I think Micahchu & The Shapes made my favorite music in 2009.
With their album Jewellry, I think the levels of talent and creativity are equal in their music. Producer Matthew Herbert does an excellent job of organizing and filtering truly infectious songwriting.
Runner-up goes to Shafiq Husayn of Sa Ra Creative Partners who released his debut solo album Shafiq Husayn En’ A-Free-Ka
Again, the talent and creativity allow a lot of space and freedom. Shafiq Husayn and his ensemble take the listener on a journey through the expansion of themes familiar to fans of Earth Wind & Fire, Sun Ra & the late great veteran J Dilla.
I’m not a “list” kind of a person. I think they’re nasty habits and ultimately nothing more than cliff notes for lazy people (constantly proven by the Billboard magazine paradigm).
But for the person who’s gonna maybe check out John Mayer’s new one…seriously,fuck that dude. That guy is Bruce Hornsby crossed with Jonny Lang dressed up as James Taylor for Halloween. Enough with the tepid safe music. Enough with cute over substance. Basta!
I appreciate creativity with a dash of cleverness over a barrel of cheekiness with a thimble full of creativity all day,everyday.
The first decade of music in the 21st Century has been largely driven by teenagers. White Teenagers. White teenagers males who love the audio safari Hip Hop provides as well as the exclusive lame fest that is Young Country. White teenage girls who gorge on sassy fairy God Bitches, twee sirens,and ultra choreographed divas (and those are just the “Boy Bands” LOL-ed. note)
I applaud Britain’s Got Talent contestant Susan Boyle for throwing down the gauntlet for passionate, talented ugly people. She’s sold a million albums of what is certainly grade A dentist office music in one week, and is nearly 50 years old and looks like Bjork’s grandmother. Nice voice, I can tune it out because she’s not selling the usual package of insincerity galore. Celine Dion in comparison makes me anxious because she seems to want nothing more musically than to be Barbara Streisand.
So yeah…as craptastic as the Pop pool gets. It’s nice to see technology expanding the playing field and almost nullifying the music industry as we know it.
Understand this…they are stuck trying to pimp that horse schitt to the masses. Don’t get sucked in. Put kites on your ears and sail around the internet simply listening to the sounds off the beaten path. They are getting louder.
I must say, this dude Ishmael Butler is one of those frustrating favorites of mine in the Hip Hop/Music game. He’s on that trailblazing schitt that most (artist or fan) don’t find very exciting these days.
He’s following the beat of his own drummer, which only solidifies all the myth-making his career choices have been.
“Men lie,women lie,numbers don’t“- Jay-Z
That one line sums up 21st Century Hip Hop and puts a bow on top of it doesn’t it?
All these lonely trap stars, where do they all come from?
Well, no matter how one feels about Butler’s last known solo project “Cherrywine”…that schitt takes balls.
The Digable reunion tours? I can see the compromising clearly now that the missing link has been revealed.
Here’s a great story from Seattle’s indie publication “The Stranger”:
The Rise of Afro-Eccentricism
Hiphop Innovators Shabazz Palaces and the Cult of Anti-Personality
by DAVE SEGAL
With a Grammy earned 15 years ago and two classic albums recorded with the Digable Planets trio, this smooth, smart rapper will have trouble maintaining his mystique. But it’s admirable that he’s decided to let his art stand or fall on its own (prodigious) merits when he could easily cash in on his sterling legacy.
Let’s call this Central District MC/ producer Shabazz, because it’s a cool-sounding handle and, according to the man behind it, “It pulls from a lot of different cultures. Under that name, you can fuck with a lot of styles of music and it will all fit nicely. It’s a tribute to everything you can associate with that name—all the obvious stuff, and also some stuff that only us in the group know about.”
Right out of the gate, Shabazz Palaces’ two cryptically and immaculately packaged CDs have garnered awestruck responses, including a rousing recommendation from Philadelphia DJ/musician King Britt, who worked with Digable in the ’90s. “Shabazz Palaces is definitely some of [his] best work to date,” Britt asserts. “He has always been a master of combining the languages of music, politics, and words into a forward-thinking, boundary-leaping, groundbreaking sonic explosion. Shabazz does just that. He always keeps me inspired, and he proves that it’s quality over quantity. Malcolm [X] would be proud!”
Other listeners have chimed in with similarly breathless praise. Commenting on Line Out, The Stranger‘s music blog, Wazhma Samizay of Retail Therapy (a Capitol Hill shop that sells the EPs) observed, “The music is visceral; the lyrics are raw and poetic. Reminds you of a time when hiphop had meaning and talked about life and love.” Also on Line Out, London’s “Bro O” raved, “It is vicious, way ahead of the time and yet capturing the zeitgeist perfectly… It’s sweet, but like a gunshot. No bullets, just stars.”
I had similar tingly feelings upon hearing the two seven-track discs that surfaced in May like rare flowers. Hipped to Shabazz Palaces by shoegaze-rock icon/ producer supreme Erik Blood, who mixed the music at MRX Studios, I scooped up the releases and immersed myself in their otherness.
