HHF Opinion: Manslaughter; We have a charge, will there be a conviction? 

Written by: Warnell Jones

Call me crazy, but I think I just witnessed America showing some form of guilt and remorse. I may be losing it, but did the mighty US of A take action against a white police officer for the unjust murder of a black man?

 

Perhaps good old America is coming to its senses, realizing that it’s not (never, ever was) acceptable for police officers to use deadly force against situations that don’t call for such. We hope that someone in our judicial system came to see this (and every instance like it) for what it is – a crime.

 

Allow me to catch you up on current events.

 

Terance Crutcher

On September 16, 2016, in Tulsa, OK, Officer Betty Shelby killed Terence Crutcher – an unarmed; or otherwise innocent, black man – after shortly being tazed by her fellow officer during a traffic incident. She later gave the press the excuse of Crutcher not following orders and possibly reaching through a closed window for a weapon (that was never in the vehicle). Now generally, these claims are coerced and allowed as fact in these cases. However, multiple videos of the incident have made this case different.

 

Betty Shelby

On September 22, 2016, Officer Shelby was charged with Felony 1st Degree Manslaughter – punishable up to life in prison.

 

This is an anomaly in modern-day American society – history tells us that no matter the offense, the powers-that-be (the judges, in this case) choose the side of the lawman against the side of the victims. So often, the officers that commit these crimes are sent on paid leave, while the system “investigates”, only to determine that the officers in question will not have charges brought against them.

 

In 2014, 100 unarmed black men & women were killed by police, notably including young Tamir Rice & Michael Brown. No convictions of murder or manslaughter for any officers.

 

In 2015, 102 unarmed black men & women were slain by police, notably Sandra Bland while in police custody. Of those cases, 2 convictions of manslaughter were found.

 

This year, the names range from Alton Sterling to Philando Castile, from Korryn Gaines to Keith Lamont Scott. Now Terence Crutcher. This is the 1st charge for manslaughter this year. That staggering statistic means that if the police have a similar number of unarmed killings this year, and Officer Shelby is the only officer convicted this year, the rate would be 1%. Over 3 years, 300 unarmed people killed by police, 3 convictions.  3 / 300 = 1%.

 

Certainly, in an America where “all men are created equal”, that idea doesn’t fare well for anyone in possession of melanin-heavy skin.

 

Perhaps I am somewhat elated to see that black people of America are getting a chance of an apology, of recognition, of acceptance.

 

But then again, history shows me different. That 1% number only happens if a conviction is handed to Officer Shelby. Right now, she’s only been charged……

 

…….and we know a charge and a conviction are two different things.


Source of statistics: http://www.mappingpoliceviolence.org. 


HHF September

Mixing it up for this month, an interview with NTG – half of the quintessential Philly ‘power couple’ by Big Momma ‘Miz’ and a portfolio of hip-hop inspired paintings by Delaware’s Alim Smith, specially chosen by the artist for Hip Hop Forum digital magazine. Up next, Warnell Jones speaks to Ajawavi Ajavon, who set up an NGO ‘Every Man Counts’ to support men post-divorce/separation to help them stay close to their children. Nobodee Jones writes on the alleged ‘death of the lyricist, while Big Momma ‘Miz’ offers her take on the police shooting of Korryn Gaines and the Sovereign Citizen movement and Vince Comegys-Davis encourages you to check out these great hip-hop festivals in September.
Thank you for your ongoing support: get involved, become part of the magazine, write for us, keep in touch.
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HHF Report: Hip Hop Festivals (September, 2016)

Written by Vince Comegys-Davis

Dear Hip Hop,

While you are a part of our everyday lives, it has been a while since we have had a conversation. From the beginning you have been a best friend to many, touched the souls of the world and have helped us through tough times. You have evolved with every new generation and with each one that has taken the torch to pass on your knowledge it has been said that a piece of you has disappeared.

As it is now there is fear that you have already been laid to rest. It was with a heavy heart that these words touched my conscious and I could not help but wonder how it is that this culture that has impacted the world in so many ways has ended. Was it all cleverly laid plans to further alienate a people? If that is the case then we must raise a fist in the air for those who take up arms through hip hop to pass on the knowledge of the past to future generations. So as it is believed that the human spirit does not perish, so too is it that the spirit of hip hop does not fall. Which then begs the question, why is it that we continually hear that hip hop has died? Is it because we are being force fed a watered down version of what hip hop once was? If so, where have you been old friend?

*Pause*

In fact, your essence has been felt. No, not so much because of the mainstream but because of the underground. Through events and organizations that understand the culture and wish to share it with their communities. Allow me to share that information with those who may be reading this ode to you.

In 1973 (as the story goes) Kool DJ Herc was playing at a party and found a way to extend the break beat of songs. There were good vibes throughout these parties and they brought together communities. This is where hip hop, the music aspect, began and it is still alive in the world today at events throughout the world.

If you wish to be a part of hip hop in its purest form, why not check out these events this month in Philadelphia, California and Baltimore …

 

  1. Allentown Arts Festival

Presented by The Alternative Art Gallery

September 30-October 2, 2016

Allentown, PA

www.allentownartsfest.com

 

  1. Meeting Of Styles

September 16-18

San Francisco, CA

http://www.meetingofstyles.com

 

  1. Skillz Over Politicz

Johns Hopkins University

September 10

Baltimore, MD

http://www.skillzoverpoliticz.eventbrite.com

 

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Born and raised in the city of Wilmington, DE. Like many other inner city youth hip hop was a major form of self expression, but Vince Comegys-Davis took a different route into the culture. Beginning in musical theater and training in the classical styles, it didn’t take for him to realize that his first love was for the dance element of the culture. Since 2007 Vince has been passing on the knowledge that has been bequeathed to him and it was this mindset that brought forth the creation of Street Xpressions Arts Organization.  A nonprofit organization in which he is the Executive Director. It is here that Vince, his board and the teachers will continue to pass on the history of the culture.  Vince is part of the New Black Writers Program, managed by Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine, to support, nurture and develop the talents of Black American journalists of the future.

HHF Opinion: The police shooting of Korryn Gaines and the Sovereign Citizen movement

Written by Big Momma ‘Miz’
On August 1st, 23 year-old Korryn Gaines was fatally shot by police during a stand-off (when holding her son who was also injured). Unlike other recent police shootings of Black Americans, the community reaction was muted: there were no street marches, no vigils, no riots and protests. Some claimed that this lack of public outrage reflected broader sexism in the US and a lack of interest in recognizing Black American women shot by police – symbolized by the #SayHerName movement that followed the death of Sandra Bland in Texas. 
But as Big Momma ‘Miz’ writes here Gaines is a ‘controversial’ figure, not only because of her behavior with the police but also for status as a Sovereign Citizen, a group previously associated with white supremacist movements.

