought provoking words and fluent lexicon tell stories that evoke both the intricate depths and heights of ghetto culture, as well as global socio-economic woes. His proverbial skills are a perfect example of equanimity in a chaotic universe. But that special something about Yusef lies in his ability to be direct and ingeniously charismatic, whether musing on humanism, philanthropy, eschatology or women. Malik Yusef has been honing his craft for over a decade as Chicago’s premiere spoken word artisan, with an arsenal of accolades including a Grammy, Emmy and Peabody Award. Possessing a gift for acute language that would rival the stanzas of Chaucer, Dante or Rumi, Yusef chooses instead to pay homage to his predecessors and seminal icons including Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni and William Wordsworth. Much like the poets before him the Arabic named “ruler” has equally opted for the pen, yet does not hesitate to carry the sword.