On the black CD featuring the patch with a saber stitched onto it—neither CD has a proper album title—elements rarely if ever heard on hiphop releases predominate. “Hottabatch” sounds like the most laid-back dancehall track ever. “Find Out” contains free-jazz horns and some ill bass frequencies reminiscent of the WordSound label. “Sparkles,” Shabazz’s most Digable track, is as tranquil and exotically eerie as Jon Hassell. “Chuch” possesses a forbidding quasi-dubstep beat and a loop of amazingly mesmerizing chants by north African women, which Shabazz found on a DVD. In a voice more clenched and tense than he revealed in Digable, Shabazz spits: “What’s up with this bullshit that they be tryin’ to sell us/what the fuck do we look like/cornyass niggas eating Jell-O in a crowd at a open mic/hail to the north/intelligent relevant/lotta survivors want to hear something elegant/you’ve reheated your beats and rhymes so many times, nigga, that’s why I pine eloquent.”
The brown CD with the patch featuring minarets on it continues the unconventional, stripped-down production techniques. “32 Leaves” combines an eldritch, Goblinesque keyboard motif and hard gun-clap beat. “My Mac Yawns” addresses “all my niggas home from corrections” to some woozy electro. The slow, menacing creep of “4 Shadows” includes deep, deadpan guest verses from his CD homie Silk, who appears on two other cuts. On “Blastit,” Shabazz’s Zimbabwean friend Tendai (aka Boy Wonder) plays an mbira (thumb piano), whose melody of delicate, unspeakable beauty creates a sublime friction when contrasted with the blunt, lackadaisical funk beats. The only other artists to whom you can really compare Shabazz Palaces are Clipse (for the minimal production), Zimbabwe Legit (emphatic delivery), and Company Flow (odd instrumental flavors).
Shabazz Palaces have been germinating for about four years. Shabazz has been mainly working with local producer/musician Bubba Jones and Blood, with the music composed of samples and live playing in a 50-50 ratio. When asked what chain of events led to Shabazz Palaces’ formation, Shabazz laughs and pauses significantly.
“Well, I’m always inspired by what’s going on in life and stuff like that,” he tentatively begins. “Just looking at stuff going on in the current music industry and trying to figure out what I could do, where I fit in. I’m not really a cerebral music-maker. I find myself in musical situations, in moods, in feelings; the songs that come out of that are what they are. I don’t give much thought to where I stand, what my sound is, how I should try to describe it. That’s why there aren’t any credits on the album, because I don’t think that stuff matters. The only stuff that matters is the songs that end up happening and the people that they end up touching.”
Shabazz Palaces have a very distinctive sound, so it would be interesting to know how it developed. Shabazz wishes he could discuss it, “But I think it’s a little out of my range to be able to tie down where it came from, because it came from sooooo many influences over sooooo long of a period of time. It’s nothing specific or mapped out sonically. I tried to go with my feelings—being in love with my life, with my kids, with my girl, with music and sounds—just as much Soulja Boy as Miles Davis. Also, visual art and film, good and bad times, losses and gains. All that kind of stuff is in there.
“I guess it’s a reaction,” he continues. “But it’s also my attempt at just making actions and being spontaneous, letting me and the musicians I work with go from our instincts to the product without filtering it through too much other shit.”
When pressed for examples, Shabazz says, “Take a film like City of God—when they shoot the little kid in the foot. The way that kid acted, it seemed so real. And I’m thinking, in that situation, what did they convey or impart to that kid to get him to understand what they needed him to do in that scene? As you start to think about the layers of beauty and determination and spontaneity around that single moment in that film, that’s inspirational enough for me to create 10 or 15 little songs.”
Shabazz Palaces are currently working on their third release and plan to play out when it’s completed in August or September. They’re talking to a few labels (none local) and will have substantial distribution and a publicist very soon. The mystique will fade, but Shabazz is too levelheaded and industry-savvy to get ground down by the machine. He’s going to do this on his terms or not at all, which is great news for heads hungering for that Afro-eccentric sonic shock. That being said, of all Shabazz Palaces’ many highlights, “Blastit,” which is possibly the most beautiful track I’ve ever heard, rises highest.
“People I know and friends, they seem to like that one a lot,” Shabazz replies. “That’s how African stuff is. That’s my thing: Those musicians very rarely are pursuing knowledge of the instrument to seek any kind of material gain from it. I feel that that joy, that selflessness, comes through in the music and makes it a happier experience. It’s like giving, instead of creating something to hopefully succeed in something.”
Very dope. Can’t wait.
I’ve been pretty M.I.A. around these parts. And if you asked me why it would be because 2009 has been an amazing year (both pro & con) thus far.
There are still plenty of inflammatory ding-dongs that make each and every news cycle a health hazard for thinking mammals…but maybe my focus is changing.
Maybe it was the beauty brought about by global warming this year… San Francisco was the perfect backdrop for a summer of fun, with it’s unseasonably warm nights and sunny (fog free) days. For the first time in my life I found myself thinking like a real estate agent (i.e., Pilgrims).
Maybe it was being caught up in the throes of laughing it up with friends & family.
