4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Revolutionary Stepladder

Many hip-hop artists describe themselves as activists, but Southeast San Diego native Bennie Herron fits that bill more than most. With a master’s degree in social work and a bachelor of arts in psychology from SDSU, Herron is committed to working in the Voz Alta project, a local nonprofit volunteer group whose outreach programs are geared toward teaching African-American and Hispanic youths about social and cultural solidarity and self-respect. In addition, Herron created and coordinates From a Boy to a Man, described online as “an emotional and academic awareness program for African-American males between the ages of 12 to 17.”

In his younger days, Herron was all about street dancing, an urban art form that — in the days of breakdancing — could often be a revolutionary stepladder out of ghetto life and poverty. In the mid-’90s, he joined the spoken-word/performance-art collective the Taco Shop Poets, described as “dedicated to community empowerment through the arts. The Taco Shop Poets seek to bring poetry to the people of San Diego who often gather in taco shops, not cafés.”

“Art is all about the truth,” says the self-described “’70s soul child.” Herron’s politicized Taco Shop performances have often included elements of guerilla theater, intended to foster a sense of community with his audience by emulating the same sort of education-entertainment as contemporary children’s television. He would whisper a “secret” to an audience member and have patrons pass it along in “whisper waves.” Sometimes Herron would tear pages from books and pass them to attendees to read aloud in short segments, composing a spontaneous “collage poem.”

Herron’s recording career began in 1997 with a self-released vinyl EP Low Cal, followed by several other “underground releases,” as he calls them. A full-length album, Churches and Liquor Stores, was released in 2001 on the indie label On 1 Entertainment.

WHAT’S IN YOUR CD PLAYER?

1. J Dilla, Donuts (“His production was so progressive; he filled a void that hip-hop needed.”)

2. Match’d Frantic, self-titled (“The lyrics and beats are crazy.”)

3. Kanye West, mix tape (“It’s old, but I love the raw feel.”)

4. Prodigy, Return of the Mac (“His lyrics and the beats are so vintage; it reminds me of the Kool G Rap era.”)

5. Freestyle Fellowship, Innercity Griots (“It’s old, but it’s timeless.”)

DESERT-ISLAND DVDs?

1. Grease (“I must be honest, Grease is my favorite movie, damn it.”)

2. The Wiz (“So soulful and nostalgic, it reminds me of my family good vibes, man.”)

3. Beat Street (“A classic…need I say more?”)

4. Requiem for a Dream (“This movie is dope, and the artistic style is crazy.”)

5. Angel Rodriguez (“An indie flick with a real simple story that draws you in…it reminds me of my childhood.”)

MOST ADMIRED ENTERTAINER?

“Richard Pryor. To watch a man evolve and grow under the limelight is amazing to me. He overcame so much and opened so many doors for artists today.”

BEST CELEBRITY ENCOUNTER?

“I met Burt Ward, the real Robin from the original Batman TV show, at a comic convention here in San Diego. It was the best, because at the time I was really into Batman and the new movie was being made during that time.”

SEXIEST LOCAL PERFORMER?

“Tanya Johnson is a theater actress in San Diego…she really does it for me.”

MOST VISITED WEBSITE?

“BBC World News. Just the facts, man.”

TOP FIVE GUILTY PLEASURES?

1. Shoes

2. Hats

3. More shoes

4. Cheesy food

5. Shoes

BEST THING YOU EVER WON?

“I won $200 in a writing contest while I was attending Cal State Northridge during my undergraduate studies. It was right on time…I was able to buy some real food.”

TWO THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

“Two things I could not live without are my wife-to-be Tanya Johnson and my family’s love.”

FAVORITE POST-MILLENNIUM HOBBY?

“I don’t play video games, but I am an Internet-head.”

BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?

