Friday, July 17, 2009
Lets open up Today's installment with a simple word. Ambivalence. Don't know what that word means? Well, our problem stems a might bit deeper than the matters at hand now, doesn't it? The biggest "news" of late, has been the timely passing of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. I say timely because, God is sufficient, and disposer of all affairs. When it's time to go, it's time to go. There is no hold up, no wait, there is no "well, I was kinda in the middle of something". When your number is up, that's it. So Mike, thank you for the talent you've shared with us, and also, thank you for spawning the catalyst for this here blog topic!
Entertainment. To be entertained, distracted, to indulge in something. What do we use entertainment for? We use it for a myriad of reasons; we use it to make us laugh, make us cry, make us forget, we use it to fill up time in an empty schedule, we use it to distract us from reality. To distract us from reality. Above all else, does that not hold the most truth to it? Does that not encompass all of the given definitions and then some? I'll be the first to admit, reality is a motha ... the saying "its real in the field" didn't just pop up because it rhymes, entertainment takes us away from what ever it may be that we're dealing with in our lives and allows us to immerse ourselves into a realm of fantasy. If not fantasy, it provides an outlet of escapism that we can harness to alleviate a number of ailments. Do we allow it to control us? Do we give entertainment too much of our attention? I ultimately pose the question, do we as African Americans, a people who use entertainment like air, allow it to hinder and impair on very basic judgment and obstruct evaluation of moral fibre?
African Americans love to be entertained. Do we ever. No one can refute that. Don't even try. I'll do the knowledge on that, in case you aren't quite yet in the know. As slaves. We we stripped away from our roots. Literally cut off from all ties to what made us African. The only thing we had left was oral translation, spirit and soul. I tell you what. Lemme lock you up some place in Georgia and make you pick cotton, endure torture beyond belief and eat the foulest of mother nature's creations. Let's see what you do to take your mind off of all that. We did what the slave owners couldn't fathom. Called upon our spirit for help. Negro spirituals, song, dance, that became our weapon in a seemingly limitless arsenal. That's what got us through the deepest pain. That stayed with us, just like high blood pressure from all that pork. That's my synopsis.
I'm going to use two main focus points, and I will not allow my personal beliefs and ideologies to make their presence known ... that heavily.
First. Hip Hop. See, we as members and fans of the Hip Hop culture allow a lot of bullshit to pass. All to often excuses are made for brothers who generate income off of the production and consumption of social pollutants. We take it all in. We do all but except it, and then give mans passes like "yo, he's just expressing himself", or "yo, he's just dictating his point of view for his struggle and those a like". Yeh, I've heard all that before, and to be honest, it's quite a weak excuse. That's like saying Hitler gets a pass for the Holocaust because some one pissed in his Cheerios, and he felt the only way to rectify his unfortunate breakfast dining experience was to erradicate some Jews. I don't wanna hear it. People, point blank, period, we've become accustom to the bullshit! We've become all to complacent with mindless drivel and accepting mediocrity. Think about it. If a brother comes on the radio with a record like "I'm Black", the Styles P song, it doesn't get spun, you probably didn't care to hear it when it was spun. It's automatically ruled as "that bullshit". You say, "man I can't dance to this shit, I can't hear this at the club!" But when the Ying Yang Twins dropped "The Whisper Song" you were all over it. It's because "I'm black, even though my skin's kinda light/ that just means my ancestors was raped by some body white/" makes you deal with actual reality. Whereas "Wait till you see my dick" doesn't. Well, not really any thing relevant at least. There is a reason Gucci Mane and Young Jeezey are in current rotation, and Mos Def, Talib Kweli, artists of that caliber are pushed to the back burner. Kids now days are especially susceptible to this because of the emphasis on monteray gain. I remember building with brother Jasiri X about his after school programme he runs for children in Pittsburgh. He uses Hip Hop as his education method. He brought up OJ Da Juiceman in his discussion, and explained to me, the kids loved him because "he gets paid". They dont really overstand he what he represents, and if they do, they turn a blind eye to it because of what he "has". How often has that happened through out the course of Hip Hop? If Nas was convicted of leading a child porn right tomorrow, I bet you all the tea in China I break every Nas album I own and curse him to the grave. I don't care that he was one of the best lyricists ever! He was soliciting kiddy porn! The scale doesn't balance out people!!!
Second. Mike Jackson. "Damn, damn, damn, Jaxx. You really gonna go in on old Mike? Pause." Nope. I'ma just keep it 100.
My man James "Cyfe" Moore posted a note on facebook the other day, concerning Mike's death, his funeral and all the subsequent fuss. He really made some poignant points. Essentially he required that we hit the "nigga please" button and stop saying Michael was in the same echelon as Malcolm X and Dr. King. I agree whole heartedly. Was I a fan, of course? Did I succumb to the rumours? Most Definitely. Do I have my own opinions, of course. One thing y'all gotta overstand is that, Mike died Muslim. So I'm not gonna sit here and bash no Muslim. Not happening. However, I will say this. Mikes passing DID NOT keep me from my day to day actions at all. I purposely missed his funeral for a few reasons. One, I buried my best friend, I don't wanna see that shit again. Two, no ones funeral needs to be that public in the first place. Three, I don't want that funeral turned production to some how alter my opinions, what ever they maybe, to far past hypocritical levels. Was Mike iconic? Certainly. Did he impact millions? Absolutely. But I don't remember Mike ever really pushing religion, philosophy or knowledge to the level of real world leaders and brothers who fought died for the struggle and the message. Y'all making Mike out to be prophet. Fall back with all that nonsense!!!!
This illustrates my point. Our culture, us as a people put far too much weight on irrelevant shit. We would rather be entertained then deal with the truth at hand. That's God's curse on our people for our actions. My Imam has told me that time and time again (yes, he is black), that our people have been cursed for our ignorance, and that is it. Do I really need to cite examples? The proof is in the pudding. I pose this final inquiry. Have we let the entertainment business dictate our lives beyond repair? Or is this something that can be overcome, like the countless social and physical obstacles we've encountered as a people? We gotta come to terms with our own reality and consciousness, we gotta acknowledge the tangible occurrences present in our immediate vicinity. That's all we have to do to begin to ween ourselves away from the entertainment, and lean ourselves towards the edutainment. Learning can be fun ... you just
read this blog, didn't you? :)
I used "Ambivalence", above. I used that because, I rap. I am an entertainer. Though I'm not the status quo. I don't shuck and jive, finger pop, coon out and fool myself. I take a stance and use my gift, my abilities to educate and shed light. I do all that, but I still have a good time. I make sure those who watch my show, and listen to my music, those who read my blog, genuinely enjoy my work. I'm not bashing entertainment, I'm just asking where your head is at. You, the reader! Where is your head right now? Do you spend too much time away from reality? I do from time to time. But I overstand where I am in life. Do you?
