For those who aren’t yet up on you, how would you introduce yourself?
I’m a writer, a Hip Hop/rap artist, an activist. I represent the people, the 99%, the working man and woman, people who struggle, people who cop new fashions or do drugs to cope with their problems. Real humans. To me, that’s what this culture is all about. I rap about shit I know, shit I been through, shit I see, shit I fear and shit I dream about. I’ve wanted to die, been in trouble with the law, graduated from college, worked my ass off. I hate the man, I love my people. I’m sarcastic, self deprecating, brutally honest, passionate, compassionate, sensitive, super-lyrical. I want peace, but I aint afraid to knock somebody head off. I’m anti-arrogance and I don’t give a fuck if you swag. I do me, and that’s exactly why they feel me.
Your “World View” project is scheduled to be dropping soon. Can you explain what it is, who’s involved and your motivation behind it?
World View is dropping in 2012, presented by DJ Booth, End of the Weak (EOW/EODub) & The Morgan Stanley Foundation. The first-ever 100% for-charity global Hip Hop project, World View features contributions from every continent, approximately 20 countries and every United States region. The album boasts production from Domingo, Harry Fraud, The White Shadow, Tranzformer, ATG and many more, as well as guest emcee appearances from the likes of Joell Ortiz, Sean Price and KRS-One. All proceeds are being donated to Guns 4 Cameras (a.k.a. Aim to Live), a 501c3-registered nonprofit dedicated to eradicating street violence through the Hip Hop-inspired education and empowerment of our at-risk youth.
Your music is very influenced by your social views and your activism. How important is it for those passions to be conveyed in your music?
My mother was an activist. I was raised an activist. I have a bachelor of art’s degree in Sociology from Vassar College. I’ve led protests all over the country as well as worked in maximum security prisons, alternative to incarceration centers, teen centers and soup kitchens. And I do feel strongly that politics are important because they affect us at the street level, in our day-to-day lives, even if we can’t always see or feel it. But politics aint everything. And ideas and songs can be political without being blatant, in-your-face, Democrat-vs.-Republican political.
Of course, my political opinions and passions are important to me and play a significant role in my music, my message and my movement, but this doesn’t mean every song is intended to be or going to come off as political.
Do you see your music as having a particular goal or is it more about communicating what’s inside you?
I make music to release, for myself. I make music to relate, for my listeners. And, less often, I make music to educate, for those who can learn from my experiences or education. I am not just a political rapper, or a Jewish rapper, or an underground/indie rapper. I am complex, just like my fans and followers. On World View and other projects, I:
Go in on current events (e.g., “Mr. President” w/ Y-Love; or “Imperialism” w/ C-Rayz Walz & Reks).
Speak revolution right to the 1% (e.g., “The People’s Champions” w/ Shabaam Sahdeeq, Punchline & Beretta 9 [of Killarmy]).
Comment on the state of Hip Hop (e.g., “Radio 2.0″ w/ KRS-One et al.).
Talk that gritty, grimy street shit (e.g., “Bars & Hooks” w/ Sean Price, The Kid Daytona & The Incomparable Shakespeare; or “Metal Music” w/ ILL BILL, El Gant, Tenacity & Blame One).
Embody other objects (e.g., blood in “Stay Spittin Stay Flowin”; or drugs in “Requiem” w/ SoulStice, Ess Vee & CuzOH! Black [coming soon!])
Share my secrets and insecurities (e.g., “Doctor Doctor” w/ GuessWho?).
Divulge on relationships (e.g., “Thank You (A Tribute To My Mommy)”; or “The Dating Game – Revisited” w/ Jade Foxx).
Celebrate with my peoples (e.g., “Cheers” w/ Whatzisface).
Attempt to inspire (e.g., “The World Is Yours” w/ Sha Stimuli; or “All My People” w/ Josh Martinez et al.)
You’ve done a number dope joints with Harry Fraud who is blowing up crazy. How did you two initially link up?
Fraud and I met about a decade ago, before anyone had heard of either of us. We met through mutual friends Various, Werdplay and Fafu of BLESTeNATION, an Interscope-signed group that only a few years ago seemed destined for stardom. Fraud produced a couple records on my solo debut LP “See the Light”. In 2011, he and I both took big steps forward, and I am very proud of and happy for him. And, good news, we got more hot records in the works and coming soon, including one with Voli and me that is already finished, stupid crazy dope, and POSSIBLY destined for Fraud’s album and/or World View. For more on this, look out for a forthcoming feature on RefinedHype.com.
Who are some of the artists who have inspired you and who you look at as role models in the game?
As a ‘Tough Jew’ growing up, I was inspired by artists with similar backgrounds, such as ILL BILL and Remedy. As a politically minded emcee, I have been inspired by Immortal Technique and Chuck D. And as an artist, I learned a lot about the writing, recording, production and performing processes from friends Harry Fraud and Whatzisface. But truthfully, I am much more inspired by what goes on inside my head and in the world around me, as well as by philosophers, social theorists and political activists.
Any new artists that you’re feeling lately and are looking to work with?
Production wise, I would love to work with DJ Premier, Alchemist and the Snowgoons. As for fellow emcees, I don’t want to give anything away because, at this point, with World View, anything is possible, and some crazy collaborations are already quietly being cooked up.
What’s on the horizon for 2012 for you?
I’m almost finished with World View. Just a few more records to complete, and then I’ll be dropping this multi-year effort via DJ Booth later this year. After World View, I am going to spend a lot more time writing and a lot less time networking and promoting. Since I didn’t start taking this rap thing seriously until December 2009, I’ve had a lot of catching up to do. But once my foothold is fully established with World View, I plan to work on more solo records, with some of the most creative producers in the game. I plan to push boundaries and inspire these geniuses to go even further left field with me. We all know that’s where I belong.