Thursday, July 2, 2009

Back Packer Weekly: Jasiri X Interview

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