BEST POET Will "Da Real One" Bell www.willdarealone.com
Will "Da Real One" Bell represents the new poetry. He spits words like high-caliber machine-gun fire, and his booming voice sets ears ablaze. He snarls ferocious truth about the things he's seen -- heartbreak and pain, crime and punishment, struggle and poverty. Much of his work is inspired by his hardscrabble Liberty City childhood. His parents still live there, but Will has moved away. "I got tired of coming home and all my stuff was missing," he explains. Now he makes his home in Miami Shores, but "I be keepin' it real for where I am," he stresses. Indeed Will Bell has followed an unusual path to poetry stardom. He discovered his talent while he was a county inmate, serving fourteen months for trafficking cocaine. "It wasn't even the money for me -- it was the lifestyle," he says. "Fast money, money all the time, money every day. You can afford to be very spontaneous when you're raking in four, five grand a day. I wasn't like no Colombian drug lord, but that ain't nothing to sneeze at," he says. "I had a chance to look at who I was when I was incarcerated, which made me make different decisions as a human being when I was released." In 2001 he emerged as Will Da Real One and proceeded to blaze a trail to the top of the local spoken-word scene. Bell was invited to perform on Russell Simmons's HBO program Def Poetry Jam. This past February, he filmed his second appearance on the show. "I've been doing some volunteer work with the Department of Corrections, and I'm trying to introduce poetry workshops in the county jail system." He also co-owns a small coffee shop in North Miami called The Literary Café. "I just got a knack for reaching people," Bell says. "I got a message that I'm trying to distribute, a piece of myself I'm trying to share."