See how it works…I came back to apologize for neglecting this place (my fortress of Appreciation & Vexation) and I end up sharing how thankful I am for being able to walk more and more of this beautiful Earth each year…at the top of the American High Holiday season even (Though Thanksgiving is nothing more than “Black Friday Eve” to the hordes of “good little boys & good little girls”).
I’m already excited about 2010. I promise not to pit it into competition with 2009.
Hope you all have a pleasant and relaxing Thanksgiving.
Let’s do something soon.
O.K. class, show of hands…who here would like to give this woman, the right to shut the fuck up?
I’m glad someone caught this numbskull on video being a world class schitt-stain on humanity. The fact that she really thinks she has “a point”, is the scary part of this clip.
This, I can assure you is the kind of catty lippy schitt that I associate mainly with “assholes“… who are very delusional.
If she listened to this man, instead of reacting to the fact that he has an accent, an opposing viewpoint, and is Jewish,she might gain some perspective.
Instead she’d rather remove him from the rational point he’s making, and emotionally draw him into the very irrational bullschitt she represents thoroughly.
Well, Pamela Pilger (that schitt-stain of a woman in the video), You are what’s wrong with America.
Your idea of this country is based in and of the same divisive/über-capitalist fuckery that has driven this country into a confusing standstill flecked with bubbles that boom and burst, at the will of whom?
Whomever it is, you Pamela Pilger…want to be on their team so bad, you think you can taste it. Unfortunately it’s only the bile from your reptillian guts mixed with your Fox News cud, and that pinch of SKOAL ® stuck in your flappy jowls.
Understand folks, file this under “Illusion of Inclusion 101“, or “The Motherfucking Okey-Doke“.
Ma Kettle here is afraid that :
a.) The Niggers are taking over
b.) The Niggers are gonna get all the good seats & special favors that she (not even her wack ass husband with 3 jobs) is entitled to.
c.)It’s her tax money, Mexicans will buy exotic seat covers with it and drive around high on Oxy-Contin that is rightfully hers.
d.)Illegal Mexicans,Niggers & Liberals just want to have anal sex with you and your family during the inevitable home invasion.
e.)The sky is falling and it’s Obama’s fault.
I’d like her to explain this tedious and bloody Iraq war with my brother (U.S. Army,preparing for his 4th tour of duty).
I’d like her to explain to me why Wall Street got bailed out with taxpayer money, and why the U.S. government should step in and suggest and assist the Automakers in Detroit should try harder to make a car that can actually compete with import autos.
I’d like her to explain where the fuck all the jobs went? And who’s big idea was that? Obama? Liberals? Jew-media? Welfare Mothers (the lazy black ones)?
Then I need her to take a sock in the face from that Israeli guy (she had balls when she said that stupid ass “Hitler” schitt…he should be allowed to kick her in the ovaries).
What we know/What to do about it:
There are a lot of stupid bastards out there,strength in numbers is a fallacy (when dealing with stupid bastards). Stupid bastards only act out of fear/greed.
One rational thinking human being with a soul can elevate up to 20 stupid bastards into functionality,recidivism rates are high,but we must be dilligent if we are to have any reform.
This is bigger than partisan politics,race,religion or creed. This is the real us vs. them, and we must maintain focus…can you imagine how stupid these stupid bastards will be if they don’t manage to kill us all?
Sing my song,sister….
As long as I’ve waited for a Georgia Anne Muldrow type of artist, a young L.A. woman who has quietly been ushering in a true post Hip-Hop sound that is equal parts free expression and equal parts of the same stuff that gave Roger Troutman “more bounce to the ounce” I found myself on the fence until I learned a few things about Georgia Anne Muldrow and ultimately myself.
For one, in the words of the ancients “Why waste time on the microphone?” , I totally admire this woman’s guts & soul…anyone who can make you think of Chaka Khan one second then shift that schitt into Albert Ayler-ville without batting an eyelash or apologizing, is not wasting time on the mic, she’s blazing a trail that is serving up increments of relief from a generation of cooing, over-sexed, commodified moto-bots.
She wrote a song called “Master Teacher” that resonated out of her soul and mysteriously (like without her knowledge) onto Erykah Badu’s 2008 release New Amerykah.
And again this year The Ecstatic MC Mighty Mos Def himself swagger jacked & karaoke’d himself into Georgia’s soulful matrix by adding himself to her song “Roses”, and adding it to his album.
Eugene McDaniels is on line one for you Georgia, I hope the publishing and points has righted those wrongs for you. After reading this interview I’m making a point to spend some time with your latest release Umsindo.
Interview by Chris Ziegler (mobbed from the LA Record.com)
Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dudley Perkins left Stones Throw to do their own work and to teach and meditate in the mountains. They prepare now to release a solo album each—both produced by Georgia—on the same day this month on SomeOthaShip, and they speak from their home in Inglewood about war, love, power and Michael Jackson.
How did you two make so much music all at once?
Soul power, man. Yeah. That much. Soul power, man.
Do you think this is the most creative time in your life?
I’d have to say so. It feels great. I feel like I’m the most creative because I have a new baby. It doesn’t really get better than that. That’s the best creation ever. I’m very inspired and it means a lot to me to be a relevant artist in the sense that there’s a lot of things going on that need to be addressed—that’s what keeps me inspired and that’s what keeps me going. I never run out of material.