 

Have you ever heard of or met a Sovereign Individual/Citizen?

In a nutshell, these people have a strong belief in their obligation to individual rights; a disbelief of political equality; a belief in the right to financial and personal privacy. Meaning, sovereign citizens are anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or “sovereign” from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement.

Police say a Baltimore County officer stopped Korryn Gaines’ car in March because it displayed cardboard signs in place of a license plates, which stated, “Any Government official who compromises this pursuit to happiness and right to travel will be held criminally responsible and fined, as this is a natural right or freedom.” The officer wrote several tickets; as expected, and asked her to get out the car because it will be towed; as expected.

Now let’s be real, If you’re riding around with a piece cardboard instead of state issued plates, there is a possibility you may encounter some police interaction. And when we are faced with it, is it wise as a ‘black person’ to add more fuel to the fire? According to police, Gaines became belligerent and had to be forced from the car because she refused, it was said that she told an officer they would have to murder her to get her out of the vehicle.  Gaines recorded the stop, on the video she allegedly told her son; “Don’t be afraid, you see what they do to us, right? You fight them. They are not for us. They want to kill us, and you never, ever back down from them.”

Ryan Gaines, her 26-year-old brother, described his sister as a determined woman who would fight battles even when it was clear she couldn’t win.  “She’s very opinionated; she stood her ground,” he said. “That’s the thing about Korryn, right or wrong, she stood her ground.”  Gaines said he and his sister shared unpopular political beliefs.  Whenever they witnessed injustice, he said, they felt compelled to object.  

OK, I understand the mindset of having love for yourself and your people and wanting to see better treatment in certain circumstances, but where her antics justifiable? Some family members believed Gaines acquired militant beliefs. Her mother said she did not agree with all of Gaines’ beliefs but knew her daughter was passionate.  

Media reports, dependent on police accounts, say the police used extreme patience before firing first – and yet, although Baltimore County Police had recently implemented a body camera program, none of the officers on the scene of the Gaines’ shooting were equipped with body cameras, nor did they send for any.

On August 1st police went to Gaines’ apartment in Randallstown, Maryland to serve her with an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court, five months after the traffic incident. Police say that Gaines barricaded herself with a shotgun at the apartment. For hours, police said they tried to talk her down. At one point, they obtained another warrant charging Gaines with first- and second-degree assault, obstructing and hindering, and resisting or interfering with arrest, according to court records reported by the Baltimore Sun.

Police state that Gaines repeatedly threatened them and aimed her gun at them. At around 3 pm, she allegedly said, “If you don’t leave, I’m going to kill you.” An officer fired his weapon once, according to police. Gaines returned fire. Police then opened fire. By the time it was over, Gaines was dead and her 5-year-old son, Kodi, was injured.

It appears that Gaines’ actions were in alignment with the anti-government sovereign citizen movement. I’m not sure if she was a participant in the parties that held illegal courts that issued warrants for judges and police officers “making a citizen’s arrest”.  Their weapon of choice is paperwork, they jam the court system with frivolous lawsuits and liens against public officials to harass them. And they use fake money orders, personal checks, at some government agencies, banks, and businesses.  Sovereign citizen’s cast-off courts, laws and law enforcement as illegitimate.

Interestingly, considering Gaines’ African-American background, most early sovereigns, and some of those who are still on the scene, believed that being “white” was a prerequisite to becoming a sovereign citizen. The movement is rooted in racism and anti-Semitism, though most sovereigns, many of whom are African American, seem to be unaware of their beliefs’ origins. In my opinion, that has to be the highest level of ignorance next to being a Christian. 

In the early 1980s, the sovereign citizen’s movement mostly attracted white supremacists and anti-Semites, because sovereign theories originated in groups that saw Jews as working behind the scenes to manipulate financial institutions and control the government.

Was Korryn Gaines’s death a result of being “down for the cause” if so, please tell me what exactly is the cause? Here is a movement that originates among white supremacists, but many supporters now are African-American….WTF?

I cram to understand our people’s mentality thinking we can align ourselves with any type of movement that isn’t designed for us, or displaying actions that bear absolutely no results, like marching and protesting! Some believe Korryn’s erratic behavior to the lead poison she reportedly suffered from.

While all of this may be true, it’s useful to remember another case – that is similar to the one leading to the death of Korryn Gaines in August – involving Baltimore County police from 2000 that lasted for days, not hours.

After Joseph Palczynski went off in a murderous shooting spree in the Baltimore suburbs, which left four people dead (including a pregnant mother of a two-year old boy) he took the family of his ex-girlfriend hostage in their Dundalk home. After a 97-hour standoff with Baltimore County police (Palczynski actually shot at police on several occasions during the siege), two of the three hostages escaped after drugging the gunman and that’s when law enforcement finally entered the home while Palczynski slept and killed him.

Joseph Palczynski killed four people in a span of about 48 hours, held a family hostage while he shot at police, and law enforcement waited almost 100 hours before they finally entered the home where he was holed up as he slept and killed him. Yet, Korryn Gaines died in less than six hours after police attempted to serve her a warrant for a traffic violation, while using “extreme patience”.

080616-national-korryn-gaines-instagram

 

Sources:

Baltimore Sun; Anderson J. & Amarachi Mbakwe 2016 Aug 5

newPittsburghCourierOnline.com Yoes, S. “Was There a Rush to Kill Korryn Gaines” 2016 Aug 11

www.splcenter.org Fighting Hate/ Extremist Files Turner, Timothy J.

www.vox.com Baltimore County shot Korryn Gains – and her 5 year old was caught in the crossfire Lopez, G. 2016 Aug 4

 

HHF Opinion: New Rap Style (if you call it that!)?

Written by Nobodee Jones

The death of the lyricist Is a reality that has the nerve of hip hop heads and hip hop culture irked. The cats that laid this ish down, right? See this is where my opinion may clash with some. It could also be that I may need to be enlighten on the culture perhaps. A cat ain’t above learning or derailing my own ignorance. Yet if I gather this ish right hip hop’s cultural music, rap didn’t start in the conscious mind of correcting the ills and “keep it real” philosophies or the tight quips and spit of the world or by shining lights on the black and grey matters of Ghetto and Po’ville, USA. In fact, it was more like to get your mind off the bullish and f*ckery that every town and country had burdened my folks with. True dat a cat was not immersed in the era that birthed the culture, so all this is a second hand account of his story. Yet I recall the talks from older cats of days when it was a delight to hear raps from the gang in sugar hill. The artistry that made flash a grandmaster, and the how Flex mastered the funk. [On another note: My thought actually reflects back to the tales of DJ’s mastering the breakbeats and looping. Giving cats ammo to bust out backflips, backspins, windmills, and robotic moves.] But when cats started rapping It felt more braggadocious and to keep the party live.

