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Howard Professor Juggles Economics With Love Of Literature And Hip-Hop

Howard Professor Juggles Economics With Love Of Literature And Hip-Hop

By: Robbie Fienberg
September 27, 2013
Robbie Feinberg

On most school days, you can find Gilbert Perkins teaching business and economics to students at Howard University. Dressed in a beige suit, Perkins seems like a typical business teacher, but if you talk with him one-on-one, you’ll find a whole new side.

“My name’s Gilbert Newman Perkins. That’s my birth name,” Perkins says. “Sage Salvo is sort of the artist moniker and stage name that I’ve been using for about 10 years now as a performance artist. And that’s doing things like at an open mic, recording songs, going around the city to different programs. That’s the name I’ve used for around a decade now.”

That transformation, from Gilbert Perkins to Sage Salvo, from business professor to rap performer, is a long, complicated story. And it begins before Perkins even entered college, let alone started teaching. It started when Perkins turned 13, and he heard a particular song: “I Gave You Power” by Nas. Perkins says the lyrics in the song were like nothing he’d ever heard before, and when he heard them, something changed in his brain.

“He takes the role of a gun,” Perkins says. “So he places himself so that he is an actual gun and he tells the story of the gun being used from a human perspective. In classical literature, we call that anthropomorphism. He changed his state and gave us a narrative from the position of this inanimate object, this gun. It was completely brilliant. It completely boggled my mind!”


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