Monday 20 December 2010

The Kool Skool's Shucks One Interviews Conscious MC Jasiri X

The Kool Skool's Shucks One Interviews Jasiri X

For years now, day by day, the sinister Corporate mentality has infiltrated this revolutionary form of expression. MC's, turned Studio Gangstas spitting the word "N****a" like an adjective, and where the only use for women in the genre is for pouring Champagne on!!!" Recently, however there has been a subtle shift back towards towards the more, Conscious aspect of Hip-Hop culture, and Pittsburgh based MC Jasri X has worked hard to build within that movement, putting him up as a important, fresh voice in the rebirth of Conscious Hip-Hop.

Jasiri X has taken the position of an upright beach-head against the tide of 10% ignorance programming. Being a maverick is not an easy place to be, stuck between a rock and a hard place, Jasiri X is defying the Status quo, refusing the path of the least resistance, standing firm for his beliefs. Jasiri X has gained much attention for his "This Week With Jasiri X", a critical look at the mainstream media and Current Affairs in a Hip-Hop fashion, co-Produced by
Paradise Gray aka “the Arkitech” of X-Clan. X-Clan was one of the original Conscious groups, known for blending Funk breaks, with thought provoking rhymes, and Pan-African thought. Jasiri X is also working with Paradise Gray on the Grassroots organization 1Hood with Hip-Hop Activist Davey-D.

Jasiri X is also a vocal supporter, and card carrying member of the
Nation Of Islam, sometimes referred to as "The Lost And Found Nation of North America". The N.O.I. has been surrounded by much controversy, though behind the inflammatory headlines, it has undeniably done much to improve the mental, and spiritual state of the African Diaspora worldwide, and has had a enormous influence on the Hip-Hop generation in general.

This industrious MC granted us a few moments of his time to discuss his recent signing to Wandering Worx Music, his many projects, the right wing so-called "
Tea Party" movement, his influences, books, Knowledge of Self, Buffoonery in Rap, and the apparent image Assassination of The Black Male in the media. 2011 is guaranteed to be big year for him, and we were grateful to get an idea of the man behind the X, and what makes the modern Conscious MC.


Shucks One: Ok, lets start with the foundations, what set you on this road, what made you want to use MCing as a way to communicate to the world?

Jasiri X: Gaining Knowledge of self, once that happens you realize the importance of using your talents to uplift and help our community.

Shucks One: Who were the MCs that inspired you as a youth?
Jasiri X: KRS-ONE, Nas, Wu-Tang, Rakim, X-Clan, Slick Rick, Public Enemy, Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Biggie, A Tribe Called Quest, and Mobb Deep.

Shucks One: Many of the people who visit The Kool Skool are true heads who know their history, and are knowledgeable with more obscure artists. Were there any artists that might be a bit forgotten by time, but had a big impact on you, that people might not be familiar with?
Jasiri X: Great Question! One of my favourite albums of all time was “Slaughterhouse” by Masta Ace, I think it’s a classic but it often gets overlooked.

"Slaughterhouse” by Masta Ace
Shucks One: How would you describe your role in the scene? Are you a “Conscious Rapper”, some MCs have problems with that title as it separates them, are you just an MC?

Jasiri X: I’m definitely a Conscious MC I want to be separated from what passes as Hip-Hop nowadays. I think the term is used very narrowly and you could argue on certain levels MCs like Jay Z and 50 Cent can be classified as conscious.

Shucks One: Elders of the Hip-Hop movement I have interviewed discuss the fact that the original concept of Hip-Hop was the importance of Unity, that everyone was involved in the “party”. Where has that Unity gone? Is it still there, and how are you trying to manifest that in a modern age?

Jasiri X: It’s there on some levels, regionally you have seen artists come together and have national success, but what usually gets in the way is money and shady business practices. We’re definitely trying to bring it back but ironically the most difficult community to find unity in is the so called conscious community.