What’s something that inspires you instantly? That always makes you want to work?
The children. Children and war and how they have to handle the effects of that. I think about this planet. I think about my people. I think about Africa. I think about a lot of different things and I never run out of things to say about it. I think about developing minds and that’s my main thing—developing minds. They have to pay for our mistakes. The things that we make with each other—like how to maintain clean water and air and things like that—they have to find a way to pay for that. They have to find a way to fix it. We’re trying to find a way to fix it. Every generation we hope is the one that’s going to fix it. But it takes more than just one generation to fix the problems and it’s a serious thing that stays in my mind because I’m not like an engineer or something like that—I have to go to the fullest capacity that I have in the chemistry of music and that’s what I do. That’s my inspiration. I don’t do a lot of night club gigs anymore because I’m home but I use that to my advantage and I have a lot of records out.
Some people have said your work is overwhelming—shouldn’t music be overwhelming sometimes?
I guess that’s better than being underwhelmed. I don’t know. I think that sometimes that some people are so keyed in and pre-programmed for a certain thing. Pre-programmed as far as tuning and all that stuff—I have a more indigenous approach to music. I do it digitally, but it’s a very much indigenous approach. I don’t deal with European tuning—sometimes that can jolt somebody’s system because they are so into it. And now in the realm of autotune—it’s very colonial right now as far as the attempt to wipe out people’s unique soul expressions. It’s like a new slave age in terms of androids and that kind of sound and that kind of mentality. As a result you’ve got something that’s called ‘business music.’
What do you mean by that?
Business music—music that you do your business to. People are doing business by making a certain sound that corporations can support, instead of the corporations supporting the music that needs to be out. So you have a switcheroo there. It’s only a matter of time before people would start sounding like androids because after a while they actually will be androids. I’ve even seen that. I’ve seen a robot that can play ‘Giant Steps’ and that kind of scared me. I’m serious. But I do more organic stuff. I don’t think it’s really that hard to think the way that I think.
What is the way that you think?
I think it’s just to think with love and not to think from the self—being selfish. Music is something that can affect people all over the world and can always make people dance—why are you not going to use that for something positive? You’re going to use it to go over your own shit. And that’s not what I’m about because as an African woman I understand my duty to music—I’m the inventor of music. That’s my role on this planet. I’m born into that role. My heartbeat is the very first instrument of the human experience that anyone gets to hear. So it’s like I have to be true—that’s the way that I think. I have to be true to that model and I’m not saying you should think like me but to me logical. It’s natural. I don’t know how to explain it—it’s actually insane. It’s actually the lack of logic. Pop culture—I think it’s anti-human. I think it’s anti-Earth. I think you have to forsake your own self and the more you can forsake your own self, the more you will be successful. It’s crazy because that natural talent, that’s what the people will see—but you have to forsake so much of yourself to get there. Think about Michael Jackson—like a pure angel. A beautiful, beautiful musician. A unique talent. But look how much he had to forsake himself in order to be who he is.
Was there a time when you didn’t feel this way?
Absolutely. Growing up—you know what I’m saying? There came a time when I was really not impressed or thankful for the life I had and I was going on autopilot and not taking my life seriously because it was like—‘Don’t take it so serious!’ And then you end up not taking life seriously and it becomes a joke. Well, I didn’t get here by myself. I wasn’t a joke in my mother’s womb. These trees that grow, they’re not a joke—we need them. These birds that fly around, it’s not no joke—the clouds ain’t no joke. Then how come when it comes to somebody making music that actually has the capacity to heal themselves first and then the world community—why does it have to be a joke? That’s what makes me upset. I see black music being co-opted as a joke and everything is half-serious when we are dying right now—and we are dying as far as truly dying as well. We are having a cultural death—a physical death and I’m seeing that. And I’m seeing how these people just play into the hands of these leeches that will profit off of our death so that they can co-author it and call it whatever they want. When I think about pop culture and I see what pop is, it’s like—what is pop? It ain’t nothing. It’s R&B, rock ‘n’ roll—all of our black expressions get co-opted into pop and we can’t be there. It gets co-opted so that we can’t be there. Heavy metal. Heavy metal ain’t nothing but Parliament. You see that—the boots, the black, the growling—all that is Parliament. It’s funk. But they have to turn it into heavy metal so that people can be counted out and so that people can be put in a dangerous situation if they choose to support certain events. It’s very much ignorant what’s happening right now. And that’s my inspiration. I have to be the solution to that because it doesn’t make no sense.
How do you and Dudley hope to stand against this?
