HHF Interview: Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas”

Interviewed by Big Momma ‘Miz’
Hip Hop Forum digital magazine’s Big Momma ‘Miz’ talks politics and music with Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas” from Oakland, CA and also the ‘Homeboy Hotline’ – an organization he set up 16 years ago to help people make a successful transition to life in the community after time spent in jail.

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Hip Hop Forum: First off, tell me this, as a Niner’s fan; how do you feel about Kaepernick’s stand, do you think it’s right on time, or long overdue?

Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas”: It’s long overdue, but it’s also right on time. It took a whole lot of courage to do what he did in that limelight; I’m trying to connect with the brother.

HHF: You know what I thought was kind of strange, all the backlash that he received from it; especially from US (black people). You’d think he have more support giving the current circumstances of the culture and the point he’s making. Not just from other football players, but any of them that’s in the spotlight talking all the time.

Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas”: Well, you know a lot of them are scared to risk their financial stability, and losing endorsements. That’s what makes Muhammad Ali who he was; that’s the difference between a real hero and a person just involved for the entertainment. They not on OUR team, like Jordan & Barkley, they never been on our team. I’m kinda glad when those Unlce Tom’s speak out, it lets you know who standing right beside you and not really with you ya know!

HHF: Most definitely, I heard a brother speaking the other day that I agreed with; all these ma’fuckas were so quick to bash Kaepernick for his actions towards the flag, but not acknowledging the root of it, but then don’t run to the mic or media when bodies are dropping in the street left and right! I felt that was some real coward shit right there.

Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas”: I love my people, and it’s not easy to sacrifice your career for what you believe in and stand for. Even the people that Harriet Tubman went and rescued from the plantation, some of them niggas tried to turn around, she had to pull a pistol on them. It’s always been house-niggas and field-niggas; and a continuation of white supremacy, always will be, it’s part of the mathematics.

HHF: You right, like it’s embedded in our DNA or something. When I watch certain documentaries about our history, or read certain books, I can see the same spirit/actions in our people today!

Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas”: I’ll never apologize for being black, I love my people, I’m blessed to be able to visually grasp a concept and think it would be selfish of me not to use my platform as a way to speak out against the injustices. This country was built by people who committed crimes against other people.

HHF: Ok, tell me about your platform, and what it is that you strive to express to everybody.

Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas”: We use art, film, the music and books as an opportunity to talk about bigotry and racism. Two things that always rub people the wrong way and create a difference of opinion and perspective; is race and religion, so most of our music is surrounded by those two. Hopefully you can find a solution when you get into these conversations of the things that affect people.

HHF: Let’s talk about one of my favorite expressions of opinion and perspective; your song “Bang On ‘Em”.

Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas”: “Bang On ’Em” represents the frustration in America from the Urban community, you got people that’s posing as police officers that are really gang bangers, and most gang bangers eventually get banged on and get their heads busted, people get at’em! That’s what we mean by banging on ‘em.

These people are running around and getting away with murder, and one thing for certain, and two things for sure it’s only one way to deal with bully; its bust the in the head in front of everybody, 9 times out of 10 they leave you alone. So that’s what we mean by “Bang On ‘Em”, they took an oath to disrespect our human rights, and they love doing it, but supposed to be getting paid to protect us.

With technology today, we are now seeing what black people have been talking about for years, and even though it’s on film and tape, the justice system is showing that they are part of this corruption because they continue to find these people “not guilty”, sending them on a paid vacation while the trial is going on.

HHF: Hell yeah!! They not for US, never have been since the beginning. Remember back when they released us from slavery, all uneducated and the only employment experience was in the cotton field, Congress funded a plan of colonization to send our asses back to Africa because they didn’t know what the fuck to do with us, they got scared and wasn’t prepared!

We were an asset as long as we stayed slaves, we’re a liability when set free. Over and over they tried to implement plans to wipe out our race, but had to be politically and socially correct about it. They came up with something called the Eugenics Movement, which is basically black genocide, with the help of Margaret Sanger, who was the force behind “birth control” aka dropping our population. We still see it happening today.

Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas”: That’s why it’s very important that we educate our youth about these situations. My first documentary is called “I just Wanna Ball” about 4 high school girls from a championship basketball team in Oakland. I covered the triumph off the court, overcoming single parent homes, parents that were abusive to drugs and physically, and that breeds a certain element of violence.  

If you remember the movie The Mack it was true, there is two sides to Oakland, the pimping/hoeing and the revolution. There aren’t any strip clubs in Oakland, never have been, so all the young girls are on the corner, human trafficking is big in Oakland; Too $hort didn’t make that up, all that’s real. A lot of these young girls are dealing with sexual predators, young teenage mothers are out on the hoe stroll, and it’s a bad rap on our little sisters.

I’m proud say I’m from the Bay Area, Oakland & San Francisco, so I want to show the true essence of Oakland. It was the sistas; the black women that held the household down when Huey Newton and all them was in the streets, not giving up or giving in and that’s what those 4 sistas represent. They are all in college right now, a lot of people say they want to ball, but these sistas are doing it for real with a real ball. I have another documentary about a fella who picked cotton for 18 years and never got paid; Bishop Henry Williams.

HHF: Interesting!

Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas”: Cotton Pickas is a film series and also our band, were coming out with a new documentary “Gimme Mines Reparations” about that mule & 40 acres; why they killed Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, basically what we gotta do to get these reparations. We use art to create dialogs that instill self-esteem to the youth, so they understand they come from hardworking people that never gave in.

HHF: Dope! Im loving it. When I left you a voicemail, I heard you mention something about the “homeboy hotline”, tell me what that’s about.

Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas”: The “Homeboy Hotline” is an organization that I created in the year 2000 as an opportunity for people to have resources when they get out of any form of incarceration. Most times people want to change, but going around from pillar to post can get frustrating and can lead you back to what got you incarcerated in the first place.

So what I want to do, is find all the resources I can find from housing, resume preparation, job leads, getting records expunged, help with child support, legal aid etc. all on one website and see everything you need right there. We wanna keep the motivation going, and keep that fire lit that people have when they first get out, instead of putting them back into the cycle of what got them down in the first place. That’s what we do! We offer resources.

HHF: Beast! So in 16 years, how has it been progressing?

Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas”:  Its doing pretty good, we started in California, and we got resources in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, our goal is to get nationwide and just build in every state. Actually I was talking to James (HHF’s C.E.O) about putting together a youth empowerment conference, bring out books keep our youth towards the literacy, maybe shoot a film and talk about the business of music.

HHF: Now it’s a whole mob of yall right? I know of Mr. Zo, who else?

Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas”: Yeah, Mr. Zo is on the song with me “Bang On’m” with me, we got a video show in Arkansas that reached Oklahoma, Texas, & Louisiana it’s called ZONE 24 TV the contact is Buddha Ali.

HHF: Ok, so far this has been one of my most interesting interviews; is there a motto you have, or words of advice you want the readers to remember?

Fleetwood of “Da Cotton Pickas”: Nothing works unless you do.

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.
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