Dr. Maya Angelou once said that “You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated. Please remember that your difficulties do not define you. They simply strengthen your ability to overcome.” This statement describes the prolific author, ingenious producer, and passionate poet, Damian Hamza Taylor aka Hamza Atoi aka Hamza the 7th Sun, perfectly.
Hamza was born in Norfolk, Virginia and was raised by his grandmother in the historical Colonial Place neighborhood. In 1985, he moved to the adjacent yet lower income neighborhood with his mother, called Park Place. Although Colonial Place and Park Place are literally only separated by a street, the different systems of survival couldn’t have been further apart.
Life in Park Place at this time was plagued with poverty and provided many vices designed to lead even the most righteous down the wrong path. With the perpetual presence of stress affiliated with poverty being the everyday reality, parents often found it an incredulous struggle when it came to raising children. Hamza’s mother was a hard lined and no nonsense in her method in rearing her children. So much so that he attributes his “in your face, straight no chaser” approach to life, even during street hustling, is from her low tolerance for foolishness.
As with most children who suffer from impoverished circumstances, Hamza was seduced by the façade of the profitable options of street life at an early age. His induction into this life was prompted by two things: the want to help ease his mothers’ burden of raising three children alone and in its purest form…anger. This emotional choice is not uncommon in impoverished areas and unfortunately, all too soon the child learns that the streets is not a refuge but a divine battleground for the most ancient of wars….good versus evil.
Damian Hamza Taylor fought this war and to the good fortune of the masses, he survived and is willing to share his stories with us. It’s hard to imagine that a suggestion given by a loving Aunt to her angry seven year old nephew would give birth to not only a lifelong passion but also a doorway to a new life away from despair. The suggestion of Hamza’s aunt has led to him being hailed and celebrated in every social medium imaginable and that great feat in of itself may have seemed beyond his wildest dreams.
His genius has been featured on radio juggernauts like Clear channel via stations like Z104 and 103Jamz, to the Hip Hop music industry becoming a contemporary of and ultimately recording with one of the most sought after platinum certified producers in the hip hop culture named Nottz Raw, to being featured on a television show called BET Soundstage, which was televised nationally on Black Entertainment Television network, to having his work featured in a literary anthology created by highly respected literary greats Bruce George and the late Louis Reyes Rivera called the “Bandana Republic” to being awarded prestigious local literary honors.
Hamza has taken his journey to a new level with the release of his debut novel called “Baker Grimes” and the release of his first book of poetry called “SHE”. Both of these debut efforts have received rave reviews and critical acclaim predicting that Hamza will become one of most notable authors of urban literature. Taylor’s' works are being compared to those of Donald Goines, Nathan McCall, and Richard Wright.
Hamza is truly a man of many talents and possesses the perpetual passion for sharing his stories of overcoming struggle to making his, seemingly, impossible dreams come to fruition. Atoi has expressed that his quest in sharing these stories is more so to inspire change in the communities that are wracked with poverty and dilapidated resources.
Now, with this new release of blunt force trauma poems (Dope Boy Metaphors), and a new poetry CD (soon to be released) “Peasents don’t look up.” Hamza has bared all. He is quoted as saying “As a writer, I only want to give people a story with meaning. I’m not glorifying anything. I just want people to wake up with the resolve to become solutions to the problems that plague our cities.” As one reads the brilliance that Hamza has offered the world so far, he’s definitely on his way to defeating more odds and making another dream a reality, thus proving to the world that a prisoner of poverty can become a liege of literature.