The Ayatollah has spoken
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Shadow Lounge, East Liberty, Pittsburgh, Pa. Wu-Tang affiliate Bronze Nazareth was scheduled to preform on July 10th, 2009. The show's opening acts? Verbal, who brought A.P.E.X, Divine Seven, whom I accompanied on stage (we shut the spot down), EMS, Living Proofe, and Idasa Tariq. The doors opened at around 8:45-9p (at least they were open when I arrived at that time lol) and the show was to go on at 10pm. See thesis statement. No Hip Hop shows start on time. It just doesn't make sense for them to. That's the natural order of things, I get that. So every one (not that many people, 35-40 tops) are waiting around, building, talking, what have you until the show starts. It's now around 10:15, no sign of the headliner. People are getting antsy but not too much. A not so subtle ruckus is the now standard decibel level raised with the influx of people walking down Baum Blvd. Inside DJ Shade Cobain is keeping the people happy with an amazing selection of local and under ground music. A rough announcement is made through word of mouth outside that the show will be starting at 11p, go nigga, I mean go figure.
Around 11:20 or so, the first act takes the stage. To my surprise the small crowd is actually quite lively and very receptive. Cheers, hollers, claps and whistles ensue while Verbal and Aris of A.P.E.X take the stage. Out side of the sound man being a bloody putz, the show moved on pretty smoothly. by around 11:45 close to 12, no sign of Bronze Nazareth. It was then told to every one that, Bronze was no longer showing up. This went from a show with opening acts, to a regular local Hip Hop show. Fine, that's peace, every one else seemed to be pretty ok with that. I mean, all the signs pretty much lead to it being another local Hip Hop show anyway. So around 12:45, some dudes just start setting up on stage. At this point, there are maybe 9 people inside of the Shadow Lounge. In comes Bronze's small posse and opening act. What a waste of time that was. Bronze takes the stage around 1:45. He rocks until I have no idea when. He was though, very displeased no one stayed around to watch him rock. I get home at 4 am, thats all I know. I was outside building with my people, and some females.
Lemme state my piece, now that the facts have been established.
Bronze Nazareth is a Wu-Tang affiliate who came out around the time it was, well, wack to be associated with the Wu. Period point blank. He made some alright records back in the mid to late 90s and just kinda faded into obscurity with a whole bunch of other un important niggas who suffered from delusions of grandeur. Hey, it happens. Here's the break down. I think maybe 3 people were there to actually see Bronze Nazareth rock, coincidentally those 3 people were the only ones who knew who he was. Every on else was there to see the opening acts. That's gotta sting. This nigga is supposed to be there at 10, doesn't go on until 2am, and about 80% of his set, ROCKS OVER OTHER PEOPLES BEATS!!!!!! WTF?!?!!? Like dude, who do you think you are?!?! Are you really that arrogant, that self centred to think that a place with a confused Hip Hop scene is going to wait for YOU? YOU? Really? You got some bloody nerve. Not only was that unprofessional, that was highly disrespectful to what ever fans you may or may not have had at the show, the promoter and owner of the venue, and the city of Pittsburgh. You aren't even part of the original 9 members of the Wu-Tang Clan!!! Where do you get off on that fuckry? You should be ashamed of yourself. I never considered my self a fan, but I never said I wasn't either. But I'll never check anything you do again, you fucking clown.
See, I came on as a special guest. I did 24 bars in Divine Seven's set, and had the crowd nuts! You wanna see a real show? Come check me preform with Tanya Morgan next Thursday, July 16th at the Shadow Lounge. I promise it will be a real event.
Phat shout to all the performers of Friday's show!
The Ayatollah has spoken
Friday, July 10, 2009
Here's the break down.
About a month or so a go, Mysterious had phoned me and informed me some one made a diss record aimed at me, but not exclusively about me. I asked who the guy was, he said he never heard of him. People, it's to the point now that, if some one hasn't heard of you on a broad scale on the scene here in Pittsburgh, you've lost before you've come up out of the blocks. Anyway. I asked a few people if they heard the record, and every one said it was wack, it was lame, this that and the third, but he said somethings about me, that he didn't say about any one else in the song (yes he dissed other people).
One of the lines that caught my attention through word of mouth was that, he'd spit on my hand or something of that nature. I never really cared to listen to the diss because, I had other things on my plate.
It took a toll on me though, just how cowardly this was executed. I've never heard of dude, he wants to make a diss record because he seen me putting in work, and reaping the benefits. Cool, I get that, success taking a shot at you. But you talk about spitting on me, and have your boys promote this record like it's a hot single, THEN when some one actually says something like, oh Jaxx is gonna be pissed or what ever it was they said to you, you pull the record down like a hoe, and just talk shit. That's cowardice, people.
So I was going back and forth about making a record, then I downloaded 50 Cent's The War Angel LP two weeks ago. That put the battery in my back, so to speak to go ahead and drop a record. He went back to his old style, the raw mixtape 50, with songs aimed at folks, just with out names attached. Thats what gave me the idea...
I told my man, Chim Beats to pull through on a raw gritty mid 90s type song that I could go in on, but still make a dope record off of, not just 500 bars with no hook or anything. He pulled through in the clutch!
I'm not saying no names, I'm not making a diss record, but I am. I wanted to do what these morons couldn't do. I say morons because my name was put in a song by an even more irrelevent guy months before this. If you go back and read the blogs, you can find out who he is, he gets no more free promo from me. So I make "Wha Gwan".
Alot of you have no idea what "Wha Gwan" means, apparently? So I decided, why not make the record title, "Wha Gwan". What I set out to do, was just make a strong record that Hip Hop heads would like. Something aggressive, something old school, something that makes you respect the spirit of competition! See, I will battle, but only if it's worth my time. I'm not name dropping and building your career based off wack records. You wanna enter into that realm, step your pen game up, because mine is at a level you can't even cheat to reach. You diss me and can't get a buzz? Pathetic.
That's the deal, download the record here!
The Ayatollah has spoken
The Ayatollah: Real Deal, my man, it’s been long over due, wha gwan?
Real Deal: Nothing much my man. Seeming to finally reap a little bit of the reward from ball busting.
Seen, I hear that. How has the mini tour you’ve been on treating you? Liking the different scenes?
Shit has been amazing man. I go out there and people recognize me and know lines of mine and big up me. Then I come back here and the Burgh is so appreciative to have an emcee that represents what their city is about, hard working, blue collar, hard nosed shit, ya know? Other cities are so diverse it’s wild, very dope though.
Trevor Weller/Real Deal. You’re a single father, a teacher, an MC, starving artist. Which facet takes precedence?
Father first, my man is my life. You can say my rhymes suck and I can’t teach but question me as a father and I will tombstone you threw concrete. Secondly I think a starving artist because I love music so much….not just hip hop MUSIC! Teaching is my plan B, I enjoy it and it pays o.k f or the time being but we all know you have a small window to break through in hip hop ya know?
Since you’re an educator, answer me this. How important is it to you to hear MCs come intelligent on and off the mic?
I cannot stress what a great question this is. I often receive test papers that look like people were texting their friends about going to the club. I know we all want to break in music but if you think people like Jay- Z, Nas, and even 50 are only as smart as they lead on record than you have another thing coming. These young people have no idea how just a salutation or a handshake can change the course of their life. Save the rapping for tracks, any other time speak as an informed intelligent human being.