Now we fast forward to the hip hop scene today. True, a cat really isn’t into a lot of the music getting built up or pumped by mainstream and media so much. A lot of these cats just saying box ‘cause it rhyme with socks and they ride the rhyming to deliver bull-ish glazed over with a “catchy hook” Now, the question is this. Isn’t this just party music, turn up tunes, or get lit hits, whatever you want to call it? Ok, now they even got the culture throwed. The whole wardrobe is some bull-ish. The technicality of making tights out of jean material got these cats on some real Gangstalicious ish. But here’s another throwback thought tho. Remember the era of disco or what I call that “purple era” with Prince, Morris Day, and cats like them. Know what I’m talking about? That time when these cats was dressing up in spandex and frills and wearing make -up and all other androgynous tomfoolery (not the word I wanted take out fool and at sex act + ery)? Sometimes this ish seems like a cycle and you get a certain type a cat that gets in touch with his inner bird and then call that shit fly. Just saying, these cats aren’t too different than those cats.

Back on the point tho. Trap music and trap beats aren’t the death of hip hop lyricism. Those beats don’t determine the course of the culture. In fact, the music is significant in showing growth of the culture in the creation of another subgenre of sound. The issue is that some of these new cats don’t give a ish as long as they get the fame and the money.  Check this, I don’t force my kids to listen to any genre. What appeals to the soul can’t be told but if they want to know what hip hop is, I school em.   (i.e. Hustle, & Lil DJ.)These kittens now a days don’t know the history and at this point, it probably wouldn’t matter if they did. Not as long as the standard for a successful track is a tight beat and a nice hook. {sidebar: Oh this is what happens when industry comes into play. If you lower the bar for acceptable work, let’s say lyricism, you then increase the abundance of lyricist. We all love a good beat. So get a neck dancer track, make that head sway. So now the paradigm shifts to DJ’s & producers cause you can throw bull-ish on it and it still jam.  Recall the verse in planet rock, we still jammed and sang along with that za za za…just sayin’) Maybe its growing pains of the culture? You know that time when you woke up and had head full of white head embarrassment spread across ya face. So here’s one perspective; these kittens mumbling on the mic with their generic bars and flamboyant presentation of themselves cannot kill lyricism in the game. It’s true that if you dub it Hip-Hop or rap music it’s a bit offensive how I see it. Its like taking the art form backwards an that’s the ish that gets under the skin.  This is why you gotta  keep ya ears open for  cats like Prynce Tone, Southside Louie, J. Israel, Diggz Da Prophecy & La Dub Z,  The culture is amidst an industrial hostile takeover and these little cats do not know or care they pawns, they out for they scratch.

Mic Check – The Idiocy of Mumble Rappers | EP.02ble Rap…

This is the direction of mainstream. It’s a money game. The standard has been lowered and they undermining the worth and skill of a lyricist.  Got these kittens treating the lyrics like an accompaniment instrument. This is an offense to the Hip-Hop Culture.  Its nonsensical verbal upchucks and folks confusing the smell of this as real shit cause they throw in references to the life of struggle and hustle in that word vomit. Nothing like songs by artist like  King Cobb, Banner, Flame Da Darkchild , & Ratt Boi, Mainstream don’t play them but play that bullish and you know what happens if you hear the same tune over and over, regardless if you hate it. You gone find yourself humming or singing it.  Not knocking these kids hustle, neva that. They only PROVE the need for RAWR Radio, and that cats we spin; D-Dot Jewels, Tha Message, M.O.D tha Hardhead, Kelly Machete, & Dre K.B along with the great avenues for artist and hip hop culture like Big B Show, Hip-Hop Forum, Cro Audio-& Video Studios, and Labels like CTOWN  Records, MilliUp, Open Window Ent., Over the Top Ent., and  GamFamTV.

 

James “Nobodee Jones” Horton, co-owner, online broadcaster, personality for RAWR Radio based in Ardmore, Ok. Born in Ardmore, OK raised in Atlanta, GA. Pays homage to hip hop culture through RAWR Radio weekend Show cast via Mixlr.com online. RAWR Radio itself grew from a personal need that mainstream hip-hop is failing to produce. Although still in the early stages the shows continue to see growth. We feature Unsigned Underground artist. Real radio, just like you like your Hip-Hop! From the heart but not for the overly sensitive. Check out the RAWR website and stay connected with Nobodee Jones and RAWR Radio on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,Soundcloud,Google+. RAWR! 

HHF Interview: Ajawavi Ajavon, ‘Every Man Counts’

Written and interviewed by Warnell Jones

If you’ve been paying attention to life over the last thirty years or so, you’d come to notice that the fabric of the traditional family has been tearing away ever so steadily. Now, that doesn’t mean that single parent homes cannot work, but rather that the optimal situation of two-parent homes seems to be fading away.

In many cases, fathers are not an equal part of their children’s lives – sometimes, even dictated by the judicial system to be this way. Many single mothers have taken the task of attempting to be both mother and father because there was no proper resolution to the relationship, nor proper mediation within. It is an issue within our society that has changed the “norm” when it comes to family.

In the wake of her own family troubles, Ajawavi Ajavon found a true calling in the field of family re-attachment – focusing on FATHERS. Her company, DAB Mediation, has spawned an organization called Every Man Counts. It’s through this organization that she, along with others, have created hope and confidence for men in the areas of child support, co-parenting, and relationship mediation.

EveryManCounts

HHF: Thank you so much for taking sometime today to talk to us about your great organization, Every Man Counts. How did this awesome thing get started?

Ajawavi Ajavon: Ok. Every Man Counts started from my own personal experience. I was married for eighteen years, and when I filed for separation, my ex-husband separated from not only me, but also our children. I saw my kids go through heartache, and now I had to take on the role of being “mom” and “dad”. I was the “den mother”, the “cub scout mother”, the “girl scout mother”, and the “basketball mom” – I had to split myself three ways, one for each of my kids; one a cheerleader, one a basketball player, and one a Cub Scout. I saw that they appreciated what I did – sometimes they didn’t want to make me go out of my way to do things, but I enjoyed it – but I could still tell they missed that “father figure” in their lives.

So, I started working with my ex-husband to help him understand how important it is to be in the children’s lives; not only as married, but especially when we separated. I didn’t want him to take out his frustration against me on the children. He’s still coming around – it’s a work in progress. The kids are 24, 21, and 15 – they were 15, 12, and six when we separated.

