Based on Simmons's HBO series, the show features nine young poets reciting their works on subjects ranging from politics to race relations to Krispy Kreme donuts. It opened on November 14 and will have played 16 previews and 198 regular performances as of its closing. A national tour is being planned, and a West End production is said to be in the talking stages.
In his review of Def Poetry Jam for TheaterMania, Philip Hopkins wrote: "The show is like a hyper-real version of A Chorus Line fueled by the caffeine of a thousand cups of coffee -- black, latte, and everything in between. It proves that Slam Poetry could be for a younger generation what hip-hop used to be: both personal and political, unconcerned with commercialism and fame. Those who thought that Russell Simmons wanted to take the Great White Way and paint it black will learn that he really wants to paint it every color in the spectrum. "