Would you want your son’s friends to look up to you as a roll model, or other young fans? In the broad spectrum, are rappers good role models?
I would want my son or son's friends to look up to me for reasons other than rap. Not that my rap doesn’t produce anything positive but as I said I’m a man and father first. I display a lot of upstanding qualities in my music but admittedly I have material all be it that I would like not to be taken literal.
We are not good role models in my opinion. We too often glorify the negative aspects of what we do and shed little light on the positive. We too often make tracks about nothing and sound redundant when we could be reaching out and helping someone with our music. We too often view the almighty dollar over all else. And notice I say “We” because I have a paddle in the boat with you.
Let’s talk music. It’s 2009, every one knows white boys can rap now, but it still kind of has a novelty attached to it, how do you feel about being a Caucasian MC now days?
I think it lost pretty much all of it’s shock value ya know? Hip hop has been transforming into a melting pot and that is awesome. I just wish the generic comparisons would stop. I am not slim shady and never will be. I realize it is a compliment but it loses it’s value when you tell a million other emcees the same thing.
Looking around though, it seems you guys took over the battle thing, much like the Asian persuasion took over B-boying. It kinda became cliché to battle, you get me? Scribble Jam is completely white washed, Grind Time damn near is too, what’s your take on that?
Scribble Jam, unfortunately is no longer with us R.I.P. I agree with you in some ways but others not as much. Battle rapping has just evolved. Grindtime put forth the ideal format to cut out filler and give emcees a chance to really display what they can do lyrically. Admittedly some still suck but I think since the league is run by battle emcees they can figure it out to make it not become oversaturated, ya know? Scribble was dope because it brought people back to the good ol days. People came form across the country to network and battle. As far as our scene goes, I wish we had one. I wish people didn’t act like such premadonnas and get the fuck out and battle. Big ups for you holding that battle. We need more shit like that. It seems our city has too many emcees that are too cool to battle, shit is unfortunate because it only makes you better.
Are you worried about the Battle Rap Stigma? Not being able to make songs, being stuck in the same place pretty much forever? Some people are already saying that you’re a one trick pony. Trevor Weller says?
That theory is so wild to me because there are so many musicians in the battle circuit that make phenomenal music. I will always be a musician first. Battling for me has just been a great avenue to expand and market and network. I honestly think people just center that idea around Jin and Cannibus. Eminem was a battler and I think he did well right?
Well let's see ... Charles Hamilton got punched, Asher Roth makes white folks cringe, Eminem is so far left he’s almost irrelevant, and Jay Z is eliminating his credibility with every new song. What’s the lamest shit out right now to you?
Anything with Autotune lol…But I just think mainstream in general is horrific! We are just a year or so away where the radio will play a song on called “Suck a dick” and hint that the beat is catchy and you can dance to it and it has a solid chorus... Maybe they will edit dick and put “Prick” lol.
Hip Hop is indeed in an odd place right now. Rappers singing, singers rapping. Masculinity has taken a back seat for the first time ever in rap. Where do you see things going by the end of the year?
To be honest man, I don’t care what you wear as long as you don’t use it to draw attention to yourself. When you do that it becomes a fashion display. I do admit it is odd that super gangsters are wearing muscle shirts lol but eh, whatever floats your boat. By the end of this year I see a continuing decline in the importance of looking hard which in my opinion is a good thing.
Zoom the microscope in. Pittsburgh, PA. Home for you and I. As one of the most respected names on the scene, what do you feel is missing from your game plan? Who is your immediate competition? What is your advice for the legions of Caucasian MCs who want your spot?
I think I am missing a few things. Production being one of the first that comes to mind, time being the second, and dependable people being the third. I do everything myself, and I can dig that, but it’d be nice if once in a while someone threw you a bone ya feel. And believe me I have some cats that definitely hooked me up, but in the grand sceme of things I could use an occasional lift.
I honestly don’t feel I have competition because I am a different breed of emcee, ya know? Not to sound cocky or arrogant but, Wiz does his thing, Boaz does his, S.Money does his, I don’t make music the way they do and I’m happy for whatever success they achieve for our city. I think my sound is unique enough where I don’t really have an obvious competition. Here is my advice to those caucasion emcees, BE YOUR FUCKING SELF!!!! Stop trying to impress other people. If you were raised in Mt. Lebanon don’t act like you grew up in Homewood. Just do a style that is most comfortable to you, set your own trend. I think black people are not impressed at how well you can imitate their style without enduring their hardships….Im pissed now Jaxx lol.
Wusai, Wusai. Take a breather champ. Lets talk more about Pittsburgh. Rhyme Cal has provided an otherwise absent platform for MCs in Pittsburgh. If you could name one element missing from our scene, where would you toss the dart?
I’d have to say freestyle ability. No one freestyles it seems. Cyphers have become platforms for written verses. People release “freestyles” on their miztapes and have fucking adlibs!! We need this back. You take the pen out of a lot of our younger emcees hands and they are up the creek, ya feel me?
What’s on the plate for the Real Deal in 2009?
Definitely some more battles but I am going to ease off the gas a little bit for that. I want to direct a lot of attention to music and capitalize off any buzz I might have generated. Raising the Jr. and bigging up the 412.
Friday, July 3, 2009
After a month or so hiatus, the critically acclaimed series is back! This week, I'll be talking about trend hoppers, Jay Z's new singled "D.O.A" and discussing what I feel will bring the proper perspective in Hip Hop Back...
Guess whose bizzack? Back on the net with those Blogs … Ayatollah Jaxx been gone too long …
I need an encore, y’all should welcome me back! Wanna blog till you fall; I can help you with that!
Don’t call it a come back, I been here for years! Typing my jeers, keeping other bloggers in fear!!!!
Alright, enough with the renditions. I’m back baby!! BPW is back in full effect. It’s been a minute, but we’re back in business. I don’t wanna waste any time, I wanna get things underway.
Following trends is nothing new to Hip Hop. We set, establish, cast away and follow new trends damn near weekly. Hip Hop is what people look to to know what’s cool, what’s trendy, what’s hip. That’s almost part of our job description as members of the Hip Hop culture. Parents want to stay in touch with their children so they look to MTV, BET, to see what their kids are listening to, how they’re speaking and dressing. It’s not uncommon for the younger generation to imitate that which came before, but how often is that really the case?
See I come from a time of rebellion. I came up during Regonomics, during the Crack Wars, When Sadaam said “Fuck Bush”, twice, when welfare was cut. When mans said you pick on me, I’ma shoot you and every one in the school who ever did. I came up when my uncle Shadow had the illest 64, and would come through the hood like the ice cream man. I came up when cops were killing and beating brothers, and the West Coast rioted over it. I came up when Johnny Gammage was killed, and police brutality spiked in the country. So when I look at all this conformity in Hip Hop, I get confused? Hip Hop as I remember was a middle finger to society. It said, you wanna ignore us, fine, but we’re still gonna bring this side of life to the forefront. I remember when Tupac was a threat to the camera, not an anniversary show or issue.
“What is he talking about specifically?”
