Decora Poet
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Decora Poet

Newburgh, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Newburgh, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Hip Hop Electronic




"Hip-Hop Artist/ Social Activist/ Urban Farmer"

Hometown: None. “Newburgh is my 23rd stop. Most of [my life’s] been in Newburgh and Brooklyn, but I’ve lived in four of New York’s five boroughs, in Texas, in Puerto Rico, in Delaware County, in Warwick—all over.

Lives in: Beacon

Works in: Newburgh. “Businesses used to be afraid to stay open after dark. Now we have a ward system for the council with real representation, and a great city manager, and a lot of people are dipping a toe in the water and jumping in and saying, ‘Hey! Not bad!’ I’d say there are one or two new businesses and three or four new homeowners a month. It’s getting more culturally diverse.”

Favorite part of life in the Hudson Valley: “I can go from city to country in five minutes, on foot.”

Least favorite thing about upstate: “The cold. A Virginia climate would work. When water starts freezing, that’s too much.”

“Travel gives you an old soul,” says Decora Sandiford. He should know—he’s been on the move and writing about it since he was 13. Today, he’s renowned for both his art and his activism, and he and his longtime partner, Jennifer Loeb, are parents of a son, Samson, born in 2012. But he found his life’s path in 2001, at an open mike night at his alma mater, Orange County Community College. There, he met some boon companions, and founded the ReadNex Poetry Squad. In 2008, the quintet toured 40 cities, released an album, Social Issue (followed by The Day before Sound in 2010), and launched “Hip Hop and Poetry Saved My Life,” a youth workshop targeting multiple intelligences via multi-arts education. Today, the workshop is taught at 87 schools across the U.S. and abroad, and ReadNex’s five members consider one another family.

In 2009, ReadNex played the Great Hudson River Revival, aka the Clearwater Festival, with the late Pete Seeger’s grandson, Tao. “Teaching hip-hop workshops, we hit around 100 schools in three years [as] the education departments of both New York State and Washington, D.C., and lots of organizations picked it up,” Decora recalls. “One was Clearwater. I started talking with Pete Seeger—he didn’t have an entourage. We just hung around the office. So did Tao. Which was how we got to be the first hip-hop act, maybe the only one yet, to perform at the Clearwater Festival.”

Though Decora’s social activism is focused, he doesn’t “necessarily aim for particular targets.” He explains: “Artists are nothing more than vessels given a message to put out to the world; people will interpret a song in different ways, depending on what they need at the time.”

Decora’s first solo album, Bread and Oats, came out last spring; his track “Flowers” updates in rap Seeger’s classic folksong—“Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”—and pays homage to Seeger, who died in January 2014. The album has won kudos. “Decora has set a monumental task before himself … but he does it remarkably,” writes Nathan Leigh in Afropunk magazine. “Definitely check this one out.”

But music isn’t Decora’s only social change method. In 2008, he founded the Urban Farmers League to grow organic produce for Newburgh’s low-income residents. The organization has since become part of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s agricultural programing, and Decora has founded three Newburgh farms, prompting Hudson Valley magazine to include him on its “People to Watch” list in 2012.

Watch, hell. Decora wants us to dance. “I stumble on the humble / So the audience can get intimate / I want people to catch this / Like a cold on a business trip,” he writes on - UPSTATER MAGAZINE

"Hip-Hop Artist's Single Pays Tribute To Pete Seeger"

Beacon, New York resident and hip-hop artist Decora has his debut solo album coming out in March. One of the songs is a tribute to the late Pete Seeger. WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne spoke with Decora about why he chose the song. - NPR

"Listen Up"

“Love is inevitable,” Decora professed, as I attempted to get to the message behind his new single, “Flowers.” An offer of hope against the societal and environmental ills he lists in the track, Decora (a play off of “de corazon”, as his grandmother calls him) offers only a smidgeon of his library of thoughts in the song’s four minutes of flows.

“Flowers” is a sample of the artistry we can expect from his upcoming solo album, “Bread and Oats”, due to be released in the spring. It’s a good move for the Hudson Valley-based intellect, who branched out from the hip hop group, Readnex Poetry Squad. Decora’s lexical dexterity can match some of Flowers Graphicthe most celebrated mainstream hip hop artists out there. Yet, he emphasized his desire to stay independent, aware that conscious music puts him in the “marginalized” category of MCs. He boasted a sense of pride in going down the road less travelled with a hope to affect social change. “If my music gets a lot of radio play, I’m going to be a little suspicious […] But a part of me would be hopeful that maybe the energy of the world has (moved) in that direction.”