I was a certified mediator for the courts in Delaware and New Jersey, and I seen that so many people would come into court unprepared. Same as my ex-husband, when I took him to court for child support, he was dumbfounded, like, “What? Why do you need child support?” So, I took my experience, and what I would want for my children, and created Every Man Counts. I knew it was important to educate the fathers. Through my experience with my ex-husband, I had something to teach the fathers, so other mothers wouldn’t have to go through what I went through. I’ve noticed it’s not just in our community – it’s in every male community, black, white, Asian, Hispanic. Every Man Counts, because when we build better dads, we build better lives.

HHF: What type of things do you do in this organization?

Ajawavi Ajavon: I educate fathers, from the early stages – changing diapers, breast milk feeding – all the way to the adolescent stages – what to talk about with your daughter during her first menstrual cycle, and her first boyfriend. Some of these things I help educate fathers on because I know fathers that are afraid to talk about these necessary subjects.

We hold lots of workshops. Financial literacy, entrepreneurship, activity ideas for the fathers who have their kids in joint custody, healthy food choices, co-parenting. We also have a program for those that need assistance with re-entry, and those needing assistance with court proceedings. It’s called CourtSmart. In addition to our workshops, we have events to promote unity, and it also gives the men in our program a chance to commune and share their experiences. I was actually purchasing trophies for our annual Dads fishing trip. This year is our third.

We invite fathers and sons, but I also invite children who don’t have a father or a mentor, and give these men the opportunity to be a part of their lives. We even did a Father-Daughter Tea Party, where we had fathers and their daughters come and participate in a dressy tea party event. We had girls aged all the way up to 16. It was sold out. So beautiful. We also have an event called the Barbershop Conversations, where we actually go to a barbershop and have open conversation about the issues pertinent to the community.

HHF: How do your clients initially react to a black woman making such a grand effort to help fathers?

Ajawavi Ajavon: At first, they’re like, “OK, she’s a woman. What does she know about fathers?” (Laughs) I stress that I don’t teach fathers how to be fathers. What I do is teach fathers what mothers and children need and want from an absent father. I’m not gonna teach you how to pull your pants up and be a man, no. I’m teaching the basics of being the better dad for the child. And what is special about my program is that the fathers that have been through my program come back and become teachers and presenters in the program – they give back by mentoring other fathers. Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship, all taught by our own fathers. The only classes I teach are the early stages parenting and the co-parenting classes. The fathers love to encourage each other, “I’m a single father just like you – if I can do it, you can do it.”

HHF: What is the most common problem that you come into contact with in your clientele?

Ajawavi Ajavon: The common issue I have with clients is that they’re not confident enough. They’re not confident enough that they can win their case. They’re not confident of the judicial system. They often have a view that the court is “for the women”. It’s hard but necessary to change this mindset. The core values of my program are integrity, perseverance, accountability, and discipline. I can’t service anyone that isn’t able to adhere to these core values. I don’t allow my clients to play victims. We must be accountable for the portions of this situation which we are at fault. I can’t hold your hand. I can help you, but I can’t do it for you. In our CourtSmart program, we show these guys how to have all paperwork prepared, signed, stamped, dated, and arm them with the confidence backed by our core values, not only are they empowered to do well in court cases, the judicial system often shows respect and favor for their efforts. In fact, the courts refer clients to us because we teach the specifics that the courts want to see – at a cheaper price and more efficiently than many lawyers in these areas.

HHF: This is clearly a needed program across the nation. What is your current jurisdiction? What are your future goals?

Ajawavi Ajavon: We are currently in four states – Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. I could see this everywhere. I want to take my company to every city. I want to get government-funded. Right now, we exist from private donations, along with efforts from my for-profit company, DAB Mediation.

HHF: Thank you so much for this time! We are looking forward to your program spreading like wildfire through the nation!

Ajawavi Ajavon: Thank you so much!

Aja

DAB
Warnell Jones has always been a writer at heart. He often writes about music, love, and society (in no particular order). He is a part of the New Black Writers Program, managed by Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine, to support, nurture and develop the talents of Black American journalists of the future.

HHF Portfolio: Alim Smith, Fine Artist, Delaware

According to  his site, YESTERDAYNITE – Alim Smith says he is devoted to creating art  ‘heavily inspired by entertainment (primarily music and comedy), women and black culture’ and hopes that the ‘presence of black culture in his work serves as a form of self-expression and education’.

 

Check out this fantastic portfolio of his art-work personally selected by Smith for Hip Hop Forum, reckon you might recognize some of these faces … Thank you Alim Smith.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Alim Smith is a Delaware born interdisciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited in American art galleries primarily on the east coast. His artistic process expands beyond a singular medium due to several years of applied studies in Visual Art, Communicative Arts as well as Photography. Smith’s creative exploration stems from experiences and events within his culture, applying a variety of ideas based on his knowledge of self and understanding of others.

alim

To see more of Alim Smith’s work, or buy his art, go to his personal website, YESTERDAYNITEAnd also have a look at this really nice interview with Smith, first published on The Eclectic Society Movement

 

HHF Interview: NTG

Interviewed by Big Momma ‘Miz’
Hip Hop Forum digital magazine’s Big Momma ‘Miz’ meets half of the quintessential Philly ‘power couple’ – NTG – who speaks about her latest release ‘I’m real’ and recent collaborations with indie artists from Russia, Africa, California, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana .. and, of course (bringing it back home) Philadelphia.

NTG2

 

HHF: So how’d ya day go today?

NTG: Good, ya know, always working & promoting, how about yaself?

HHF: That’s wassup, today was a chill day for me. I got a lot of work done yesterday, so we just did some family stuff today.

NTG: That’s always good

HHF: Yup, soooo getting right into it, tell me a little bit about NTG the artist, the MC, the DJ!

NTG: OK, well actually it’s me & my husband, we do our thing together.

HHF: That’s’ wassup!

NTG: Thank you! Yeah it’s important to us, we wanna represent black unity, showing positive examples of couples together, in love, putting out feel good music, and other music representing how I’m feeling at the time, but for the most part we try to keep it positive.

HHF: I like that, I like that, I was watching your latest video ‘I’m Real’, I was kinda digging that part in  the hook, “recognize when you talking to a G” I know that’s wassup!!

NTG: I appreciate that, and thank you for checking it out. I definitely been pushing that jawn hard, its actually in the charts right now, we check up on it every day, because as an artist you want to make sure you stay up on promotion and see where you are as far as digital tracking for radio airplay. Right now, were #35 for independent artist out of the top 100, for any genre. For the majors, were standing at #191, that’s with Drake, Rihanna and all of them, so were pretty proud.

HHF: As you should be, that’s your hard work paying off.

NTG: Yeah we’re trying, it’s a lot, but we’re trying.