I don’t know. I think we have to have a deep love to tolerate it in the way that we do but seriously, the power of this world is going to have to be returned to the right place. If it’s not then we are not going to have nothing. The powers of this world have to be returned to the people who care for it. It can’t be to the people who can hurt the most people—it has to be to the people who are interested in its flourishment. It can’t be how it is and that’s what my music is for—it’s for returning the power to the people who love this planet truly. And it’s for the planet itself because I really do know the power of sound. I really do understand the power of music. I’ve understood it since I was a child. I just knew in my heart that you have power and when utilized correctly people can actually break through barriers that are making it hard to love their people. Because right now I look at society—I’m looking at somebody taking out their trash right now, Like we have trash cans? What the hell? I know that seems little but we really do think that we throw out the trash and it disappears. We really think that shit. And the methods of disposal are from the 1700s—just put it in a pile. They got mountains in Europe that ain’t really mountains. They got mountains in Europe that are just trash. There’s a whole long way for us to go. And if I just thought about things that are minute—because that’s minute of a level—I’m not even talking about how there is a war going on against black people all over the world all the time. People don’t understand that. They try to talk about black history and this and that but nobody notices how everyone is getting cheated out of the true history of this planet by not knowing about our true contributions to this planet. Everybody gets cheated by not knowing our contributions and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to contribute because if I just sit down and really look at what’s happening and think about it, I’ll really feel very unhappy because I’ll get all this input but I won’t get any solution. There won’t be any output for the input I’m receiving—there’s no conversion. That’s why I make so much music all the time—because that’s how deep I feel this. And I don’t feel like it’s going to be over ‘til it’s over and really that’s the truth. People get caught up in some spook that’s gonna save us all or end it all and it’s not going to be neither! It’s gonna be us and it’s us only. There’s no other shit happening. So if I can write a song that says ‘I pray one day you’ll find everything within’ and that’s all I have to say, then that’s what I do. I really have devoted my life—because I know we are in a war—to be a warrior. It’s on a sonic level. It’s a sonic war and I’m playing a part in it. It’s like when they said what they said with Uncle Jam’s Army and George Clinton—rescue dance music from the blahs, and right now the blahs are winning. The blahs are running the whole ship.
How did that happen?
I think it happened because it’s all military. I think when people think outside of that, it becomes confusing. But when you understand the history of oppression even on a surface level, it becomes very clear as to why somebody would want to rob music and rob the power of music and invest in destructive music. You will see why. People kill each other. People love money—it becomes their god. People talk about ‘secular’ meaning devoid of religion but I really think the opposite—I think secularism is a hidden religion and I think that if you say, ‘I’m a secular person and I go to the club and I go to the club and I wear my high heels and I put this weave in and I only listen to songs that talk about throwing up on people I hate or whatever to be cool and hip and following this trend or whatever…’ and I don’t know what’s happening right now in L.A. but it’s very strange. That’s a religion—that’s a hidden religion. Maybelline is a church because that’s coming from ritual make-up—they call it your morning ritual. They call it that. When you put on your make-up, that’s the same as putting on ceremonial paint, so a lot of my sisters over here are getting caught up in the ceremony so they gotta have music to go with that ritual and then you have the club. Where they talk about disunity and hurting somebody else—talking about how this man is no good and all this other stuff and then we wonder why, ‘Oh, I can’t find no man!’ It’s like—what? We don’t know how powerful we are. And how these cell phones—the crystals in these cell phones are mimicking what our brain has in it. Radios are mimicking our body structure. So we’re behind right now because we’re talking on a cell phone.
Jon Langford from the Mekons quotes John Peel saying ‘society dehumanizes from the top down.’ Does that happen within music too?
You know, I understand that. We’re copying the first niggers who was. The first niggers like Andrew Jackson—you know what I’m saying? That was the first nigger. George Washington and all them. Whoever sold the first slave boat to take my people away from where they belong. Yeah, we’re copying them—anybody who thinks that we can take other people’s hard-earned resources and call it theirs and be happy about it is a definite copycat of the forefathers of this nation. I absolutely agree with that. And I believe that change starts from the bottom up—ain’t no change happening from the top down. I feel like it’s déjà vu—Jesse Jackson or something—ain’t no change happening like that and everybody knows it. It’s really not popping like that—change has to happen—this shit has gotta get burned down. And that’s straight up. Shit’s gotta get burned down. The White House has gotta be turned—it’s called the ‘White’ House, you know? Shit is messed up.
Do you think you and Dudley are starting that?
We aren’t the only ones—there’s a lot of people who ain’t even musicians who dedicate their lives to our liberation. There’s a whole lot of people with different philosophies on that—we’re just trying to find the best solution so that we can just slide into a world without ignorance. Ignoring the beauty of our natural faculties—there’s a lot of different people. We didn’t start it—we’re just a part of it. A lot of the times it goes over peoples heads so I don’t know—if they ain’t ready, they ain’t ready, but I can give a hell about somebody who isn’t ready. My music is for the people who’ve already been living through some type of form of rebellion. My music—you can crip walk to it. Somebody who is already living as a warrior. I’m not asking you to change yourself, I’m not asking you to be rich, I’m not asking you to be mad—all we’re asking is to turn within and get the movement popping from the inside out so that we can just really come together and unite. Just clean up house on the inside so that everybody can unite. That’s the whole thing—it’s a process man and I think the process has already taken too damn long.
How do you feel you fit into music in L.A.?