Paradise Gray aka “the Arkitech”

Shucks One: You have been working with Paradise Grey aka “the Arkitech” of the group X-Clan, how did that come about, and how important is it for you to have a working relationship with the Conscious community?

Jasiri X: I found out he lived in Pittsburgh and it blew my mind, like the Arkitech from X-Clan lives down the street? Finally I got a friend to take me to hi studio a few weeks later we drove to the Millions More Movement together and form a strong bond. From there we started organizing in the community before we started doing music together that came later. I think it’s important to have a working relationship with the Conscious community but equally as important to have working relationship with the hood.

Shucks One: How important is it for you to use this art form as a vehicle of change, or at least a forum of discussion.

Jasiri X: It’s why I do music. To do it for any other reason is vanity.

Real Gangstas by Jasiri X

Shucks One: In your song “Real Gangstas”, you point out that we are bombarded by “Hollywood Gangsters”, Rappers throwing up Gang signs and the eons of Gangster characters in films. In your opinion is that by design?

Jasiri X: Absolutely, one a simple level sex and violence sells. On another level the prison industrial complex is the biggest business in America so to make criminal behaviour cool guarantees a full house and more money.

Shucks One: Humans are incredible beings, and are capable of many ways to express our positive aspects. To some people it feels like much of modern popular culture is geared towards only expressing and promoting our lowest attributes, Lust, Violence, Greed and Ego. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Jasiri X: I agree 100%! Everyday we’re being dumbed down by the mainstream so people only seem to think on those low levels. Sadly most people don’t even read anymore. So unless someone teaches you how to express yourself on a higher level how will you learn?

Silent Night (Do Rappers Watch the News?) By Jasiri X

Shucks One: I have been observing recently how many of the “Golden Era” Conscious MCs are becoming more “Thugged Out”, and have toned down their upright message. You get the impression that as the culture digressed in the early 90’s to “40’s & Timbo Music”, then just all out “Gang Set Rappers” and the recent “Swagger Rap” styles, that the Golden Era MCs feel they are trying to find a position to play. I have heard some say they have moved on, or don’t want to be “Party Wreckers”, meaning they are always appear to be the bearers of bad news almost. Is that a cop out in your opinion, or, just a fact of life?

Jasiri X: Both, it’s a cop out because it shows that they never truly believed the message they were presenting in the first place, but the reality is it’s a music business and there is no pension for these rappers. So some are just trying to feed they’re families.

Shucks One: A lot of people are asking where has the fun and intellect gone in Hip-Hop? You watch videos by these middle aged Ice Grilling Platinum Rappers, waving pixilated automatic weapons in their out of town Mansions, filling the trunks of their super cars with duffle bags of freshly minted bank notes and the blatant devolutionary role of women in the culture. What is the purpose of all of this on the grander scale of things? Are you concerned of the effect that this is having on the image of African American men not just in the US, but world wide?

Jasiri X: Of course I think it’s purposeful to use black man as the scapegoat for this falling economy and society. Also to keep the prisons packed because they make so much money from incarcerating our people. Lastly it keeps the black man from never learning his true self and power as the Original Man, Maker, Owner, Cream of the Planet Earth, God of the Universe.

This Week With Jasiri X

Shucks One: One of the things about how you market your music is the utilization of the self-sufficient use of tools of YouTube, etc.
You are particularly famous the weekly online Hip-Hop news program “This Week with Jasiri X”. How did that idea start and how has the feedback been for that project?

Jasiri X: It started because we wanted to first come out with a new song each week, but being an artist with a message we wanted to touch on relevant topics. Secondly we saw how these right wing media outlets were spinning the news to fit their narrative and we thought we can do the same thing accept show the truth. The feedback has been incredible and it definitely has grown much bigger than we ever imagined.

Shucks One: At a time when many artists are trying to become “independent”, you have just signed a deal with
Wandering Worx Music. What are you hopeful that the Record Label can do for you, that you can’t already do for yourself through the independent route?

