Written by Hannah @hlekren
Sometimes you have the chance to meet people who have the charisma, the stance and the passion to move crowds of people or shift entire worlds into focus. Last night during the Dreaming With Our Eyes Open Tour, I witnessed one of these people in action and I have to talk about it. Because I stood in a crowd of people chanting Witt Lowry’s name as he stood on a stage spitting words as if they are always somewhere under the surface of his skin and all he has to do is set them free, and my brain was at work the whole time thinking of all the ways I could harness the inspiration flowing through me in waves.
I’m not an expert. I listen to hip hop because I love the power it contains. It can be this vehicle for using your voice to fight for something, whether it’s a person, a basic human right, or yourself. More and more these days words, and all the ways they can be wrangled, are becoming an underrated form of expression and it seems we forget that we have a voice and we have a pen. And Witt Lowry is here to remind you of that power.
There came a point in this show that Witt Lowry put on at The Studio at Webster Hall in New York last night when he cut the beat and he performed “Piece of My Mind 3." It was just Witt Lowry and microphone and words he’s written. In that moment, he displayed a spectacular poem he’s written, a rap more along the lines of slam poetry, and damn does he have something to say.
Before he gave his piece of mind he said, “I promise you every line in this song means something.” He made sure the crowd heard every word that he’d carefully written and he brought the focus back to a part of hip hop that can slide out of focus or disappear behind a stellar beat. Words. Words are power. And Witt Lowry is using that power and I want everyone to hear what he has to say. Because it’s not just this one song that holds punch after punch; I don’t know that I’ve heard a Witt Lowry lyric that doesn’t mean something.
“Open your eyes.” This is the echoing phrase that’s still bouncing around in my chest hours after he’s left the stage. “Open your eyes.” Maybe it’s stuck with me because in addition to incredible material to work with and the flow to keep listeners entranced with tracks on repeat for hours - he is using all his tools by exuding an undeniable stage presence. You could see him connecting with the people who had shown up to watch him and to support him. I swear he made eye contact with me and he’s not afraid to hold that connection to draw you in closer to him. And I know it wasn’t just me entranced into his world as he sought out the individuals who showed up for him. His lyrics speak so much about the fakeness of social media or relationships conducted through technology, and he’s there in person and making it personal.
Because there’s so much emotion infused in every line, the first time I heard a Witt Lowry song, I couldn’t breathe properly. The first time you listen, it’s a sucker punch. The second time, your eyes and heart open. And somewhere the breathing becomes easier, because the words have etched themselves in your mind and it’s just a part of you now. He has tracks that I’ve written out by hand because I want these words he’s written to stick with me impermeably. Part of me is drawn to the power that I’ve found in physically writing out the unflinchingly honest and emotionally loaded words that Witt brings through my headphones. It’s the kind of passion, cleverness, and intelligence that I aspire to channel in my own life. All you have to do is listen. All you have to do is show up and let Witt speak to you of truth.
Witt can step in and out of himself, and it sometimes feels like he’s already halfway to understanding who you are before you figure it out yourself. And if you pay attention, his art might find your own voice. I was at this show with someone who had a book idea in the middle of a song and had to write down her ideas immediately. I listen to “Used to You” when I need to figure out pieces of my own writing: “What the f*** am I saying?” If you left the show last night without wanting to create something or to follow a road dotted with the lights of your own passion, then I’m not sure you were listening. “Open your eyes.”
Witt Lowry isn’t just here to show the way, he’s here to give the power back to you: “Why can’t you see all the power in you?” Every word means something. And that shouldn’t just apply to Witt’s poetry. I hope from here I’ll have the courage to use the words in me. And I’ll start here. I had to say something about this Dreaming With Our Eyes Open Tour because it’s high on my list of nights I’ll never forget, especially because this is only the beginning.