Citing KRS-One, Chuck D, and Yasiin Bey as influences, it seems unlikely that his latest track, “Flowers” would be a spawn off of the 1960’s protest anthem “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” by American activist and folk singer, Pete Seeger. Seeger acted as a mentor to Decora soon after meeting at the Clearwater Festival in 2011, where Decora performed with Readnex Poetry Squad. However, once you listen to “Flowers”, it won’t take long to realize that the motive behind Pete Seeger’s activism and protest songs seamlessly seep into Decora’s blunt and eye-opening flows.

I can go on and deconstruct the lyrics of “Flowers” to give an idea of the song’s overarching message, but it’s best to leave it to the lyrical architect to share the meaning behind his work. As Decora sums it up:

“No matter what you do, no matter what you like, no matter what you hate, love is inevitable. Just like flowers. It’s impossible to collect all of the seeds, to stop all of the flowers from growing. Even if you pick them up from the ground, you take them and throw them in the corner, they’re going to grow there. Some will grow in the darkness, some will seek for the light, and that’s analogous to the hope that we all have inside of us. Therefore, love is inevitable.”

– Christy Jeziorski - Inity Weekly

"Rapper Decora Brings the Noise to Beacon"

In 2010 I hung out a bit with Hudson Valley area hip-hop group ReadNex Poetry Squad to profile them for that year’s August issue, and I was deeply struck by the seriousness and outsized sense of purpose that the young quintet displayed. Visibly determined not only to get their own music heard by as many ears as possible, the erudite members of ReadNex (the pun-packed name is meant to stress the importance of literacy) are also tireless community activists, each them seemingly always involved in any number of charitable causes, youth-mentoring programs, and similar progressive projects. Since then, the band has been active on and off collectively, its members dedicating themselves to social efforts like the above as well as solo creative endeavors. The most visible has been Decora, one of the group’s formidable MCs and a prolific poet who will perform on June 20 at the Hobo Concert Series in Beacon.
One of Decora’s admitted heroes is Pete Seeger, the patriarch of socially progressive music. The rapper has performed at the Clearwater festival with Pete’s grandson, Tao Seeger, and his forthcoming single, which drops next month, is “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” By no means a straight cover of the Pete-penned folk standard, the track is instead a slammin’ slice of social commentary that riffs on the original’s imagery and questioning message.

To tide you over until that tune’s release, here’s Decora, raw and unaccompanied, laying down his “Ode to Hip-Hop”: - Chronogram

"Decora Radio"

For an artist with a distinctive and unorthodox vision, creating work that appeals to mainstream sensibilities can be a painful and frustrating, if not futile task. That’s why, after struggling to conform the public tastes, ReadNex Poetry Squad alum Decora finally said “F**k it” and decided to simply do him. And it’s a damn good thing he did—though new promo single RADIO (his solo Booth debut) isn’t about to get played on today’s Top 40 airwaves, its adventurous vibe is sure to catch the attention of listeners in the Booth. Didgeridoo drones and syncopated guitar riffs collide with a blistering breakbeat as the artist delivers rapid-fire, allusive bars. On his sung hook, he urges listeners to follow his example and “be who you wanna be,” rather than following the pack. This genre-bending banger is unattached to any larger project, but we’ll keep you posted on Decora’s plans as further details emerge. - DJ Booth

"Debut Album to Drop DECORA"

In August 2010, when I profiled Hudson Valley hip-hop crew ReadNex Poetry Squad for Chronogram, I found their intense focus and seriousness of purpose concerning social change greatly inspiring. The group has been inactive collectively these last few years, its members pursuing other artistic and community-oriented projects. Most visibly active has been Decora, one of ReadNex’s four MCs, who is readying his solo debut, Bread and Oats, for release next month.
Recently, Decora released a single from the album, “Flowers.” The tune pays tribute to his late hero and mentor Pete Seeger, referencing the folksinger’s classic “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” in the chorus as the verses offer rapid-fire commentary on our current sociological and environmental situations. “[The track] comes from the perspective of a younger generation in hopes of reaching all generations and making the world a better place,” explains Decora. “Which is something Pete mastered so well.” - Chronogram Magazine

"Newly-released promo single Flowers,"

Decora drew some of his most powerful musical inspiration from a figure that, on the surface, is about as far removed from the world of hip-hop as you could imagine: Pete Seeger, the political activist and folk legend who penned classics like Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Newly-released promo single Flowers, however, is as close to the late singer’s spirit as it is distant from his sound. Over his and Nico Marchese‘s slow-burning electronic grooves, Decora outlines his spiritually-informed approach to politics, and expresses nostalgia for a simpler and more harmonious time. Flowers isn’t attached to a larger project, but fans can keep it locked for more fresh song releases from the Debefore Records signee. - DJ Booth

