The Poet Whose Lyrics Are 2Die4

By: Courtney L. Smith

November 10, 1979 is the noted day, which marks the beginning of Roshanda Johnson’s
existence. Her involvement with poetry stems from an introduction to Nikki Giovanni’s “Cotton Candy
on a Rainy Day” by her mother, and she has been feeding her insatiable love for the written and spoken
word since that time. She is a graduate of The University of Houston, earning her the distinction of
Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies for 2002. She has been slamming and
performing poetry throughout the country and written as well as starred in several local plays. She is
known for her leading role as Vanessa in the stage play Millicent Bradford: Adoption Story. Her poetry
appears in Riversongs, American Society: What Poets See, Houston Poetry Fest’s 2012 Anthology, Third
Wednesday, Sierra Nevada, Tiger’s Eye, and several other publications. Johnson has received a
nomination for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She is also known for authoring the chapbook Unpredicted
Prophecy and My Name Be. She has also written and co-produced her first, spoken-word album entitled
From Genesis to I. She is currently working on her first, complete collection of poetry as well as her
sophomore, spoken-word album. Johnson resides in the northeast side of Houston, Texas. She has
been igniting the stages with the name 2Die4 since Scarlet (performing poet) bestowed the pseudonym
upon her by describing Johnson’s poetry as such. She has been in countless features throughout the
Houston metropolitan area for over sixteen years. Johnson makes it no secret poetry has engulfed her
childhood, adolescence, and her adulthood: “I have been performing since I was 19.”
Johnson suggests poetry embraces her in an enjoyably enslaving and deterministic way
regarding her motivation for performing. She also feels it allows her to articulate matters other people
are incapable of expressing for themselves. Producing poetry is not simply a self-fulfilling hobby for
Johnson, but it entails the mandatory responsibility of addressing the masses for conveying the diverse
experiences of people throughout the area. Johnson also mentions poetry is certainly a unique medium
from any other art. The desire to utilize the slim margin of participating in poetic events despite being a
full-time teacher and attending graduate school provides the drive to still actively participate in poetic
events. She views her talent as a gift, which is possessed with great accountability: “Poetry kind of gives
me no choice but to write it and perform it. I also like to tell people’s stories, and poetry is a platform for
speaking the words that others cannot say for themselves.”
Johnson continues to illuminate the literary and entertainment industries with numerous
acknowledgements. Different states throughout the country receive the opportunity to sample
numerous works produced by the stroke of Johnson’s pen. Regions throughout different parts of the
world know about Johnson’s works. Receiving a nomination for well-known literary prizes further
solidifies her influence upon the literary world. She receives accolades from various publishers,
including Reader’s Digest: “I have won several awards, been published in 21 anthologies both national
and international, and [been] nominated for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry. I am the author of the
chapbooks Unpredicted Prophecy and My Name Be and wrote and co-produced my first spoken-word
album entitled From Genesis to I.”
Johnson promises to saturate the future with multiple works. She is currently establishing the
foundation for her second, poetic recording to succeed From Genesis to I. She continues to perform on

large-scale productions from spoken-word performances to theatrical presentations. Her pen is not
foreign to printed materials for distribution. Plans for inundating the globe with poems, dramatic
exhibitions, and written works sparkle in Johnson’s irises, as she gazes into the beginning year with
promises of abundance in literature. “I am currently working on my first complete collection of poetry
as well as my sophomore, spoken-word album.
Johnson conveys the desire for people to reflect upon her as a morally sound individual with a
charitable mentality towards the public. From Genesis to I contains tracks reflecting serious, social
issues that concern her. Some of those matters address sexual assault upon young girls and drug
dealers. She attempts to increase awareness of cultural problems and provide spiritual enlightenment
from her beliefs as a Christian. She encourages people to participate with her family’s altruistic
activities, such as volunteering to provide and distribute clothes and food to the homeless during the
Christmas holidays. She will also participate in events such as Cover the Night with other concerned
citizens to raise awareness of homelessness and provide badly needed blankets for vagrants: “I want
people to remember [me] as a woman of God who loved people. I want to be remembered as words
becoming flesh.
Johnson makes obtaining her products readily available for potential customers by simply
allowing people to personally approach her for them. She frequently erects tables with merchandise for
purchase in multifarious locations, especially as a featured artist at multitudinous venues. Johnson
usually has products readily available for purchase upon her whenever she travels to different
destinations and locations. She is taking measures to increase access to merchandise across multiple
mediums. She is commonly seen circulating discs and energetically interacting with crowds. “They can
get my chapbook and first CD from me. Lol. In the future I’ll be more technologically accessible.”
Johnson credits her maternal parent with being a primary influence in her life at an early age.
She does not simply yield one or two sources that affected her desire to become involved in poetry. She
implies the entire scope of people involved in the arts from unnumbered locations provide artistic
stimulation for creative endeavors: Johnson suggests numerous sources of inspiration come from
various people and places. “I’d have to say I have had so many influences over time. I started writing
songs when I was six years old. My mom introduced me to Nikki Giovanni, and I started writing poetry
in middle school. I have been writing ever since. Se7en’s stage at Harlon’s BBQ was my first spoken
word platform, and since then, I have been inspired by so many spoken word artists around the world.
My favorite artist in Houston being Speak.”
Johnson is a very avid reader and draws inspiration and creativity from unlimited sources. She
particularly enjoys adolescent literature such as The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling and The Hunger
Games Series by Suzanne Collins. She also buries her face in older books with strong, philosophical
overtones such as Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Her influence upon children as a teacher yields her
insight to perceive things from their perspectives. Johnson usually reads great variations of poetry,
literature, and modern stories, which undoubtedly diversifies the scope of her creativity, methods, and
style of executing authentic, lyrically imaginative expressions to astound audiences with subjects varying
from hardships, womanhood, love, and religious homages.
Performing poets possess the challenge of maintaining the public’s interest in their work and
shows. Often, countless hours are spent advertising, promoting personal performances, and barely
possessing the time to create poetry from a narrow of margin of time between jobs. This is a common

situation and experience for poets, and Johnson is no exception to sitting in front of a computer for
hours to promote events featuring her or supporting others. Having the blue and white bands of
Facebook embedded upon one’s neurons upon to maintain general knowledge of their activities is part
of a daily task. Johnson benefits from her following undertaking the task of assisting her with some
degree of promotion, but she does not deny the amount of effort required to maintain people’s
attention: “My greatest challenge has been promoting and supporting myself with the same tenacity
that others support me. I look at myself and say, ‘Ahh. It’s a gift. I do what I do because God says so.’”
While my fans and family are like, “Go! Go! Go!” I have to stop being so nonchalant about my gifts.”

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