“My mother, Pat Herron, told me, ‘You meet people for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.’”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Subs off Imperial Beach, Yamamoto's killer, a kid in WWII San Diego

Tarawa, Japanese POWs, my dad's part in Hiroshima, Iwo Jima, captured in Burma

Many hip-hop artists describe themselves as activists, but Southeast San Diego native Bennie Herron fits that bill more than most. With a master’s degree in social work and a bachelor of arts in psychology from SDSU, Herron is committed to working in the Voz Alta project, a local nonprofit volunteer group whose outreach programs are geared toward teaching African-American and Hispanic youths about social and cultural solidarity and self-respect. In addition, Herron created and coordinates From a Boy to a Man, described online as “an emotional and academic awareness program for African-American males between the ages of 12 to 17.”

In his younger days, Herron was all about street dancing, an urban art form that — in the days of breakdancing — could often be a revolutionary stepladder out of ghetto life and poverty. In the mid-’90s, he joined the spoken-word/performance-art collective the Taco Shop Poets, described as “dedicated to community empowerment through the arts. The Taco Shop Poets seek to bring poetry to the people of San Diego who often gather in taco shops, not cafés.”

“Art is all about the truth,” says the self-described “’70s soul child.” Herron’s politicized Taco Shop performances have often included elements of guerilla theater, intended to foster a sense of community with his audience by emulating the same sort of education-entertainment as contemporary children’s television. He would whisper a “secret” to an audience member and have patrons pass it along in “whisper waves.” Sometimes Herron would tear pages from books and pass them to attendees to read aloud in short segments, composing a spontaneous “collage poem.”

Herron’s recording career began in 1997 with a self-released vinyl EP Low Cal, followed by several other “underground releases,” as he calls them. A full-length album, Churches and Liquor Stores, was released in 2001 on the indie label On 1 Entertainment.

WHAT’S IN YOUR CD PLAYER?

1. J Dilla, Donuts (“His production was so progressive; he filled a void that hip-hop needed.”)

2. Match’d Frantic, self-titled (“The lyrics and beats are crazy.”)

3. Kanye West, mix tape (“It’s old, but I love the raw feel.”)

4. Prodigy, Return of the Mac (“His lyrics and the beats are so vintage; it reminds me of the Kool G Rap era.”)

5. Freestyle Fellowship, Innercity Griots (“It’s old, but it’s timeless.”)

DESERT-ISLAND DVDs?

1. Grease (“I must be honest, Grease is my favorite movie, damn it.”)

2. The Wiz (“So soulful and nostalgic, it reminds me of my family good vibes, man.”)

3. Beat Street (“A classic…need I say more?”)

4. Requiem for a Dream (“This movie is dope, and the artistic style is crazy.”)

5. Angel Rodriguez (“An indie flick with a real simple story that draws you in…it reminds me of my childhood.”)

MOST ADMIRED ENTERTAINER?

“Richard Pryor. To watch a man evolve and grow under the limelight is amazing to me. He overcame so much and opened so many doors for artists today.”

BEST CELEBRITY ENCOUNTER?

“I met Burt Ward, the real Robin from the original Batman TV show, at a comic convention here in San Diego. It was the best, because at the time I was really into Batman and the new movie was being made during that time.”

SEXIEST LOCAL PERFORMER?

“Tanya Johnson is a theater actress in San Diego…she really does it for me.”

MOST VISITED WEBSITE?

“BBC World News. Just the facts, man.”

TOP FIVE GUILTY PLEASURES?

1. Shoes

2. Hats

3. More shoes

4. Cheesy food

5. Shoes

BEST THING YOU EVER WON?

“I won $200 in a writing contest while I was attending Cal State Northridge during my undergraduate studies. It was right on time…I was able to buy some real food.”

TWO THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

“Two things I could not live without are my wife-to-be Tanya Johnson and my family’s love.”

FAVORITE POST-MILLENNIUM HOBBY?

“I don’t play video games, but I am an Internet-head.”

BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?

“My mother, Pat Herron, told me, ‘You meet people for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.’”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

College-Rolando Library could end up with no parking

Friendly deal with College Lutheran now in hands of Blue Falcon
Next Article

Robert Graves: among the best poetry in English literature

A novelist, and classicist best known for I, Claudius (1934) and its sequel, Claudius the God
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close