We all know those are facts, but we need isolated instances. Skinny jeans, first. Why do you wanna dress like a woman, dude? Why? That shit is mad homo. You definitely don’t have to look like baggin saggin Barry either, but still. Men in and out of hip hop are looking more and more feminine by the day. What’s next, a take over of glam rappers?
Next, Drake. How many of you can honestly say you were fans of Drake from Room For Improvement, and Come Back Season? I love that the brother has been getting his shine, but how many of you can say if he wasn’t with Wayne, that you would have cared about another Canadian MC trying to cross over? I’ll wait … There are plenty of us trying to jump that border, and none have really done it successfully. I suggest you look more closely at the Toronto scene if you're really involved new Hip Hop.
I have never ever in my almost 24 years on this planet seen grown men so insecure with who they are; so they imitate other men, who look like other women. It’s a real bloodclot trouble.
“Times change, Jaxx, times change, take it easy”.
I know that however, let’s look at those times, shall we? People need to grow, people need to develop. Nine times out of ten, if you ask me how I’m doing, or what I’ve been doing, my answer is “Growing and developing brother/sister, how about you?” But this is where I get vexed. I get vexed when mans try to hate on where they were just last year, acting like those shoes were never being worn by the subject in question, just because it's not trendy any more. Like dude, you were wearing tall tees and expressing your gangstadome to any one who would listen just two years ago. Now you’re an all swagged out punk rock banging Mohawk sporting faggot who is wearing his sister’s jeans. Now I’m not pointing fingers right now, however, I will illustrate evidence.
When Wiz Khalifa first came out, he was almost a pretty typical punch line rapper from Pittsburgh. Always talking about how he can clap a man like Pakistan, this that and the third. Now listen to his lyrics … stark contrast. I was just watching his interview with Peter Parker on WorldStarHipHop.com and I got seriously annoyed. See I never said I expected Wiz to stay in that place, he was a kid then, now he’s in his 20s. He still makes some really good music, but some of it is just ultra wack. But he's reaching out as an artist, so I' not that mad. However, he totally wrote off his “old image” as if he was never there in the first place. Don’t believe me? Check for your self:
Even one of my favourite MCs out now is on that same bullshit, moreless. When Drake first came out, he was damn near a conscious rapper, and the only time he really rapped about women were positive rhymes. “Video Girl” for instance is a record about trying to keep women from choosing the lifestyle of a video vixen, being abused by Rappers and Ballers, ala Karrine Steffans, and a few other choice songs that were really dope, really powerful records that didn’t gain him the fans of the ignorant misogynistic stereotypical records. Now you hear his newer records, and it’s all about pussy, pussy, puss, fucking this bitch, this that and the third, or he's embracing all the falsititudes presented to him with his new found fame. Makes you wonder how highly these entertainers regard that record deal and executive approval. Will that make you look at things differently? Who knows, but the proof is in the pudding. Jay Z once rapped against his one time rival “is it black girl lost, or shorty owe you for ice?” That says it all.
Now we’re on Jay Z. Pause. Quite possibly the most overrated MC of all time, if not proving to be one of the worst as time goes on. But lemme reflect for a moment. Jay just dropped “D.O.A”, Death of Autotune. I got into an argument with my man Nuc about how bad that record sucks, but he told me it’s about the message. You know what, it really is. However, Jay has surrounded himself with nothing but Autotune users, and has all but co-signed every new trend out. Now all the sudden he wants the bandwagon riding to stop, he wants the autotuning to stop, but he refuses to say any names. Sounds like a bitch move to me, nigga. How are you going to claim to be the voice of a generation, or of a movement, when you remain silent and passive about all the suspect shit that occurs around you, son? You can’t pick and choose…
That’s the problem now. We all co-sign too much bullshit. We allow too much stuff to go on. Same thing as in the streets. Mans aren’t taking snitching personally. It’s just business as usual now. Mans say “oh he never snitched on me, so I don’t care”, until they get federally indicted. See we, as members of the Hip Hop culture; people with voices need to be more vocal about saying what’s wack, what’s hot, etc. It’s our civic duty, at the very least. DJs co-sign way to many wack records. MCs are just doing features with any one, regardless if they're wack or not. What is going on here?
Want a real example? My man Nuc, is a fan of my music, we’re friends, we always chop it up. He always spins my records when he DJs jams. He told me the other day that he isn’t feeling my song “What Are We Gonna Do?” I sing on the hook (with out autotune), and it’s about me breaking up with my fiancée. It’s actually a pretty lyrical record considering, and it’s really creative, but he feels I went soft, and strayed away from my true sound, as he hears it. That’s realness, and I respect him more for that statement. (For all y’all just now getting to know who I am, I was going to be a singer before I chose to MC.)
Now I know that we all need bandwagon riders and trend hoppers because if there weren’t any of those, trends would cease to exist. Except for Steelers football. All you faggot ass fair weather Steelers fans need to get the fuck on with all that nonsense. Where were you when we sucked? I digress …
See trend hoppers and bandwagon riders have always been a factor in Hip Hop, but for the most part we always got on our Warren G and regulated that ass, pause. But now it’s waaaaay to far out of hand. So the Ayatollah has stepped up and I hope that’s enough to start a trend to get people to speak out against wackness and garbage in Hip Hop.
Once again, I'm not expecting every one to platue, and cease to improve. That'd be redundant. The game has witnessed enough of that, and now it's like a land locked pond in the Florida everglades; stagnant and filthy, with no sign of any fresh circulation.
So what do we do? How do we quell this not so subtle scratch in that hard to reach area? At his point, what is protocol? Bloggers, like wack MCs have infiltrated the culture and begin to unload cancerous, useless commentary that has rapidly initiated relevancy asfixiation, one fodder filled blog at a time. (Where does that leave me, you ask?) I'm far from an arm chair quarterback, baby! I got the game plan drawn up, and I'm running all the plays, coach.
START CALLING THINGS LIKE THEY ARE!! Don't know how? Allow me to lead the way.
Tell Royce 5’9 to quit bullshitting and release “Street Hop” or he’s about to loose a fan. I’ve been waiting three years for that album. What’s the hold up? MCs, if you're gifted enough to sing, do it, just make sure you actually have talent. The group that is being passed off as R&B singers need to give the hell up, you all suck. Wiz, start dressing and rapping regular. Drake, your album better be amazing. I'm counting on you! Wale, quit wearing skinny jeans and punching fans for bullshit reasons. Jay Z, retire, and get off Young Jeezy’s dick. Since you soft ass urban media outlets in Pittsburgh are scared to issue the real truth, here it us. You all should take a note from me ... Humbly speaking, of course.
The Ayatollah has spoken. Word to Toronto
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Atari has been featured in and on almost every possible media outlet in publication and online including Urb Magazine and the promised land for artists, Rolling Stone.
Purchase the dopeness here
Here is the video "Ok, You're Right"
As David "Thelonious Stretch" Hughes pondered an audience member's suggestion for a Rhyme Calisthenics All-Star rap challenge Thursday, the crowd at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater started growing restless.
Hughes, the show's host and co-founder, already had rejected three topics -- including one about leather pants -- and the audience wasn't about to let another quirky, freestyle-rhyme possibility pass them by.