"People to Watch 2012: Decora Sandiford, Orange County, NY, Social Activist at ReadNex Poetry Squad"

Decora Sandiford started writing when he was 13. Born in Texas as Lloyd Sandiford (his nickname Decora was bestowed on him by his grandmother; it’s a variant on the Puerto Rican phrase de corazon, “of the heart”), his family moved frequently, mostly around violent neighborhoods in New York City; because of this, he made few friends, which left him isolated and angry. His mostly violent poems reflected his environment and he says the words just poured of out him — during class, on the train, anywhere. In school he would listen to the teachers and write rhymes about what they were saying. “I wouldn’t have any notes,” he remembers, “but I’d have a dope poem.”
Today, Decora uses his words to affect social change. As a member of a socially conscious hip hop group, he travels around the country trying to empower disadvantaged youth and other community members.
It was during his first year at Orange County Community College that Decora met fellow emcees Jarabe del Sol, Latin Translator, Free Flowin, and DJ H20. Nine years later, the five — now known as ReadNex Poetry Squad — consider themselves family. They’ve released two albums,Social Issue (2008) and The Day Before Sound (2010), have toured internationally, and championed social and political causes both collectively and as individuals. One of their most notable achievements, “Hip Hop and Poetry Saved My Life,” is a youth workshop aimed (says Decora) at teaching youth “how to used their multiple intelligences,” such as writing, painting, and dance. Introduced in community centers in 2008, the program was so well-received it was picked up by the departments of education in New York State and Washington D.C. It’s now been taught at 87 schools across the country, as well as abroad.
Also in 2008, Decora cofounded the Urban Farmer’s League, a youth-led organization that has several goals — one of which is growing organic produce in urban gardens for distribution to Newburgh’s low-income residents. When he was 14, Decora’s family moved to Puerto Rico to live with his grandmother. It was while helping her in the backyard garden that the seeds for his subsequent agricultural activism were planted. “If you’ve ever sat down to shell gandules for a family of five for dinner, you know you’re about to be sitting there for three, four hours,” he laughs. “You know you’re really going to appreciate that meal.”
He initiated the program in the classroom, introducing farming to the image-obsessed youth by highlighting parallels between the worlds of food production and hip hop (commercial versus organic). “There was this article about a producer who can make a beat in 10 seconds. I wonder what John Lennon would think about that, or Michael Jackson, or Stevie Wonder. Yeah, it’s a beat, but does it have soul?” By 2010, the kids had begun La Vida Garden, a totally organic, youth-directed project on Chambers Street. While he toured, Urban Farmer’s League cofounder Kim Bersin ran La Vida, helping the youth host events like movie nights and open mics.
The Urban Farmer’s League and other champions of community agriculture recently joined forces to form Newburgh Farm and Food (NFF), which so far includes La Vida, Downing Park, and the new Armory garden. They hope to see more gardens built this year, and to convince popular waterfront restaurants to source locally. “What better place to stay local than the Hudson Valley,” says Decora, himself a dedicated locavore. “Local is the true essence of the movements going on across the world. It’s about the people.”
Last year, the ReadNex Poetry Squad spent a total of eight months on the road. In 2012, Decora says they’re happy to just ride the wave they’re on, which is a good thing — he and longtime partner Jennifer Loeb welcomed a son, Samson, in October. He says he is ready to do a solo album — “something Fela Kuti meets hip hop meets Nina Simone” — and is embracing the new level of intensity his son has brought to his work. “I write out of love now. Sometimes the emotion can be angry, but it’s all out of love.”
Although many people ask if he’ll get a “real” job now that he has a family, Decora has no intention of changing paths. “You can bog yourself down trying to take on the whole world at once,” he says. Instead, he sees self-awareness as the real path to revolution. “It’s not self-righteousness. Working on yourself is the biggest form of activism.” He references the lyrics from Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”: “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change. - Hudson Valley Magazine

"Hip-Hop Meets Seeger: Generational Gap Seizure is Music Genius"

"Newburgh reminds me of my childhood. It has a lot of potential at a discount and with less resources." These are the heartfelt lines that you will catch slipping out when you're hanging with Decora at his Space Create work collaborative in downtown Newburgh. A military kid, he spent time in Texas and Brooklyn before landing in the Hudson Valley. His poetry squad ReadNex made a splash in the area bringing an urban element to the stage using powerful spoken word to inspire audiences. Decora's music is much the same. Pete Seeger was a mentor of his. The first music video, Flowers, is a direct pull from Seeger's hit. See the press release and stream the video right here!