There’s a lot of people with me—I can’t just say L.A. L.A. is like so small—I’m from L.A., but I know L.A. is only going to go as far as it can go. But who I am excited about in L.A. are the people who keep it real with their expressions. I know people who are trying to do this ‘80s bullshit and all that—I’m talking about the people who keep it real with who they are and their expressions and their timeless expressions and know what time it is. They have a revolutionary standpoint on where it is they’re coming from. Because really that’s all we have to talk about, really. I’m trying but I feel it so much—man, it’s just this is what needs to happen, and it feels like sometimes artists get caught up in the ego structure of a review how somebody else thinks of their music—but they know where they were at when they did it. There definitely need to be more who are not afraid to be themselves and try out new territory.
You said pop is a joke—do you think people joke because they’re afraid? What are they afraid of?
They’re afraid of being alone. That’s why people are afraid of dying—it’s not the death, it’s being alone.
But isn’t music the exact way to not be alone?
That’s the thing—fear don’t make no sense. There’s no logic in fear. That’s why it doesn’t work.
How have you learned to deal with fear in your own life?
By woman-ing up.
I read at one point you almost gave up making music—why?
It’s like I said earlier. When you don’t understand why you are feeling certain feelings and there is all this stuff that you can’t describe but you know that you’re being attacked—you can’t really describe it in words. I didn’t really understand where I was in this country—really getting back to the fundamentals of how I got here. That’s what I was feeling—why am I here? Muldrow ain’t my original name—why it ain’t my name? That’s not my name, Chris—that’s not my name! That’s somebody else’s name. You know what Muldrow means? It means mulled row—like mulled—like a row of dirt—that’s my name and that’s what I was feeling. That’s why I felt like I didn’t want to do music any more. That’s why I felt like that. Because I know that I’m not going to be this industry standard—I’m too real for that and I can’t do that and I can’t put on a wig and sell out like that. I can’t do that and that’s what it’s all about. That’s the whole thing.
So if it’s war, it’s a decision to be a warrior?
And some people decide against it when they’re faced with that and they have to pay. You have to pay with your life either way—you’re either going to have courage or fear and I felt like, ‘You know what? I’m not afraid of nothing—I’m not afraid of dying so I’d rather live my life doing something good.’ Inspiring somebody along the way and dedicating my life to my people—I can’t lose.
Did it change your music when you became a mother?
Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It really did. Becoming pregnant, the ancestors revealed a lot of things to me. I was in that portal for a long time between life and so-called death and understanding what life is all about. I got some motherhood humanity classes from the ancestors and it showed me what’s really important and what to keep my focus on. I think my stances became stronger and much more—not serious, but urgent.
Why? Do you feel time is running out?
No. I don’t think there is no time. I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe in time—time is fake. Time is perceived but it’s not true. You know—the sun goes up, the sun goes down. I don’t know about running out of time. I know that things need to start and things need to end. I know about what don’t work and what do.
What works and what doesn’t?
I think what works is being who you truly are without hurting another person. I think it’s the lack of priorities that’s hurting us. Our priorities are not straight. We’re distracted by money and survival but the whole thing about it is if you know who you are it’s much easier to survive. Because there’s a war, okay? There’s a war going on.
Dudley said these albums are striking back—what do they strike back against?
All European structures of power—all of ‘em. All European styles of authority—all European styles of philosophy—because it’s too new to trust. It’s too new in the game to trust and the simple fact that it’s too modern to trust—not to say that new things aren’t good, but it’s something that does not have experience. Philosophy needs a little bit more testing time. But we live in a place where that is touted as the most ancient form of knowledge, the European mind—and it’s not. It’s actually the most disoriented frame for knowledge because it’s so young. They hit you with that Greek shit like that’s the first thing that ever was. They hit you with the renaissance and classical music and all of this—don’t you know they was painting like that in West Africa way before that? And that’s just to say—no bragging rights—that’s just an example of the minds that were already beyond that. We’re striking out against this whole whitenization—we’re striking out against that because it’s not the way. It’s not the way. If it was the way, I’d be gung ho. But it’s not the way. I see Franklin Roosevelt in the magazine and they’re talking about what Barack can learn from him. I’m like, ‘Homie, he put people in concentration camps—nothing can be learned from him. He was a racist bigoted pork-eating fiend.’ But no, no—he’s one of our greats. ‘His blue eyes penetrated.’ I’m like, ‘No, he didn’t know. He had no reference for knowing and for true knowledge. He could process information but he had no knowing.’ And that’s what I’m saying—we’re striking out against that. Because you know what? We can create something else. We just have to make a decision that something else can be created and that’s what’s going on with my folks right now is that we don’t believe in that. We don’t believe in somebody who knows less than us. I’m not saying that every black person knows everything—no. There’s a whole lot of negroes here that think more white than a white person—there are those people and I cry for them, too, but really honestly, it does come down to that. Because the bombs in Afghanistan, that’s on me. I know who lives there—I’ve done my research. I know who lives in Saudi Arabia. I know the Middle East is just a scam. That’s all Africa. And they just keep bombing—they keep bombing me. That’s me. So that’s what I’m saying. I’ve been to China and I saw myself there, you know? That’s what I’m going up against. Up against this individual fearful mentality. We don’t have to think like that—we have more equipment than that and now everybody got a little something. Everybody got a little something now. There’s a way to not think that way no more. So my music—I know that my music influences thinking. The thought is what creates the blade—I’m attacking it at that finer level. That’s what I’m seeking to do. If I don’t do that, I would have wasted my life expression. And really honestly, I have reincarnated too many times into slavery—I’m tired of it. Ever since I was little, I have had flashbacks of my past life experiences. When I was five years old picking cotton? I don’t think so. That’s not fun. That’s not fun and I’ve had to go through that and sometimes that would get so overwhelming you would want to give up. And yeah, you would want to give up but you know what? Not for long because it’s going drive you insane if you know what you’re really supposed to be doing. So that’s the whole thing—a lot of people don’t really have that reality to deal with but they’re not supposed to. They have to deal with another reality and I’d rather have those flashbacks because then I know that I can, perhaps, provide a solution instead of perpetuating the confusion, and that’s real, you know? Us putting so much faith in people who don’t believe in God, but then they believe in science—in European science. They calling stuff AIDS—they don’t know what it is. They call something a cold—they don’t know what it is but we listen to these people like they have the answer. They don’t know what the flu is—they just want to give you a shot. They want to shoot you. They want to shoot you so they can run tests on you and kill you. Under their supervision. These hospitals be assassinating people and they’ve been doing it for a really long time but until it happens to somebody like Justin Timberlake, they’re not going to be investigated—it’s really not. They gonna be looking at it like, ‘Oh you know…’ But that’s real—they’ve been killing my people for a long time. They’ve experimented on my people a long time. They’re like vampire style. My uncle—they talked about somebody coming every week to collect his blood, and I’m like, ‘He’s out the hospital—you guys are vampires in style? You guys are doing this in style?’ Can you believe Viagra has our brain matter in it? I’m not kidding you. You ever heard of melatonin—the pills? That comes from melanin which comes in a strong concentration in black people—that’s us in there. That’s cannibalism that’s happening right there. But then people don’t want to know the truth because then they have to make a decision.
What’s the decision? Courage or fear?
What you said. Frontin’. Being real or being fake.
So what is the way out? Do you have hope for any solution?
Absolutely. If there was no hope then I’d just have a gun and just shoot everybody—I really would. If there wasn’t no hope, I’d just kill ‘em. I’d drop a bomb on Europe if there wasn’t hope.
What do you hope for?
I don’t have no hope. It’s not like… hope. I have confidence. I’m optimistic. I have confidence in our equipment—in our natural equipment to be reclaimed. And I don’t think everybody is going to make it. So that gives me hope, too—because if it was everyone, then I’d really be sad about it. It ain’t everybody who is going to make it. It’s going to be the people who committed their lives to living in the true spiritual laws that govern this universe. To live in those laws—to live in the truth. And they’ll be fine and that’s the deal. I’m just tired of this dimension repeating itself—it’s getting real old and played out. I’m really not trying to be in this position like this. I’m really not. And the way that I get out of it is this music because I know it can activate another one.
Does your music help others get out?
Shoot man, you know what? As hardheaded as I am, I’m sure it would. I’m not sure who it is, but if it do then that’s what it’s meant to do because I decided to get myself out of it. I got a long way to go but that’s how I get out of it right there.
You did an interview where you said it’s not about who inspires you—it’s about who you inspire. Do you have any sense of who you’ve inspired?
The way I see it is—I don’t dwell in that realm too long so that I can keep working. That’s the deal with me. I’m inspired by a whole bunch of things. There’s certain people who have used the music in a way that is magnificent and it makes me know that it’s possible what I’m doing. So you got your Miriam Makebas—there are people who are out there who done dedicated their life to making it real and even though in their lifetime they are not able to witness the complete shift, they have invested their energy so that it could be that much closer. And that’s all that I’m trying to do there. My whole flip on it is that in my lifetime, I’m trying to witness some results—I’m trying to witness that. I’m trying to manifest myself and work my magic so I can have that. This reality is so paper-thin to me and that’s what frustrates me is that it is so paper-thin—and I have been able to witness that. Especially being pregnant. This reality is so thin.
If you break through, what’s on the other side?
Someone said John Coltrane’s music contains ‘the things by which the soul of man survives.’ Does that connect to any of this?
I love Coltrane. Coltrane helped me. I cried to Coltrane, getting the stuff out. Alice and John. Coltrane inspired me on that making something out of nothing thing. I feel like he’s a school of thought, too—because people loved him and hated him at the same time and the more that he embraced his true essence, the more people turned away from him and I saw that. For me that’s what keeps me inspired—that’s what I tell Dudley about that. I say, ‘Man, if they hated on Coltrane…’ That’s like they want to say about Jesus or whatever but I don’t buy into that.
Why do people react to art with that kind of hate?