HHF: That’s good! Can you tell me what’s message behind the song ‘I’m Real’, what are you trying to say?

NTG: That song is a feel good song, it’s a song that you put on when you tired of everybody putting you down, putting you in a box, you just wanna be like, look, this is who I am; I’m real, I know how to go out and get it if I want it and I can do what I wanna do, having confidence in yourself. Also, it’s just about having fun.

HHF: That’s good, you said the message is for those putting you down, do you encounter that a lot in this industry? If so, how do you deal with it?

NTG: (scoffs) YES! Coming up as a kid, I always considered myself standing up for the underdog, the ones that weren’t picked in the game’s first, or picked for anything, so I’m saying; if I can do it; you can do it. Its ways to feel good about yourself without selling your body and selling your soul. That’s the message that we’re tryna represent.

HHF: Alrighty! So what do you think you are coming to the game with?

NTG: (pauses for a sec) Aww man, it’s a lot. It’s definitely more than just tryna make money off of music. I mean everybody wants to be successful, but my husband and I want to be a good examples. We don’t have children, but I have a little brother, nieces, nephews, & lil cousins, so at the end of the day I want to be able to look in the mirror and feel good about what I’m doing and my message.  A lot of music today is detrimental to our youth, and I hate to see the kids getting caught up in a lot of crap believing what they see and hear is real, and it’s really not, the artists are just doing it for the money and since they don’t know that, they try to go out and emulate what they see in the videos and what not, so we try to put out a different message without the drugs and guns.

HHF: Right, I noticed that. So what would be your message to people about supporting local indies, I like the billboard challenge that you had, how did that go?

NTG: I appreciate it, it’s still going, and it’s ongoing. She laughs and says, a lot of people have been sending me fake pictures, you’d be surprised. Even when you’re giving away, it’s very hard to get support. I would say it’s very important to support local artists, indie artist in general.  When Beyonce drops an album, everybody goes out and grabs it, but if ya cousin, sister or friend drops an album, they’re like whatever, I’ll get the bootleg, it’s important to support the people that you know so they can be successful!

HHF: I always wondered why that was, I see that a lot too. People seem slow to support you on the indie level, but let you blow up and be on that Rihanna & Beyonce status, they’ll swear they was riding with you the whole time.

NTG: Yeah, that’s why a lot of celebrities cut people off because they aren’t grass roots. If you’re not shooting with me in the gym, why should you be chilling on the yacht with me?

HHF: Real talk, that’s right.

NTG: Support!  it can help people that have different messages come out, the reason why we have so many people with the same kind of music is because they are getting support from the industry, and the industry wants to degrade us, especially black people, they want to make it look like the women are loose and the men look like drug dealers, they don’t want you to see the positive side of hip hop, or the positive side of our music period! So you gotta support those local people that are trying to be positive, it’s important.

HHF: I definitely get that, do you do a lot of collaborations with other indie artists?

NTG: Absolutely! We have collaborated with people from Russia, Africa, California, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Philadelphia which is where I’m from, my husband Draw is from Chester, and we’ve collaborated with artists all over, to me it’s the best thing because you can blend your talents together, and build new fans, it’s really a good mix.

HHF: What are some big names that you can say you’ve had the honor to work with?

NTG: O.G. Tweed Cadillac (Penthouse Playas Clique) he was under ruthless records back in the day, he knew Tupac, he does radio now, kinda moved past the rapping part, now helping other artists. We did a performance with one of the pioneers of hiphop; Curtis Blow, and that was really exciting, we actually got to spit with him, everybody was digging it, and from there we kept doing shows and performances trying to build and expand to let people know who we are.

HHF: Off the subject but on the subject, as a black woman what’s your opinion about what’s happening today with the police and our men, as quiet as its kept, the attacks on us as black women are starting to surface now, what’s your opinion if you have one?

NTG: I totally do! It’s hard, because every day you just don’t know what’s going to happen because you don’t feel safe. I don’t’ want to get to deep because I may seem a militant, but the bottom line is; I believe as a race we really have to unify, and if we don’t we’re in so much trouble because it’s obvious these officers aren’t getting any type of punishment for their actions, so the only way we can sustain and survive as a culture is if we start putting the dollars back into our communities, making our own businesses, supporting and uniting with each other otherwise were gonna be extinct. It’s so important to support black businesses and grow our community. Also, when you see another brother or sister, stop being mean and start speaking to one another so we can gain that connection that our ancestors once had before they were invaded. Unity is definitely needed in this culture.

HHF: I agree to the fullest, kill that crabs in the barrel mentality…

 MOB OUT ENTERTAINMENT PRESENTS LADIES FIRST VOL. 2, what’s that about?

NTG: That was a CD that I hosted, shout out to MOB OUT, they have me DJ different cd’s for them, and ladies first is important to me because it’s an all-female mixtape, so it was great to mix it down with females from all over the world. Currently I’m working on a compilation with artists from all 50 states, so everybody can get the same type of exposure and radio play as the major artists but on an indie level. That’s also a goal.

HHF: Tell me about SFR Radio.

NTG: That’s the radio station that I D.J. for, shout out to DJ Ize & the whole crew.  Also, I want to plug in the Fathers Stepin Up Organization, they’re talking about fathers taking care of their kids and doing the right things, so if anybody wants to donate make sure you hit up SFR RADIO 24/7, a very good cause.

HHF: Are there any last words, message or motto that you wanna have on print?

NTG: Power couple; NTG we wanna represent something different and new. We want it to be about real hip hop, not to discount anybody else’s music, but I do think we are over saturated with the same sound, so we want to be that refreshing music that makes people feel good again, for every age and everybody. So make sure y’all stay updated with what’s up with us, it’s so much going on, there’s a show on 8-18-16, Coast 2 Coast Philly edition, performing our new single ‘I’m Real’, it’s on hiphopDX, allhiphop, getyourbuzz, probably over 100 sites. It’s pushing up the charts, grab it off of iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Tidal. Just keep supporting us and support your local artists, and we appreciate all of the support.

HHF: Okay! Well Natalie it was certainly a pleasure talking you!

NTG: Thank you for calling it was a great interview, I like the questions, gave me a chance to talk some.

NTG 1

 

This interview was done by Big Momma “Miz” a North Philly native, out of Harrisburg Pa., She is now the C.O.O for an indie label ILL CRE (Illustrious Creations of Entertainment) where she is also signed as an artist under the moniker “Penelope”. The Hip Hop culture is embedded in her style & personality; she likes to compare her persona to “Shock G & Humpty Hump”, meaning its two sides to the coin. Big Momma Miz handles the biz, while Penelope handles the mic!  Miz is part of the New Black Writers Program, managed by Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine, to support, nurture and develop the talents of Black American journalists of the future.