"I thought this was crowd topics -- you can't choose," a woman in the audience called out.
"OK, the topic is ... Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch!" Hughes said, eliciting laughter and groans from the crowd.
While one of the more unusual topics of the evening, Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch stood out as the perfect example of what Rhyme Calisthenics is all about. Part "8 Mile," part "Wheel of Fortune," Rhyme Calisthenics uses the "Wheel of Skillz" to assign challenges to contestants.
While considered veterans, the four Rhyme Calisthenics All-Stars -- Trevor "Real Deal" Weller of Mount Oliver, Malcolm "Mac Miller" McCormick of Point Breeze, Farooq "A-Jaxx" Al-Said of New Brighton and Daniel "Zone" Hopkins of Sheraden -- know better than to underestimate the difficulty of the wheel.
A-Jaxx, 23, ended his Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch freestyle with: "I want breakfast, I'll say it until I'm exhausted -- 'Hey ma, where's the turkey sausage?' " sending the crowd into frenzied hoots and hollers.
"Rhyme Calisthenics tests your skills as an artist in the best way physically and mentally possible," he said. "I definitely had to communicate with more wit and be a little more on my feet."
In "Mirror Match," contestants look into a mirror and battle rap their own image. In "Mackin'," contestants receive details about a woman's interests and then create an on-the-spot rhyme to woo her. In "Grab Bag," contestants pull items out of a bag and create rhymes for each object. It's all designed to test the rappers' skills and stretch their imaginations.
"If you can think of any concept an MC can do, it's on that wheel," Hughes said. "We broke this hip-hop thing down to a science."
Hughes, a Wilkinsburg native, met Rhyme Calisthenics co-founder James Brown when he moved to Harlem in New York City in 2000. The show, created two years ago, is loosely modeled after New York's "Challenge of the Champions," a similar freestyle battle.
"We wanted to have some kind of workshop event for local MCs in Pittsburgh to push them to be more creative, innovative and artistic with their music," Brown said.
A-Jaxx believes this kind of contest also can highlight the skills of Pittsburgh artists in ways a mere demo tape never could.
"If Rhyme Calisthenics blows up, it's gonna cement Pittsburgh hip-hop as a truly up-and-coming talent pool and will showcase a plethora of talented MCs," A-Jaxx said.
Zone, whose first-place finish earned him $100, four hours of free recording studio time and tickets to a Shadow Lounge anniversary event, said the showcase gives local hip-hop artists a chance to shine when the area is about to lose WAMO-FM, its only predominantly hip-hop and R&B station, in a few months.
"The rap city in Pennsylvania right now is Philadelphia," Zone, 19, said. "If Rhyme Cal blows up, it's going to mean we're right up there with them."
Hughes and Brown taped Thursday's performance and are shopping around the show to major television networks. They also hope to take Rhyme Calisthenics national, hosting competitions across the country.
"This isn't a local event," Hughes said. "We're definitely doing our thing in Pittsburgh but we're going to change the whole game -- change the face of hip-hop.
Check the highlight video of the Rhyme Cal All Star Competition here:
The Ayatollah has spoken
Original Post Date:
09/ Nov/ 08
Sha Stimuli is one of the most underrated MCs out right now. With my BPW series, I wanted to highlight and showcase some of my favourite MCs, and ask questions that you, the readers really wanna hear, and really wanna get answers to. Sha and I spoke about label politics, the useage of the "N" word, Nas, Barack Obama, the economy and respect, or rather, a lackthereof.
Jaxx: Peace and blessings ahk, I appreciate you taking the time out in your schedule, how you living brother?
Stimuli: I cant complain at all, Im breathing, sleeping, waking up and all that. Life is good.
In case niggas been living under a rock, tell em who Sha Stimuli is?
Hmm, hopefully they have computers under rocks because then even those cave people might know who I am. I'm still trying to figure out who I am myself but to sum it up, I'm what some would call a hip-hop artist that's pretty seasoned when it comes to how long I've been actually writing and how long I've been around the game. I won some awards for being a good rap guy and I get praised for putting words together but to be honest I feel like much more than a rapper. I use words to vent and music to me is bigger than just spitting bars. If you pick up my Stevie Wonder tribute "Hotter Than July" it will give you a good gauge as to what a versatile human with a gift for wordplay sounds like. I go through a lot of shit and I am vulnerable enough on record to put it all out there.
Let's cut the bullshit out the way, whats up with Virgin, all the label politricks, whats gwanin with that?
Man I have been advised to tone it down because I had stopped giving political answers for a while and I was just saying what it was. But the truth is I messed up my deal. I listened to people that told me I was going to be straight by leaving a label that believed in me. I didn't have records to take me to the next level at the time, well I did but we pushed the wrong ones and I wasn't with a team that was ready for fame and money. Some may call what I went through an obstacle but I see it as an opportunity for growth. I could be delusional though. Some may have seen me online saying Shawn Carter ruined my life or Def Jam stalled on me, but the reality is when you place yourself in a situation whatever happens is on you. I have to thank Virgin for believing enough in the beginning but I'm straight with being on a major. If it happens again I'll be ready.
Now, you've been going in hardbody in the streets, your buzz is banoodles right now, but do you feel that, honestly shit is where it's supposed to be? What's missing in your career right now?
I think I'm missing the kind of exposure where I'm more recognized by the fans of real music. I want to say that hip-hop for the unsigned emcee has turned into a popularity and buzz contest. It's about who can get hotter in the streets without even being hot on record. So with all that said, I am so grateful for the level I'm on but I don't think I'll ever be satisfied since I'm a big dreamer. If I can do music free of pressure and then jump in a few movies I will be more than happy. Right now I have to watch Joel Osteen on Sundays to tell myself I'll be ok. I'm joking, but for real I get this question a lot in different forms, when are you gonna be on tv? Why aren't you further? Why didn't you quit? I guess i'm just a dreamer that will not give up. I don't have an answer as to why I'm not a household name but the fact that i get questioned on it means that there are people that believe I am destined to do something special.
12 Mixtapes in 12 months, at the bare minimum, thats 120 new songs at least, in one year. You still moving forward with the idea, or what?
Yea when I started it seemed like it was going to be tough idealistically to come up with the music but the issue became keeping everyone around me motivated after knocking out some hot shit. Then once the Stevie CD got so much love I had to let it breathe. I stopped at 6 and did a little halftime and now i'm closing out with 6 more. I'm dropping Vs. The World and March on Washington (Election Edition) then I have 4 more that will come out in the next 2 months then I'm done with the mixtape game forever... I hope. Music is my release so I must say that this has been fun to do and a lot of work. I wish I had the resources to do 5,000 copies every month but online I've gotten great responses and people are enjoying what I have to say. I don't think any other artists on my level can do what i'm doing this year. I'm not just releasing old songs, I'm recording time sensitive relevant music and people can identify with it.
I can make all of Lil Waynes fans disappear like Lil Zane" - How do you feel about Wayne winning Lyricist of the year at the BET awards?