Jasiri X: I hope they can introduce me to a wider audience especially being they are based in Canada. Plus my album is a lot different from the videos I’ve been doing so it will be interesting to see the response to it.

Shucks One: Obviously like many MCs you do sometimes ride over popular rhythms, but you also have a back catalogue of your own music, who does your impressive beats?

Jasiri X: I have been blessed with some great producer. Rel!g!on is one, he produced my album and is part owner of Wandering Worx. Cynick Lethal produced my most popular videos “What if the Tea Party was Black?” and “Republican Woman” also King Sym who did a majority of Season 2 and a few tracks on Season 3 including are Season Premiere, “The Only Color That Matters in Green”.

Palin Packin'

Shucks One: Your new song and video “Republican Woman” is hilarious! You have been openly critical of the “Tea Party Movement” in the past, how much of this “Movement” is down to racial fear of President Obama and scapegoating, and how much of it is manufactured descent, and if so who benefits?

Jasiri X: I think all of it is manufactured because it’s so well funded by billionaires like the Koch Brothers, who are using these foolish people to push policies that enable them to keep more of their money. It benefits these huge corporations who are making record profits at the expense of the poor people of the earth.

"Revelationz 1"by REL!G!ON

Shucks One: You featured on the producers REL!G!ON album entitled Revelationz 1, which is an excellent album and has a collection of progressive heavy weights like NY Oil, Chuck D (Public Enemy), Planet Asia, Moka Only and others. How did you hook up with REL!G!ON, and do you plan to work with him in the future?

Jasiri X: I was introduced to him by NYOIL. He would email me beats and I would turn them around pretty quickly. He liked quality of my songs and my work ethic so he said let’s do an album, the result is “Ascension” which should drop on Wandering Worx in 2011.

Shucks One: Who would be your dream top 5 Producers you would like to work with?

Jasiri X:
1. DJ Premier
2. Kanye West
3. Just Blaze
4. DJ Toomp
5. Jake One

Shucks One: What about your top 5 MCs you would like to do a collabo with?
Jasiri X:
1. Nas
2. KRS-One
3. Raekwon
4. Immortal Technique
5. Lauryn Hill

Shucks One: I watch a lot of so-called “Knowledge DVDs”, that is documentaries from the conscious angle, but read books from all genres History, Metaphysical, Conscious etc. I was personally concerned when recently someone said in their lecture “I’m doing this knowledge, I’m watching these DVDs”, as in, that is the be all and end all of seeking knowledge. What would you say is the importance of reading books, not just as an MC, but as someone seeking Knowledge of Self?

Jasiri X: You can’t truly gain knowledge of self without reading. Plus I encourage all MCs to read because words are our weapons and the more words you know the better rhyme you can write.

Shucks One: If you could suggest 5 books that your fans should read, what would they be and why?
Jasiri X:
1. Message to the Blackman- Elijah Muhammad has produced some of the greatest leaders we’ve known.

2. The Isis Papers- Dr. Frances Cress Welsing breaks down racism and hidden symbols, you’ll never see the world the same.

3. Dark Alliance –Gary Webb shows how the US government sold crack cocaine to fund an illegal war.

4. The 48 Laws of Power. by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers –helps to see how through deception the powers that be stay in power.

5. In The Name of Allah: A History of Clarence 13X and the Five Percenters - great history lesson by Wakeel Allah.

5a. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter - best book on money I’ve ever read and I majored in Economics.

"JUST A MINSTREL" by JASIRI X Ft. Isada Tariq and Living Proofe.

Shucks One: In your video “Just A Minstrel” you have a snippet of Bamboozeled by Spike Lee. That is an amazing movie, since that movies release, it was almost ignored, and he has almost disappeared. How easy is it for the Major Label system to bury more enlightened, and challenging ideas? As an underground artist, how concerned is it for you that its difficult to reach a wider audience with your art?

Jasiri X: It’s harder now because with Youtube, Facebook and Twitter they don’t have the same amount of control over who hears what. The best way to not be buried by a major label is not to sign with one lol. It’s more difficult to reach a wider audience for me because I don’t have a million dollar budget. That’s why sites like yours are so important to my success.