Hip Hop artist Decora, formerly of the ReadNex Poetry Squad, has released a new single from his yet to be released solo debut album – and it’s a tribute to the late Pete Seeger. “Flowers” maintains in spoken word the classic chorus “Where have the flowers gone” – in recent performances the crowd echoes this back – but the verses are straight Hip Hop. Touching on current social and environmental ills – notably hydrofracking – that plague our society almost 60 years after Seeger wrote the original lyrics, Decora also infuses a hopeful tone into his expertly written lyrics. His version “comes from the perspective of a younger generation in hopes of reaching all generations and making the world a better place, which is something Pete mastered so well,“ Decora explains.

Decora considers Seeger a mentor, having spent time with him late in his life collaborating on musical and community projects. The song has already been performed several times at the 2014 Clearwater Festival as well as at Decora’s first live show in Beacon, June 2014. - Happy Hudson Valley

"Decora Meets Up with Kyle Mosher in Unique Collaboration"

New York hip-hop and rap artist Decora met up with full-time visual artist Kyle Mosher as part of the Radeberger “Tastemaker Collective” project. The two met up for an intensive creative session at Mosher’s studio in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mosher, whose work centers on portrait collages from vintage paper and acrylic paints, created a unique portrait of Decora as the rap artist spat out rhymes from his track, “Something,” from his upcoming debut album, Bread and Oats.

Decora hails from the Hudson Valley, New York, and is a member of the five-strong Tastemaker Collective. The Collective sees Radeberger fund, through grants and other support, the projects of five individuals in and around the New York area. - High Snobiety


Corey Glover has officially reached the “can do whatever he bloody well pleases” part of his career. So when he pops up on two tracks on indie rapper and producer Decora's latest record Bread and Oats, its fitting that neither should be the most poppy or even accessible. Instead these high profile guest contributions highlight Decora's commitment to skirting expectations and pushing boundaries. It's that refusal to play by the rules that makes Bread and Oats such a compelling record.

“Something” is the standout cut on the record—notably devoid of guest spots—the minimal breakbeat production looks simultaneously backwards and forwards, nodding to Golden Age production, while Decora name checks social activists. While “Touch the Sky” uses a hook courtesy of Ruby Stinson for the most radio-single worthy cut. “Bionic Bounce” shines, marrying a club-bound beat to Decora's most socially conscious lyrics. “They got the money / but the power's in the people.”

By the time “Nah Mean” hits, Decora's experimental streak begins to show. Psychedelic beats skitter and dissolve in stereo. Then we come to Corey Glover's mind-expanding contributions. “Nantucket” is a break-up track with Glover's “I met this girl from Nantucket / She will electrify your mind” phasing in and out over the bird calls and flutes. “Beautiful Bitch” is a 7 minute epic, with Corey Glover intoning “why you such a beautiful bitch” over a spaced instrumental reminiscent of Mozart by way of Nine Inch Nails. By the end of 7 minutes, the words have lost all literal meaning, and become this incredible statement on loneliness in Glover's inimitable delivery.

The record heads back into known space with the chilled out “Road Trip,” and the activist hip-hop of “Flowers.” The classic production on “Flowers” gets a lot of mileage out of some glitch synths. “equal rights for one another is what I'm manifesting / but I still have the same questions / Where have the flowers gone?” When Decora missteps on the post-punk “Long Way Home,” it's still a compelling left-turn. Decora's sonic adventurousness and lyrical depth buy a lot of good will to follow him down his deepest rabbit holes. He ends the record with the ironically triumphant “Defeat.” Decora has set a monumental task before himself: to tie together a hundred disparate influences and ideas into one cohesive whole, but he does it remarkably on Bread and Oats. Definitely check this one out.


Bread and Oats (2015)
1. Defeat
2. Touch the Sky
3. Something
4. Bionic Bounce
5. Nah Mean
6. Mad Random
7. Nantucket (feat. Corey Glover)
8. Beautiful Bitch (feat. Corey Glover)
9. Road Trip
10. Lapiz
11. Flowers
12. Long Way Home



Decora is a hip hop artist, DJ, and performance poet based in New York’s Hudson Valley. He is best known for his unique brand of composition, which unites a folk music ethos with hip hop for social change. Since his debut album “Bread and Oats” in 2015, Decora has shared bills and stage with T.I, DJ Khalid, Fat Joe, Meek Mill, Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz, Kaytranada, Saul Williams and Run DMC to name a few. 2016 proved to be a successful year as Decora curated large productions intertwining performance and visual arts centered around his music. After performing across the U.S. and Canada, headlining a festival in the Pacific Northwest, interviewing for MTV and NPR, Decora received rave reviews by the influential media publications such as Highsnobiety, Chronogram, Upstater and AfroPunk. Decora completed 100 concerts in his  2017 world tour is already, headlining 4 festivals and selling out Lincoln Center with his second album entitled, “Beyond Belief”. 

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