I didn't watch the awards so I didnt know he won. I will say this, there was a time when the most devout hip-hop fans and people in the industry would tell me to dumb my lyrics down and that the day of the emcee was dead. A bunch of folks said that noone cares about what rappers say anymore and that its all about the beat and they're image. Wayne put 10 yrs in the game making records before getting his just due and 90% of the reason listeners took notice is because his pen game stepped up. Do I think southern rappers are graded on a curve? Maybe. Do I believe that he thinks he can say whatever he wants now and get away with it? Perhaps. But the truth of the matter is he spits and its genuine and he works hard at his craft and no matter what region you're from when that happens it will be respected. I am happy for Wayne, especially with him selling all those albums showing the world that the recession will not stop good music.
I'm east coast born, east coast raised, and to this day my mp3s are pre dominantly east coast played. With NY pumping out brothers like Sha Stimuli, Skyzoo, Joell Ortiz, Corey Gunz, Saigon, Aasim, you know, is there any competition, any egos clashing?
I think there is always friendly competition between emcees that want to reach the top and claim the spot as the next to emerge from hood celeb to worldwide fame, but I think it's healthy. I don't believe egos are involved because we will all get on songs with each other and it will be no problem at all. For me personally, I dont try to be better than anyone else, I strive to be better than myself. If I was good last week, I want to evolve and find a new way to approach music that will inspire someone else.
You've collaborated with all of the above, do you have personal favourite record? In the same breath, is there any one who is out of the question in terms of working with?
I dont have too many records of mine that I like after I record 'em. I always hear things that could've been better. I like what Joell and I did on "Countdown," I like the collabs Sky and I have done. At this point, I would like to work with Andre 3000, Ceelo or Eminem. As far as people I wouldn't work with...I dont know. I could say a name and then meet that person or get in the studio with them and it be a whole different vibe. And this isn't a political answer I really just dont hear enough of these dudes to know who I wouldn't work with.
March On Washington, amazing mixtape. Given the current state of the union, do you think it's like Nas said? "trendy to be, the conscious MC"?
Nas said that? That bastard! Nah I dont think so. What people have to understand is that art imitates life. If we are in a state of emergency and popping bottles is not what folks want to hear then why would you put it out? At the same time why would you do what everyone else is doin? It may seem trendy but if you follow my track record I've never been too far to any one side. I speak about real things and if conscious means aware then I am aware, but I cannot be boxed in. And if you really think about it, that trend wouldn't be so bad for our youth and our music and our people as a whole. Saying something is how rap has lasted this long. Now the radio is filled with songs about nothing and we wonder why the kids know nothing.
I gotta song called "The N Word", and I personally try to say, ahk more, or brotha, but nigga always seems to re-enter the vernacular. Why do you feel that is? Why is does nigga ... come out with ease?
Its because its a part of our vocabulary and we may have disempowered it in the sense of taking away its negative connotation but it is still a word. Words are powerful no matter what we say or what context. They can wage wars, people die over them, and "nigga" is one of the most hateful words there is. We are surrounded by the word so much that we have taken on its characterstics and made it a separate species from Black people. It comes out easy because we allow it to. White people don't call themselves "Crackers" and even if they did it would take years for it to catch up to the same feeling of hatred. And without years of oppression and lynching and death added to it, there will be no other word in history to match the pain felt when one is called a "nigga." Is there a solution to it? Well in order to have Black people stop saying "nigga" we would have to simply stop saying "nigga". It starts with me, you, every public figure, every rapper everyone has to make a conscious decision to remove it from our vocabulary. As long as we feel like it may be ok or it's not bad if Jay-Z says it or Chris Rock makes it funny then it will remain there. Maybe in 40 years it will be a distant memory. I recorded that song with the hopes I would stop saying it and it almost worked. When I write rhymes now I try to exclude it unless i'm addressing it. In everyday life, I have more of a struggle because its like a smoking habit or something. But pay attention, things will change.
Just to make things interesting. Hypothetically speaking, if Obama happened to really fuck up in office, how would you feel? Do you think the hip hop community would completely loose hope in politics? Or would we make a truck load of excuses for dude?
I don't know what people expect, getting troops out of Iraq, cutting taxes, telling parents to focus on raising their kids, giving anyone with a dream hope are all things that are attainable and are already in motion in my eyes. I don't think anyone should start out putting hope in politics. That's like paying tithes at church and thinking your lights are gonna miraculously stay on. Faith in God and yourself is what we need. Barack is a representative for change in a country that needs it. He's part of a bigger process and a continuation started by a man that envisioned this and broke barriers 40 years ago. If he doesn't do what he promised right away or the country gets worse financially then I wouldn't blame him, the same way I dont blame George Bush for anything.
As MC's we all under go a certain, metamorphosis. On Joell's CD you say "I used to run in labels like, yo you should fuck with me I'm hot". How have you grown up in the game, and to what do you owe the, "coming of age" of sorts?
When I made that statement I was thinking about my days of taking meetings and searching for a record deal. That was the end all be all to get a deal and be able to live and do what I love doing. It worked out that way for a certain amount of time but I didn't capitalize off of it the way I could have. That alone has taught me a lot about life and music altogether. When team members come and go and when people depend on you to make it to a certain level and then you don't it can wake you up really. I always imagined getting to the top with the people I started out with and as your dream changes it doesn't fade, but it does alter a little bit. Nowadays I don't have the same desires I had in the beginning to be some rap superstar. I'm not focused on just being hot and selling a bunch of records. I've grown as a human with more to say and more folks to touch.
At one point in the game, it looked like, a lot of dudes were too nice for their own good. Even now, some of the illest dudes aren't securing good deals, not getting any promo, shitty album budgets, do you still think that's the case today?
Yea but it's a part of the game, sometimes the less talented will get the spoils, sometimes the best will get nothing. Then it may switch around again. There is no formula or sure fire way to make it in this biz. There is, a way to remain sane and be able to look at yourself in the mirror. The hip-hop audience we once knew is growing up and its a new generation of adults that grew up at the same time hip-hop did. These people still want to hear good music and will support it so that these artists we grew up on will become Ojay and Temptation type legends. The fast buck may not be the best thing right now, so artists may have to revamp and think about what will not only work for now but what will keep them around for years to come.
Look at the game now, and what's coming up; who's about to release albums, who are you really excited about?
Andre 3000 and maybe Kanye if he doesnt T-pain every song. Other than that I dont know.
The Ayatollah has spoken
The underground to me, is more than the foundation of hip hop. It's more than the back bone of the culture. The underground is to hip hop as NCAA is to the NFL. There's been a lot of talent emerging at an alarming rate in the underground. I keep my ear focused to street because no matter what's successful at the time, no matter what trend pops off, one thing is for certain. That shit will vanish in due time, and the underground wont. It always comes back to here. One of the most recognizable names in hip hop now is Skyzoo. The brother has been grinding hard for about 4 years on a mainstream scale. Hot 97 called him top 10 alive. The fans call him the new Brooklyn. The Undergound Music Awards named him Lyricist Of The Year. I call him one of my favourite MCs of all time. I caught up with the brother to discuss the game, his album The Salvation, his career, and even talk about the Super Bowl.
schedule, how you living man, you good?