HHF Interview: Loe Louis, Laswunzout 

Interviewed by Madeleine Byrne
Loe Louis, MC with Detroit’s legendary Laswunzout talks about how the group scored two major label deals, after he travelled to California with 57 cents in his pocket in 1995 and how his group and Slum Village bridged the divides in Motown, while also introducing the world to the Detroit sound. 
This interview originally appeared on madeleinebyrne.com

MB: Your group, Laswanzout was and is really important in terms of the Detroit hip-hop scene, I see you were offered two record deals with major labels in 1995, was that right?

Loe Louis: Yes, it was 1995, we moved to California from Detroit, we stayed there for about a year, and in that time we accumulated two record deals one with Sony Records and one with Cypress Hill’s record label, Immortal records (There was also a demo deal with Loud Records for Laswunzout member GRM Reefa R.I.P)

MB: And it seems that your big hit from that time is ‘Just to be famous’ talk to me about that track and the record it came from.

Loe Louis: We put the record together as we were recording the demo in Michigan, then recorded the song ‘Just to be famous’ for the compilation and that’s how it came about with all the MCs from Laswunzout. It was our first major record release.

MB: I’ve been looking around a bit in terms of research on Laswunzout and seen the comment that ‘this group is essential if you want to understand the hip-hop history of Detroit … (and) essential for understanding the vibe of hip-hop in the city’ what do you think about comments like this?

Lou Louis: (pauses) Accurate, they’re very accurate. When we started out kids were scared to be hip-hop, you know, Detroit was more harder-edged. Some of the kids were scared to be hip-hop, or act a bit different or rap a little different. Other people as well, but we were like at the forefront, if you will, the mascot of it: we shed blood for it, you know.

MB: Talk to me then about the scene in 1995, that’s an amazing year for hip-hop across the US, can you try and recreate what was going on in Detroit then?

Loe Louis: I was out in California in 1995, I left in January and came back in December of 95. We put out ‘Just to be famous’ there were so many things coming out – it was just booming. We still had St Andrews, we had four or five different clubs, it was at its height – at its peak. We were getting a lot of notice from the underground cats, not just the mainstream cats; a lot of groups in Detroit were doing really well in 95, we were starting to get heard.

I just moved to California to chase things, we obtained a record deal. If you look back on it now, we sort of created a bridge between the Detroit underground and California. People would ask (about us) and we’d say we’re from Detroit so it was always Detroit. You know, we’d say we’re like the Last Ones Out, we’d always been talking about the scene, saying we’ve got Slum Village, J Dilla. We was always pushing it – we kind of created a little camaraderie between the LA scene and this scene – one of the members and I moved, he remained out there. I was the first one to go to Cali, caught the bus to Cali with 57 cents in my pocket.

MB: How were the two scenes different?

Loe Louis: To me they wasn’t that different at all. I mean the underground Cali scene and the Detroit scene were so similar: they had crews of MCs like we had, they were into the rap battles … The underground scene was actually similar, not musically but rapwise in terms of what we do – our rap battles were more aggressive in Detroit, compared to Cali, I can say that was one way it was different. There’s was more friendly, ours was for blood.

MB: (laughs)

Loe Louis: That way it was a little different.

MB: That’s how also people often talk about the California production sound, don’t they? It’s a bit sweeter there maybe.

Loe Louis: Yeah, cause you’re in the sunshine. Sunshine all day, feeling good: we’re out here, getting cold, five feet of snow: it’s just a different vibe.

MB: And a different musical history too, I mean we’ll get on to Detroit as a subject in itself a bit later, as that’s what interests me too the way the musical history of Detroit informs the hip-hop as well.

Loe Louis: Right, right. And then a lot of Detroit cats went to Cali too.

MB: Motown did in the end …

Loe Louis: Yeah, they did.

MB: Can you talk to me about when you started out and also the early days in Detroit, say back in the 80s.

Loe Louis: I started rapping when I was six years old, I used to read Dr. Seuss books and tried to make my own rhymes like that. We had a show here called ‘The Scene’ in the 80s and maybe for half or one of the seasons, we did the theme song of the show. We had a little group and did the theme song to ‘The Scene’ so I met a lot of older hip-hop cats from a young age, I was always part of it.

I been there, I witnessed, I was part of it (the early scene) I was born in 1975, and this is 82, or 83 and I was on TV and rapping and doing stuff like that, so I’ve been doing it since I was six years old. I experienced every decade of hip-hop in Detroit.

MB: Did you come from a musical family, did your parents encourage you from that early age?

Loe Louis: My uncle, he sang and my other uncle was a DJ, but it was all around me. My mom and dad got divorced when I was six or seven and my mom took a job in California and I stayed down in California for maybe half a year. That was my first experience of break dancing, so first it was just break dancing, it was in the Hollywood Hills.

I started listening to Run-DMC, listen to the tape/cassette and stop it and try and write down all the lyrics, know all the words before everybody, twisted the words around and everything (laughs). In the early 80s I was in it in it and now when I think back it was Cali too that early influence of the break dancing, you know.

MB: Everyone knows about Dilla and that era of Detroit hip-hop that came later, but we don’t talk or hear much about what happening before that.

Loe Louis: Right, right.

MB: Do you think there are any acts from then that we should be thinking about as well, remembering?

Loe Louis: Cause it was so hard here, you understand? All our music was gangster rap, you wouldn’t hear all the hip-hop: on the radio, gangster, on the streets, gangster. Cats would laugh at you if you were hip-hop, you know what you doing with your hair all twisted up, or you smell like frankincense, you wearing these big-ass pants. You actually get laughed at, it wasn’t cool, it wasn’t cool at all.

Our group was one of the first groups to walk that line, hard people liked us and hip-hop people liked us, but we were hip-hop. Our hip-hop was so cutting edge, we’d do anything. Most hip-hop cats would be like, I’m not rapping to that … We’d make our own beats. We’d do a song acapella, we’d rap with a band, when cats wasn’t even doing that. We was always different like that and that’s where the name Laswunzout came from, because we thought we’d be the ‘Laswunzout’ of everybody (…) We wouldn’t sell ourselves for anything, we would be in our own little section. People would have to adapt to us, we don’t adapt to people.

MB: When talking about the early 80s hip-hop or rap being gangster rap, was it a basic boombap sound,or?

