“WeWeWeWe the Remarkable” / A Tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks for the Centennial of Her Birth



Randall Horton


The lyrics and compositional structure of Gwendolyn Brooks’ WeWeWe the Remarkable came together on Friday, May 27th, 2015, the night Bob Holman allowed Heroes Are Gang Leaders into his sacred apartment in the East Village of New York City. It has been said Holman is “the postmodern promoter who has done more to bring poetry to cafes and bars than anyone since Lawrence Ferlinghetti.” Anyone that has visited Holman’s apartment will tell you in a second that it is a poet’s dream space to create in, being surrounded by memorabilia and artwork that spans and chronicles the NYC poetry scene since the 60s. There are poems on the walls, on the floors, on building blocks that can be moved directionally to change the meaning of the poem. There are countless books stacked neatly everywhere, and a view of the vibrant city below only helps to accent the creativity of the space. Because HAGL didn’t know how the words would come, we decided to bring our arsenal of books and journals, to take an organic approach and allow Ms. Brooks, as she had been affectionately called for years, to enter our poetic space and guide HAGL. We sought to honor Ms. Brooks in a way that was proper for a literary giant such as her[self]. The song is influence by We Real Cool, of course, but also Brooks’ poems Riot, Sermon on the Warpland, and Carolyn Rodger’s poem which is also serves at the tile to the anthology, Jump Badd, edited by Gwendolyn Brooks. HAGL created in Holman’s apartment overlooking the Bowery, right next door to the Bowery Poetry Club for coincidence, played with language, added new language, scribbled, erased, scribbled again in our journals—and then variegated it all up for the sake of language it[self]. We recorded the next day in New Jersey and from the opening guitar lick, we knew this song would be special. Having just finished working on The Amiri Baraka Project (which is yet to be released), we knew we didn’t want to have We Real Cool just flow over music, any abled body can master that. HAGL is committed to changing how we, especially poets, view the relationship between text and music. And so, HAGL wanted the language to be very interactive within the correlation or non-correlation of music and text, because two things can be true at once. HAGL likes to play off constructed binaries, always looking for an escape route into a new state of being. Special thanks to avery r. young and his brilliance in working the 7th graders of Sojourner Troof Middle-Passage Literary Academy to provide the intro. Also, special thanks to poet/critic Evie Shockley for her theoretical breakdown of Brooks’ work as listeners exit WeWeWe the Remarkable, having experienced HAGL’s interpretation of what Brook’s concept of In the Mecca represents.


Filmmaker Shahari Moore, the Director of Brooks People, stopped by to interview the members of Heroes Are Gang Leaders about the legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks and to chat about the energy behind HAGL’s “WeWeWeWe the Remarkable” which take the the poem “We Run Cool” and marches it straight into a new Jump Bad Blackness!

Pictured: Thomas Sayers Ellis (left), Janice Lowe (center) Randall Horton (center right), and Shahari Moore (right).

WEWEWEWE THE REMARKABLE (for Gwendolyn Brooks) 21:33

avery r. young & the 7th graders of Sojourner Troof Middle-Passage Literary Academy: Words
Margaret Morris: Lead Vocals
James Brandon Lewis: Saxophone, Vocals
Randall Horton: Words
Brandon Moses: Guitar
Thomas Sayers Ellis: Words, Vocals
Ailish Hopper: Words, Background Vocals
Janice Lowe: Piano
Heru Shabaka-ra (Ryan T. Frazier): Trumpet, Vocals
Luke Stewart: Bass, Vocals
Nina Angela Mercer: Words, Vocals
da Frontline: Words, Vocals
Warren “Trae” Crudup: Drums
Evie Shockley: Words
Composed by HAGL
Written by Gwendolyn Brooks, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Randall Horton and Evie Shockley
Arranged by Thomas Sayers Ellis
Produced by TSE and Randall Horton

Paul Wickliffe: Highest Engineer


 We We We We the Remarkable (For Gwendolyn Brooks).  From the Highest Engines Near / Near Higher Engineers CD (link)






 Photo Credits: Black + White Photo by Thomas Sayers Ellis, Color Photo by Diane Allford

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