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Pistols & Prayers 

When: May 21-23, 7:30 p.m. 2010
Price: $10-$20

Spoken word may seem like an inherently personal medium, but many of its practitioners achieve fame without ever purging their own demons. IseLyfe is a shining example. He built a solid career with poems about race, homicides in his East Oakland neighborhood, and the disparities of urban life. Lyfe's song "Beautiful" -- a conscious rap about fly kids with dissolute lifestyles -- is probably the closest he ever came to writing a love ballad. But this year, Lyfe decided to look inward. His new solo show, Pistols & Prayers, covers familiar political turf (with sketches about technology and the myth of "post-racial America"), but it also includes a piece about his grandmother's death. The show, based on a book of the same name, even opens with a prayer. It's not a religious prayer, Lyfe says, but a conversation with "nothingness" that's meant to give the whole show a more intimate tone. He recently premiered Pistols & Prayers at the Berkeley Repertory Theater with musical accompaniment from cellist Michael Fes and folk singer Melanie DeMore, plus DJDC of 106 KMEL. He'll bring it to the Marion E. Greene Theatre (1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland) Friday through Sunday, May 21-23. 7:30 p.m., $10-$20. IseLyfe.com

— Rachel Swan

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