No doubt, I feel that. First Things first, your album The Salvation. The streets, the fans, Hip Hop is really anticipating this. How is this going to differ from Cloud 9? What's the course of action for the release?
Well Cloud 9 was an EP, and it was done in a 3 day time span. That project was done on the fly, pretty much just a creative spark that happened and wound up becoming a cult favorite. Cloud 9 pretty much kicked in the door for me and my name. The Salvation is my full length debut album. This is the album that I've wanted to make since I started rapping. They say you take your whole life to make your first album, so this is mine. This is my Illmatic, my Reasonable Doubt, my Ready To Die, Only Built ForCuban Linx, etc. This is my first born. It's coming out on an indie label, which was a decision I made to preserve the quality of the project. I didn't want anyone hanging over my shoulders telling me what I could and couldn't put on the record. It'll be out in the spring of 2009.
You're a young dude; it seems that your grind is relentless. Was there
ever a time where the situation looked so bleak, the battle was so
uphill, you contemplated switching lanes and going another route?
All the time, which is displayed on the album at certain points. I think everyone goes through feelings of confusion when they're pursuing a dream. Nothing is guaranteed, so it's easy to leave it all behind and go somewhere. Luckily for me I never entertained those thoughts too much.
Top 10 Alive right now … Hot 97 put you in that echelon. How did you
feel when you first received that accolade? I mean let's be real,
there are a lot of dudes out that have more time in the game and got
looked over for that.
It felt amazing to know that what I'm doing isn't getting looked over. I do agree that there are other people that may have been in the game a little longer, but it wasn't about time in the game, it was about talent and hunger and impact on the game. I pride myself on my lyrics, so knowing that people take notice is rewarding.
XXL had their top 10 freshmen for 09, out side of Wale, Gunz, and B.O.B,
the whole list was mad suspect, did you feel slighted by not being
I did a little bit, but at the end of the day, I understand the nature of the business. I got a lotta love for XXL and they've been supportive of me for awhile, so it's cool. The thing about the cover though, is that everyone on there respects my music and is a fan of it, and vice versa, so we're all in the same class at the end of the day.
I remember watching you on 106 and Park Freestyle Friday straight
GRILLING Jin. Look at where he is, and where you are now, a tad ironic
I think it's all about the grind, you know. 99% of the people from the golden Freestyle Friday era stopped doing what they do. I never stopped. The ones who won and the ones who lost, they all kinda stopped. Me, Jin, Hell Rell and PostaBoy are still active. The rest have been quiet. That's not a diss at all, it's just they're probably doing other things or working on new music. But I never stopped. I actually saw Jin when I was in Hong Kong this fall doing some touring. He's doing a lotta music out there and making moves, so he's still on his job as well. He's cool peoples.
While we're talking about BET, how did it feel to actually see them
retire Rap City?
Aww man, that was horrible. Rap City was everything to me growing up. When Yo MTV Raps left, we still had Rap City, so it was cool. I used to dream about being on the show, going in the booth, signing the wall, etc. I got to be on the show a few times via the Spit Ya Game segments and the Mixtape of The Week segments, due to my mans Tee Smif and Omar, but I never got to be on the show live. I'm really upset that they ended it. I don't really see why they did so, but I'm sure it was for a good reason. I hope so.
The success of Corner Store Classic gathered a cult like following, got
you a slew of new fans, and is quite possibly one of the best mix tapes
ever released, did you anticipate that result during its conception?
Nah I didn't really see it all coming. I knew the hood would be behind it, but when I saw the 'net get behind it just as heavy, I knew I had something special. I'm glad people understood where I was going with it. I wanted to make a soundtrack for the corner stores everywhere. I guess I got the point across.
Everyone is talking about why Hip Hop is suffering, what was the last
moment you experienced that made you absolutely amped to be a fan?
Probably certain concerts that I've been to lately. Q-Tip's show in October, a Jay-Z show, Busta, I've been to a lotta shows lately and those type of artists make me feel like a fan again. No matter what you do professionally, you have to remain a fan, or you'll slowly lose out in what you do.
On the flip what moment left you the most disappointed over the past
All the nonsense that goes on with rappers. Just make dope music, never mind the bullshit that surrounds it.
You know, at first it was fair to say it was kinda jumping the gun to
say the "crank that" and all the do your what ever dance was killing
the game, but now after the mass production of the fuckry, a few years
later, what's your intake on it?
There has to be balance. There's always been dances; the Humpty dance, the Hammer, the Kid-N-Play kick step, etc. The difference is that wasn't the end all be all. You had that, and you also had De La and Ice Cube and Das Efx, etc, and they were all successful at the same time. Nowadays whatever works, everyone else follows suit. I guess I'm alone with being a loner in that.
Now there is talk on the net from naysayers, what have you, that
you're only a 16 bar rapper. You only got the 1 verse feature, or what
ever. What do you gotta say in response to that?
When my album drops all those people will eat their words. I've never been a 16 bar rapper, but I guess people penalize you for killing a verse. People act like they never heard records like The Bodega, Stop Fooling Yourself, Extreme Measures, Ghetto America, You & Me, True Romance, etc. I don't know. I guess whoever's reading this, if they haven't heard them, go listen to them and then re-think your thoughts.
The casual listener has no idea who Skyzoo is, what's your platform to
change that in 09?
I'm dropping a mixtape in late January called The Power Of Words specifically for those people. It's the last project dropping before The Salvation. The mixtape is really full of heavy bars and quotables and punchlines, and is gonna show people why Hot 97 named me top 10, why I won Lyricist Of The Year at the UMA's this summer. The Power Of Words is the proving grounds for that.
When was the last time you had to jump in a cipher and check the shit
out of an MC for exercising ignorance?
It's been awhile. I love being in ciphers and having fun, but it's been awhile since I had to battle. I love the ciphers though. You have to stay active in them in order to be sharp. It's lyrical exercise. I'm always up for that.
I'm from Pittsburgh, you know, brothers gotta know, what do you think
our chances are of taking the Super Bowl? Keep in mind Pittsburgh fans
don't play games son…
Haha, I think the Steelers are a good team, but I'm from NY, so I'm Giants all day. I hope we d it again this year.
(Editors note ... Readers ... forgive him, he knoweth not what he say)
Out of your BK compatriots, in your eyes, who is the most deserving of
Besides me? Up and comers right now from the borough, I'd say Torae, Nina B, Sha Stimuli, Push Montana, Nino Bless, and then the ones who are out there on larger scale I'd say Maino, Joell Ortiz, Uncle Murda, Pap, there's a good amount of us in the borough.
I ask everyone this question, if you could battle any one, dead or
alive, who would be number one on the list to soundclash with?
Wow, I'd say BIG just because I'd have the opportunity. I know what the outcome would be, but just to be able to say I did it would be enough reason to.
As it stands, what is the number one thing missing from your career
Getting my album out, which is months away from happening. I wanna get that out asap. Once I get this album out, I'll be good with my status and where that's gonna take me.