Loe Louis: Yes. It was very basic, it wasn’t lyrical at all. And you had 50 kids do it better, who could do it better, making stuff in their mama’s attic than some of the guys who were making it in their studio, you understand what I’m saying. We had like gangster cats who call themselves gangster rappers, you know, who you would consider hip-hop – like we had Detroit’s Most Wanted who was dope, KAOS & Maestro who was dope. We had 5th Chapter, we had Merciless Amir. We had Smiley, and Awesome Dre, and Dope A Delic, so our hip-hop was a little harder, but some of the harder rappers were lyrical and did have skills on the mic but a lot of them didn’t and that was a battle for a long time on the rap scene, the hard guys and the hip-hop cats.

I think our group, Laswunzout and Slum Village kind of put an end to that, where it was pretty much music after that. We put out a tape called Emixo and then Slum Village put out their Fantastic tape and it was dope, they had hard songs, hip-hop songs, you know it was similar and it made a mess (of what had happened) and every started making music after that. The hard cats and the hip-hop cats started to come together.

MB: Is that true, really it changed after those releases?

Loe Louis: It’s true. It was like a fight, it was like a war; the hip-hop club, St Andrews was right next door to the gangster club, Legend’s. Sometimes we would fight even before we went into the hip-hop club, we’d be fighting we fighting the gangster cats at Legend’s Club, cause they’re talking about us – look at these funny-looking cats, just cause we dressed different, like that didn’t mean we were any less, any less Detroit than they were (laughs).

Couple of nights we got into fights and a lot of these younger cats they don’t even know about it, or they might know about this, that we had to physically fight cats just to be there.

MB: It just surprises me. I can’t imagine these ‘hard cats’ or gangster rappers listening to Slum Village, did they really …

Loe Louis: (interrupts) Everybody, everybody did. It was the music. The music and the vibe, it was something like the Motown sound, there was just something about Dilla’s sound, that everybody … I can remember one night at St Andrews one night when Dilla he played the whole Fantastic album. Everybody was in unison bobbing, music that cuts through everything. It was just the music, everybody: the hard cats, the hip-hop cats, grandmama, grandad

MB: (laughs)

Loe Louis: Everybody was moving their ass to Slum Village. Yes, it was really like that.

MB: So how many records have you released as part of Laswunzout?

Loe Louis: We did hundreds of records, we were a group from 92 to today. It’s like a collection of MCs and groups inside Laswunzout and over the years and we’ve grown but the original seven or eight member group we’ve released over 100 songs, this year I’ll release sessions from my first record in 95 and sessions from my solo record in 97.

MB: You’ve talked about Laswunzout as being a kind of bridge between Detroit and California and one of the key groups bridging the different groups within Detroit itself, what was the key quality of the group that enabled this?

Loe Louis: I can say we standout in the way we battle, we started that. We started the aggressive hip-hop, if you can understand that. When we used to battle we used to battle for your name. If you lost you couldn’t use that name anymore. It was that aggressive battle-rap style dates back to Laswunzout – aggressive, in your face rap style.

MB: What do people mean when they’re talking about the Detroit sound, do you think?

Loe Louis (pauses) The aggressive sound from the lyrics, it’s the aggressiveness. From the music side, it’s getting all the sounds in one pot and making it work, making it work with what you’ve got, that’s what the Detroit sound is – making it work with what you got.

MB: Maybe that represents life in the city as well … The desire to create seems unstoppable.

Loe Louis: It’s in our blood. It’s in our blood. Motown’s grandkids. It’s not the rap, it’s not the hip-hop, it’s the soul. It’s the soul, the hard-working people, how hard it is here, if you make it here and impress the people, everybody’s impressed. It’s in our soul.

MB: Can you talk about your next release, I especially liked the track, ‘Going in’ …

Loe Louis: ‘Going in’ that was one of the first song when we started back up, it was like the second song we recorded, it was just letting cats know we’re back, you should think twice about saying anything about us, or counting us out as irrelevant or whatever cause we’re still around, still doing it.

MB: Is there anything else you’d like to add at the end?

Loe Louis: No, just Detroit stand up. Detroit stand up.

MB: Thanks, I appreciate your time today.

Loe Louis: No problem.

Loe Louis’ next release with Laswunzout will be released through their label Laswunzout Entertainment the end of August, beginning of September.

Paris-based Madeleine Byrne is editor at Hip Hop Forum digital magazine. To read more of her writing on hip-hop (interviews with Marco Polo, Black Milk and more) go to madeleinebyrne.com
 This interview originally appeared in her recent ‘Detroit project’ published at madeleinebyrne.com that featured interviews with Nametag Alexander, BenOfficial label boss, Jay ‘Pauly’ Lovejoy and Nappz Julian, Maj James and Nate OGDetroit. 

HHF Interview: Theotis Joe

Interviewed by Omi Muhammad
Philly MC Theotisjoe sits down with Hip Hop Forum digital magazine to talk about his upcoming ep Ship It Out, his collaboration with a Jamaican artist, Nelson Williams and how he’s passing on his passion for hip hop to the next generation …   

Theotis Joe

HHF: Hey, so tell us about the new ep Ship It Out, what do we have to look forward to; are there any collaborations?

Theotis Joe: Mmhmm, the current ep right now is entitled Ship It Out, the features I have on there,  are DA Lez, he’s on the actual song ‘Ship It Out’, and Nelson Williams, he’s on the song entitled ‘In My Town’. Nelson’s from Jamaica, yeah awesome voice.

Starting with ‘Ship It Out’, DA Lez and I actually recorded it a few years ago but it didn’t really turn out the way I wanted it to, fortunately we met a guy who is a dope producer,  who goes by the name of DJ Lez. He produced the track and when I heard the track I was like yeah, yeah … let’s do that.

I started spittin’ a verse, you know the chorus and what not, set up some studio time and we knocked it out. It became pretty awesome, at first I wasn’t going to put it out, you know, but Lez, he also shot the video as well as produced it. We shot the video in a couple locations here in Philly and a location in Princeton, NJ at a radio station. A friend of mine named Phil Jackson, a radio DJ/ Host up at Princeton University, and also he’s a host on the radio station for the Philadelphia Eagles.

And Nelson Williams (…) I just wanted to recorded a new song. I met Nelson about a year or so ago right, at my brother- in-law’s barber shop. You know choppin’ it up, talking about music and hip hop and stuff like that. I happened to have a couple of beats in my phone and the person that produced the track for ‘In My Town’, his name is Andrew D-Boogie from Virginia and he’s actually a part of Hip Hop Forum. Yeah, you know him?

He produced the track and so I had it in my phone and I pulled it out and I spit the chorus. I said ‘Nelson, hey listen man, can you sing this’? Because I love his voice you know Jamaican sound and what not, and he dove right into it  man and it was awesome. I said  ‘ Yo you the missing link to this puzzle right here’, you know because I was going to do the whole chorus myself.  

