Despite a climate that’s not accepting of thinking man’s hip-hop,
he remain. Even though his views are contrary to the establishment, he remains.
AllHipHop.com took a second chance at picking the human revolution’s brain to
see what makes him, him and what allows him to remain.
Why do you think we’re still “pimping” and “blinging,”
when, as you point out, brown people all over the world are suffering and fighting?
What happened to hip hop’s political voice? It used to have one.
a multi-pronged reason why it doesn’t exist. First of all, hip hop artists,
I’ve noticed, tend to gravitate toward what’s rewarded. And right
now – I’ve said it in other interviews and I’ll say it again
– white corporations dictate Black culture to Black people. They’re
the ones picking the artists that they choose to give deals to, and they decide
who gets exposure. They’re the ones who reward particular type of behavior,
and there are a lot of artists who have adjusted to meet those criteria. If
all artists banded together and said we’re going to move away from the
negativity, then they wouldn’t be able to control it.
ALLHIPHOP: Do you
think there will ever be that coming together of hip hop? Things are cyclical,
so there has to be some sort of civil rights struggle that comes about at some
point. Will hip hop be the voice and culture to lead us through that?
definitely possible for hip hop to have a role in bringing that about, but there
has to be balance in hip hop and right now, there isn’t. People are beginning
to revolt – file-sharing has taken a hit out of the industry because people
don’t respect the industry anymore. They don’t respect the music,
and they don’t respect a lot of today’s artists. Those artists don’t
even respect it. They don’t respect their listeners.
Nine times out
of 10, when there’s an opportunity to respect commerce over art, they choose
commerce – that’s the classic struggle between art and commerce. The
commerce is always going to win, because corporations have control of the outlets
and methods in which artists get exposed. I think that it will take a widespread
rejection of a lot of what’s currently being offered to serve as that catalyst,
and to have people gravitate towards it and realize that there are really artists
out there who have more to offer and bring to the table than the gutter hip
hop or “rap,” I should say, that’s on the radio. The sad part
is, because hip hop is now part of pop culture, people’s introduction to
it comes only from video outlets and commercial radio, so there’s going
to be an obvious disconnect there. But I think that if there’s enough ground
level support for alternatives, then they’ll eventually see the light of
you that alternative?
like to be one of the alternatives. And I treat it seriously because nothing
you an angry guy? Are people afraid of you?
Paris: I mean,
I’m human. I go through the same range of emotions as other people. Do
I walk around with a scowl on my face everyday? No, not unless I happen to be
angry that particular day. But I do have a lot of anger and frustration. I just
choose to pour it out on records.
you have that platform. And you’re an investment banker, you speak intelligently,
lead your own label and website, and have a college education. Wouldn’t
some say that already puts you a step ahead of all those brothers who are in
the trenches daily?
in the community. I’m from the community – we all are from the same
place. But I don’t choose to stay and dwell within the negativity. If you’re
engaged in the community, then you’re still a part of it.
album, Sonic Jihad, comes out on September 23. It’s not a traditional,
mainstream sort of album, so how do you plan for its release? It doesn’t
seem like the type you’d have an album release party for… [laughter]
Paris: No, well,
the sad truth is, in this day and age, it’s not a traditional album. But
I recall an era in hip hop when it was, and the gangster mentality in hip hop
was the odd man out. Again, this is a balance-providing release. There has to
be somebody that’s out who’s willing to hold the torch.
ALLHIPHOP: So what
are you doing to push the album?
Paris: Record pools
and radio stations, college radio, gift services, the website. AND, I have Dead
Prez, Public Enemy, Kam and Capleton all on the record.
ALLHIPHOP: Do you
difficult right now because I have to judge the climate. The incendiary nature
of this record is enough to make me pause before I commit to going somewhere,
to say I’m going to be at a certain place in public and follow through
on that. I have to see what’s happening with it, because there were a lot
of people who wrote me initially with threats and stuff like “watch my
back” and “don’t release that record.” I know I have to
approach this from a ‘no fear’ perspective – when I’m speaking
truth, I’m fearless. But by the same token, I’m not going to do anything
that’s stupid, so I want to gauge how it’s going to be. A lot of times
there will be functions or rallies, places where progressive people congregate,
and I’ll just show up and get on the mic. I prefer that type of approach
as opposed to being somewhere and making myself an easy target. Right now –
it’s looking like the early part of next year – I’d like to hit
the road with Dead Prez and Public Enemy, and hopefully Kam can be a part of
that package. But to just put a cohesive, progressive Black tour together…
gonna be powerful. I look forward to seeing some like that come together.
Paris: You and
me both! [laughter] So, we’ll see how it goes. And then I want to be involved
in the production on PE’s next record, some writing for them, and maybe
even provide a home for Dead Prez. As you may know, their project is currently
without a home. I just talked with Styx via e-mail yesterday, and they’re
entertaining labels like Bad Boy and what not. But I don’t really know
how good of a situation that’s going to be for them. Even with Bad Boy,
they’re not the ultimate shot-callers – Bad Boy’s parent company
is that your goal as well, to bring on like-minded people?
Paris: There you
go, there you go! I refuse to put my money on anything that is contrary to what
I believe in, or that is contrary to the well-being of us.
who else are you checking for these days – other than the artists featured
on your album?
Paris: Not a lot.
can’t name anybody?
Nope, not off the head. I mean there are people like Zion-Eye and Blackalicious
– these are all people who are definitely not on the mainstream hip hop
radar, so, no. Hopefully one day. I’ve been listening to a lot of music
that’s not hip hop. Because hip hop… I shouldn’t even call it
hip hop anymore. I’m just gonna call it “rap” from now on. It
focuses on a fleeting demographic, and white corporations want nothing more
than the teenaged girl’s dollar. The majority of the promotion is on them.
As people get older and mature, they want that music to reflect where they’re
coming from. I don’t know too many 30-year-old men or women who can relate
to music marketed for 14-year-old girls. You see what I’m sayin’?
Rap is constantly
being forced to reinvent itself for a temporary audience. Rap is ignorant today,
and that’s a very dangerous situation, because in our community, in the
Black community, life imitates art. If you get no direction, and there are no
artists’ mentorship programs to lend guidance, when there’s nothing
to nurture the art form of hip hop, then all the negativity shines through.
Especially when companies reward it. And that hurts our communities.
your message, rightly or wrongly, is different and refreshing. And that’s
always good, so we thank you for what you’re doing.
Paris: And I appreciate
you guys even providing me a voice, seriously. Nothing is guaranteed because
this is a labor of love, like I said. A lot time, energy and resources have
gone into putting this together in the way it’s presented. And you can
tell just from the packaging that no expense was spared. We’re just going
for the gusto! And there are radio versions of the entire album available…
I don’t want that to be the reason that people can’t get behind it.
But I thank you guys for the voice.