Because we’re in a war. We’re in a war right now. That’s why. You know Bob Dylan got away with murder—do you see what I’m saying? And that’s not to take away from what he got but he got away with murder. If Coltrane can’t live—a straight-up musician during the same time frame—and Dylan gets away with murder? That’s what I’m talking about. We’re in a war and the powers that think they have that, they utilize it. They don’t think with love—they’re not thinking like that when they get up in the morning. They thinking of winning and proving to the world that they have competent thought processes, but they don’t. And that’s the whole thing—that’s why dedicating the music to the ancestors and expressing the music in an African way can be kryptonite in itself because it can wake up the sleeping giant in people who had a normal idea and can’t identify it with words. I’m not looking for people who have learned the dictionary. I’m looking for people who have gone through it and have battle scars and understand how crucial this time is. That’s what it’s about—it’s not about all that other stuff. I’m sorry. Fools putting on some sunglasses and thinking that it’s a rap—I can’t do that. My heart’s too big. I’ll trust anybody—I’ll love anybody. That’s what makes me mad because now I know I’m in a war and I can’t love the way I wanted to and that makes me very upset. So that’s why I dedicate this music to love—that’s why I dedicate this music because that’s something that I can definitely devote myself to. But it makes me upset that everyone that I meet do not have the best intentions for me that I have for them. And it makes me upset that a group of people who front themselves as the administration of health associations—the FDA—it makes me sad that they are not seeking to heal. They are seeking to kill people. It hurts my heart that the board of education is not seeking to create scholars—they’re seeking to create prisoners and soldiers. That hurts me because I want to trust. I want to be able to not have to have second thoughts. I want people to be real and to love each other—that’s what I want. But I know it ain’t going to happen unless some other things take place. There’s going to have to be some other things such as people saying, ‘Cut the shit—stop being like that to me!’ It’s going to have to take stuff like that. It’s going to take Africans on the continent to give people the boot—Zimbabwe is catching a lot of flak for that but they are one of the only countries who are actually taking the measures to do what needs to be done. You know what? Cecil Rhodes wasn’t born in Zimbabwe. He wasn’t born there. He took and took and raped and raped and hurt and hurt. They got to go. Go home. They don’t know where home is? Well, gotta figure it out. I’m sure they’ll figure it out. I’m not from here. I’m trying to figure out where home is but I got a basic understanding of it because I cared about those who helped me to exist so they tell me where I’m from. Those are my ancestors and that’s what the album is dedicated to. Dudley’s album is dedicated to Africa. His is dedicated to Africa and mine’s dedicated to Africa and African awareness. I don’t ever think that it’s been different, no matter what I was doing—I didn’t go with the okie doke. I didn’t have the language to explain it but I knew that I couldn’t go with the okie doke. I would rather do it the underground-railroad style instead of just being a mainstream thing because I definitely had the option to do so. I definitely still have the option to do so. But I would rather create a separate infrastructure. I’d rather create another infrastructure that is pure with artists that care. I’d rather have my own operation. At the end of the day we need to see that if we’re not willing to learn from each other and we’re not willing to learn, then we’ll just impose one reality that’s incomplete. So perhaps that reality doesn’t need to exist anymore—that’s what I’m about. Because I got too many children running around my house to just do my Nat Turner, I can’t do that. I’d be gone too quick. And there wouldn’t be enough of ‘em gone! So what I would rather do is instead of take some out, I want to save some. I want to save some of my own so we can all arrive to a conclusion that works out better. You look at the Sphinx, man—the shit has water marks on it. Different sea levels. The shit is older than what they say. Really, really old. We were old when Greece was being born—we were old. That was the cousin next door or whatever. Trying to bring some civilization—but for real, if we don’t understand that element—if we don’t understand that crucial element of knowing the true story of this planet’s people—if we don’t understand how important that is to study it for ourselves and not rely on any institution to do this—then it’s going to be very tough. There’s a lot of people who don’t know how to read. So what I’m trying to supply is something for them. Something for people who cannot read. Something for the people who do not read but feel very deeply about this planet and they will know by the tone of my voice what I’m talking about because I have devoted my every cell to this.
Do you think they’ll find you?
Yeah—one by one. And if they don’t find me the sound will keep reverberating. That’s why it’s so precious—it never stops. It changes in form but it doesn’t stop. So through the wind through the air, through the trees, through the homes, all of that—I’m counting on all of that, I’m using all of that. And that’s what I’m going off of that and you know people say what they want to say about that, but I know it’s true. What I want to say is—take some time to meditate. Take some time to listen to that inner voice. Stop following all this shit. Stop following somebody else and thinking that it’s cool to be frivolous and petty, man. Stop thinking that it’s cool that you are what you wear. That’s really sad. Stop thinking you are how you’re perceived. You are not what you’re perceived as. I’m way bigger than that. And I think that people understood that we had a higher quality of artist. Everything is like a damn picture—everything is an image. I’m just tired of seeing people go out like that because I know that there is so many people who have dedicated their lives and died broke so that we can know a better truth and don’t think that we gotta die broke. I don’t think that’s how it has to end. But if you ain’t gonna be broke, don’t waste it on showing somebody how much you got. It’s supposed to be devoted to your nation—it’s supposed to be sent to Africa. You send your ass to Africa. I’m talking to black people. You send your ass to Africa and be there. Not sending a little mail envelope on behalf of some Christian foundation. I could keep going but yeah—I think that’s all.