But when he spit that part (Theotis Joe starts singing a part of the chorus, Nelson Williams style), I was like yeah, yeah let’s do it, I said ‘you gon’ get on this song with me. We didn’t record the song until about maybe three four months ago. I called him up and I was like are you still interested in doing that song with me? He was like ‘yeah my brotha’, he came through, he was on time, we knocked it out and it became a hit! Everybody that I played it to loved that song so you know, it’s going on the ep. Basically that’s the only collaborations. As far as producers; I produced a few myself, I’m a producer as well, Leslie Howard/DJ Lez he produced a couple, and Andrew/D-Boogie.

HHF: Your love for your city shines through in your music especially in the song ‘In My Town’, what was the intended message behind it?

Theotis Joe: Well you know I see a lot of young brothers out here pretty much being slaughtered in the streets. Young and old, whether it be by law enforcement, by their peers, accidental or something like that, or just jealousy … enemies in the streets. I grew up in quite a few urban areas and I’ve seen drugs and I’ve seen drug paraphernalia pass by and come through at an extensive rate. You know, people being on drugs and stuff like that, fights break out at any moment.

Basically ‘In My Town’ is for every town across the world, not just here in America but across the world. When you hear that song ‘In My Town’, you know it has a combination of hip hop and also reggae vibes in it because I used my man Nelson Williams on that song. He actually took that song over to Jamaica; he was over there for like twelve days and they loved it. So that song is for every town across the world. You know, you can be anywhere and you just might get bust in the head. Look what just happened in Florida, you know hat I mean, in that nightclub; nobody was expecting that, everybody was just having a good time but shit can pop off at any minute. Basically that was the inspiration to the song.

HHF: Do you think its possible for the message to be misunderstood?

Theotis Joe: People can take it how they want to but I think probably maybe … But if you listen to the chorus, listen to the lyrics, its for every town. It’s through my eyes and what I see and what I’m about. How I handle my business, and I will, if I have to. I believe in protecting myself you know, I don’t want to get bust in the head. Don’t run up on me with that bullshit, you’ll be having some problems. Even with the law enforcement, these guys man I don’t know what they’re thinking, thinking they can shoot an innocent young boy down in the street you know, unarmed, on camera, and get away with it.

That shit is wrong, it’s not right. It’s not cool, I read stories … and on the news where you know where they run up in someone’s house and shoot a seven year-old girl, a young boy with a toy gun in the park. They get out shooting, don’t even ask no questions you know what I mean? Twelve year old boy, eleven year old boy just gone. That’s crazy to me, you know that’s why I had to put a mixture of that in there as well because I feel really strongly about that and that’s not cool.

HHF: In the track ‘Ship It Out’ you hint at your work ethic, can you talk a little bit more about that?

Theotis Joe: You get what you put out; you know if you work hard then you’re going to get great results, if you’re lazy  and don’t really want to do nothing then you’re going to be in the same position you were in when you first started. A lot of folks want to sit back and have somebody wait on them hand and foot but it don’t really work like that. You got to get out here and grind, you got to hustle.

Me personally, I produce beats, I build a network of producers across the world. I built my own website. I’m my own manager, I book my own shows. I do my own tours. You just got to be pro-active in your own business and really not wait for anyone.

I’ve always been the type not to want to have someone wait on me hand and foot or wait for somebody to make a move. Like I rock with a live band, I’ve rocked with a few live bands throughout my career. Trying to pull everyone together at one time is hard and a lot of people had their own agendas. Which brought me to the realization that man I need to focus and concentrate on me, I need to build me up instead of trying to bring everybody on board at one time.

My next move is to finish completing my own studio, right now its a pre-production. Right now I really have to rely on going to another person’s facility and it kind of sets me back a bit which is one of the reasons it took me so long to put this album out.

As far as pre-production go I got it going on in the basement, been teaching the kids. I got a five year- old and a seven year-old, by the names of Zion and Jaden, teaching them how to produce and they’re dope. Jaden, man, he just helped me produce a track called “I” and we were going to record it today, you know I was going to have you meet me at the studio.

HHF: So that work ethic that you were talking about, you’re in the process of instilling that in your children. (…) I think it’s so dope to have the children involved in the process, they’re not going to be stuck someday trying to figure out what to do and how they’re going to eat.

Theotis Joe: It starts with the parents, you send them to school everyday for however many hours and then they come home for a couple of hours and go to bed. Nah, it starts at the house, you set it up so when they come back, even if its the weekend, we doing something productive, you know that’s going to be instilled in them that can carry on and pretty much if they need to make money then they got that.

HHF: Did you have any influence in your life like that growing up; what were like some of your musical influences?

Theotis Joe: Yeah well as far as musical influences, I’ve always been into like just music period. I use to listen to a lot of old school, R&B, because my pop he use to play stuff like James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, a lot of blues. Hip Hop of course, I mean I grew up listening to that late 80’s early 90’s hip hop, I wish that could come back.

As for hip hop, I was kinda influenced by NWA, Too Short, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, I grew up on that, Eric B & Rakim, KRS-One, stuff like that, Big Daddy Kane. As it progressed, then it was Wu-Tang, The Pharcyde, man, I could go on forever.

HHF: So about your sound, if I may, you have these hard-hitting lyrics like NWA but with a more laid back delivery. Where does that come from? I think you referred to it in ‘In My Town’, when you said “… sport a fedora, but got a southpaw…”?

theotisjoe

Theotis Joe: “You think I’m soft cuz’ I sport a fedora, hell nah I got a southpaw that’ll rock a hole in your jaw…”. I guess just experience, I love being in rap cyphers. People get together and just spit rhythms and stuff  like that, coming up with new stuff and I even rap to myself while I’m making beats and stuff. I guess it all depends on how the beat makes you feel, I learned to rock with the rhythm and just flow to the track like a cowboy on horseback, just flow with it.

(Theotisjoe begins to nod his head to the background music)

HHF: Oh are we about to start freestyling?

HHF: Where can we find the new Ship It Out ep and also the After Hours album?

Theotis Joe: Starting with the Ship It Out ep, its going to be released on August 16 on cdbaby.com and will be available on I-Tunes, Amazon, Spotify, all the digital download sites across the world, even my website, TheotisJoe.com. After Hours is already available on I-Tunes and Amazon and you can find the music on YouTube, I’m on Soundcloud and ReverbNation.

HHF: Thank you so much for sitting down with Hip Hop Forum digital magazine today.

Theotis Joe: Thank you for having me.

omi 2

West Baltimore native Omi Muhammad is an artist and writer, now based in Philadelphia. To see her work, please go to http://www.urban-gypsy.net/index.html

Omi is part of the New Black Writers Program, managed by Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine, to support, nurture and develop the talents of Black American journalists of the future.

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