The Ayatollah has spoken
Original Post Date:
I wanted to feature one of my close friends, but not just for that reason. The brother I'm focusing this week on is out here grinding but his music angle isn't even the most amazing part of his hustle. This brother is literally marching for rights, freedoms, peace, equality, and working for justice for US. On top of that, he's dedicated an organization (LYRICS) to helping out aspiring emcees with getting in the game. Before I had said that no one in Pittsburgh was doing what I was doing lyrically, and outside of the rap game with educating about Islam and all that. I was only partially correct. Jasiri X and I are like Troy Polamalu and Willie Parker. We play for the same team, but different sides of the ball, no homo.
The Ayatollah: Born In Chicago, what was it that brought you to the city of Steel?
Jasiri X: I had moved to an area in Chicago called the Wild Hundreds on 109th and Indiana. I had begun to hang out get into trouble. My mother saw me going down a path that she did not want for me so she got a job that would have moved us to Grand Rapids, Michigan or Pittsburgh. Since I was a Steelers fan I wanted to move to Pittsburgh. The rest is history.
You've gained quite the reputation in Pittsburgh to be a, no nonsense, take charge, almost militant guy. Your music almost mirrors that. Is there a separation between the image, the music, and the man?
Not really because I don't consider it an image, that's me. The music that I make comes directly out off the organizing and community work that I do. There is no separation because the music that I'm making is an extension of speaking the truth.
That's like such a rare commodity in this game. People heard Enough Is Enough, and Free The Jena 6, now with This Week With Jasiri X, are you worried about being perceived as the angry black man of rap?
More so like the tragedy rapper like I can only make a song when something goes wrong. But it's so few rappers that speak to the real hurt of our people and our community that there is a void that needs to be filled, so I'll never regret stepping up and speaking the truth regardless of the perception.
Preach brother! Now do you think when labels hear you, and the masses hear you, it's gonna be like "Oh here comes Jasiri on the pale horse" or more of "wow finally, a breath of fresh air?"
Probably some of both because there are a lot of Hip-Hop fans that are tired of the same BS topics and want to hear real issues addressed. Then some people don't want to think they just want mindless entertainment. Plus most rappers are trying to "blow up" so they will do any type of music they think will sell. What's funny is me riding the "pale horse" has probably gotten me more attention from labels that a lot of them will ever see.
Have you caught any slack musically because of what you stand for, what you write and perform?
Master P was mad at me for the Jena 6 song but that's as far as it ever went. If anyone did get crazy I hope they remember I am FOI so it's best to keep it lyrical.
Yall hear that? Don't start no stuff, won't be no stuff. When I listen to your music it's almost like a relief that I hear other brothers just as concerned as my self who are really speaking to these fans. Do you write your music with the fans in mind, you know the young consumer or the parents?
I make it a point not to use profanity because so many people were shocked that I could express myself so well without it. Plus I want to make music I can play around my children
The new Chuck D, how do you feel about being called that?
REAL GOOD! Chuck is one of the reason's I'm rapping today; he changed my life by introducing me to Minister Farrakhan through his music
Let's talk about the world, and our country. How long do you think it is until things shape up economically?
They might never shape up real talk Barack has a hell of a job. I'm praying for the brother, but the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught that when America went off the gold and silver standard she sealed her doom financially.
Let's talk about the doosey. Now we're both Muslim, but we have different, teachings for lack of a better word. Even with division being present in the US' Islamic communities, from the NOI, to Shi'a, Sunni, Sulafi, what have you, why do you feel that our country has yet, and probably won't see any physical conflict, between the groups unlike over seas?
Because we are all under attack here in America as Muslims. When the media negatively portrays Islam they don't make a distinction between the communities. Minister Farrakhan teaches us that when a community is under attack it brings you closer together, plus many of those who are now Sunni or Shi'a were first introduced to Islam through the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam.
Do you ever feel that it's going to be a social norm, being a Muslim in the states?
Of course, Islam is the fastest growing religion in America. It's just a matter of time. I mean our President-Elect is named Barack Hussein Obama. That's a good start right?
Aside from the N.O.I, and the Pittsburgh Hip Hop scene, you're a member and from what I can tell the spokesperson for 1Hood. Explain exactly what is 1Hood?
For the record I am not the spokesperson I am one of the founding members.
The mission of One Hood is to provide a model for leadership development through coalition building, community involvement, cultural enrichment, use of technology, grassroots programming, and holistic education with the purpose of empowering and supporting youth to be productive citizens to effect positive change in our communities.
One Hood's vision is to be a leader in establishing a new cultural paradigm promoting unity, pride, and integrity that transcends across political, religious, gender, racial and economic lines. We envision a free, just, and equal world where all of humanity has accountability in themselves, each other, and their communities.
Now if you're involved in the scene here, you know that Jasiri X is a fundamental part of the Pittsburgh Hip Hop scene, but to some, you're still "That nigga on that other shit." Does that bother you?
Not at all in fact, I LOVE IT. It's exactly what I want to be and is the key to most if not all of my success. I'm different that what 99% of MCs are trying to be so I stand out from everybody else. BTW this question actually inspired a song you will hear in the near future so thanks!
Haaa, no doubt ahk, just give me points or publishing, something. Or you could just pay me in bean pie. Looking through a microscope, what's wrong with the Pittsburgh Hip Hop Scene?
See previous question LOL! The problem is no one wants to be different, so 99% of the MCs sound, look, dress, and act like every other rapper they see on BET. That's what's so refreshing about Living Proofe, A-Jaxx , Nova, Charon and MCs that are coming with creativity and originality.
On a broader scale, what is it that's the main pollutant in Hip Hop today? What do you see being the catalyst for change in both spectrums?
What ruined Hip-Hop is rappers started trying to "make a hit" and stopped making good music. The catalyst had been the fans not buying these wack excuses for albums. Plus sites like Myspace and Youtube allow artist to connect directly with fans minus the middleman to build their fan base.
To date, what's your biggest accomplishment?
Musically it has to be This Week With Jasiri X. I never thought it would get so big so soon and the response from it has been incredible, some of the messages I have gotten had a brother misty eyed.
When was the last time you had to get raw and smash a dude in a battle?
A few years ago at Allderdice I started a Hip-Hop program and one of my students put up for anyone who could beat me. These young dudes start salivating because I'm there with a suit on. Needless to say he went hone with his $100.00.
Take a look back at this year in hip hop, what was your take on it? Favourite albums, least favourite, favourite artist, and least favourite?
My favorite album was Nas' Untitled. I thought the way he was able to take the N Word and weave it into so many different concepts was genius. Also NYOIL's Hood Treason was dope in that it was conscious but hard at the same time not that tofu eating, beatnik, soft image that classifies what the mainstream considers conscious rappers. I was most disappointed in Jay Z feeling he had to go back to this fictional gangsta image, when it looked like he was growing as an artist, also that Wu-Tang album as mad disappointing and Common and Kanye did not rep the Chi to the fullest this year.
When can we expect a new album from you?
Well I'm currently in "discussions" about my "situation" hopefully soon I'll have an announcement and a date for the album. Until then check This Week With Jasiri X for your weekly fix.
The Ayatollah has spoken