Shucks One: Maaaaan! T-Pain and Sean Hannity???!!!! That is crazy! Actually painful would be a better way to explain it. For those people who might not be familiar with who Sean Hannity is, can you explain who he is, and why did you feature that clip in the “Just A Minstrel” video?

Jasiri X: Sean Hannity is one of the biggest haters of President Obama and a right wing racist. He has a show on Fox News where he parrots the republican talking points and hates on any black man that has an intelligent opinion.

Shucks One: I have talked to many in the older generations of Hip-Hop, they have discussed the problem that now when you are critical of anyone, or anything in Rap culture you are being a “hater” or suggest that you are jealous of other peoples success. How would you respond to that? Are modern successful Rappers beyond criticism, or does it more express a shift in how we measure modern success?

Jasiri X: I think when people say “You’re a Hater” it means they can’t rationally argue against the truth you’ve spoken. Sadly we do live in a time where we put money over art so if something makes money we feel like if its criticized it because the person is jealous because they’re not making as much. It shows how much the art has been commercialized.

"American History X" By Jasiri X

Shucks One: In your song Universal Ruler, you say; "I wear my X proudly, was lost but God found me", you allude to your receiving of an “X”, and are a very vocal representer of The Nation Of Islam. For you what is the significance of your X, and for those reading this who are not aware of its attributes, what does it mean?

Jasiri X: The significance to me is it represents a body of knowledge that saved my life and totally raised my understanding of the world around me. That’s why my logo is an X with an eye in the middle because getting my X opened my eyes. For those that don’t know it represents the unknown. We don’t know who our ancestors were because they were stolen and made slaves. Their names were taken from them, so when we come into the Nation we learn our last names are those given to our ancestors by the slave master. They’re not our names so we take the X to say our real names are unknown.

Shucks One: How does your role in the N.O.I. fit in with your music? Is it complimentary, or are there challenges, how has your music been received within the Mosque?

Jasiri X: It’s definitely complementary; I don’t know any other spiritual leader that sees Hip-Hop in its proper context other than the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. Wise people see the influence of Hip-Hop and how it can be used as a tool to free the minds of our people.

Minister Louise Farrakhan at the annual N.O.I. Saviour's Day

Shucks One: Obviously in the past there were many rappers sampling Minister Farrakhan and professing the N.O.I., but not so much anymore. In fact you are probably the only N.O.I. MC I can think of at the moment. Why do you feel MCs you see at Savior’s Day and other events not more vocal about their affiliation in their music?

Jasiri X: Real Talk some rappers believe that declaring their affiliation with the Nation of Islam will hurt their career and in my experience that’s simply not the case. I think some get scared and think that if they say they’re with the Nation they’ll lose their white fan base, but I’ve never had an issue with it. I’d be a punk if I was afraid to stand with the the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, when he saved my life.

Shucks One: You appear to be so busy making music, videos etc, how do you find time to fit in your normal life, and is there any advice you could give to up and coming artists?

Jasiri X: I’ve been getting better at managing my time but I would say to any up and coming artist that if you want success in any field your gonna have to be willing to sacrifice time to do that.

Shucks One: When we see the release of “Ascension” the new Jasiri X album and what can we expect?

Jasiri X: Great production and lyricism. Real Hip-Hop!

X Lives

Shucks One: Where do you see yourself in a year from now?

Jasiri X: Hopefully doing the same thing I’m doing now but with a wider audience.

Websites etc:

Many thanks to Big DO for putting us on the Jasiri X. Please check out THE BEST HIP-HOP BLOG hands down


vollsticks said...

Dunno whether I'd call Master Ace an "obscure hip-hop artist"!!! But a great interview nonetheless--let's hope conciousness in hip-hop really does start to make a resurgence.

The Kool Skool said...

Good point! Hahaha! Thanks for the comment.
Happy New Year!