Knowledge is not something that can be bought, but rather attained. Over the years, Hip-Hop music has grown from a young cry of escaping the ghetto, to the booming voice of million-dollar-a-year money making industry. Through this growth and progression, the question, Has Hip-Hop forgotten where it came? has become a major issue.
In honor of Hip-Hop Appreciation Week, AllHipHop.com spoke with a true educator and survivor of the game. While Public Enemy seems to be the only Conscious Rap group to get any major media reverence, let us never forget the tracks laid by Wise Intelligent and The Poor Righteous Teachers.
Wise talks about his soon to be released solo album, Wise Intelligent is the Talented Timothy Taylor. He also comments on the lacking mental-nutritition in todays Hip-Hop diet. Are we sending the wrong messages? To know you future is to know your past, so listen closely as present knowledge from the past brings it back.
AllHipHop.com: What have you been up to since the last Poor Righteous Teachers?
Wise Intelligent: Ive been working on m independent project. I also went back to school. The teacher became a student again. Ive also been working on a program called Intelligent Muzik, in Trenton. It was established to help facilitate the youth in the music industry. We teach them how to get a leg up in the business; how to own their talents.
AllHipHop.com: For all of those that dont know, what is the name of your new album?
Wise: Wise Intelligent is the Talented Timothy Taylor. Its the first period in a five CD box-set that Im working on called, Back to School. Its what Hip-Hop is seriously lacking right now. The album will be out in middle to late August.
AllHipHop.com: Whos on it? Will Culture Freedom make an appearance?
Wise: No, hes not going to appear on it. Theres a new vibe it than what I have previously done. I believe in always bringing something new to the table. Thats why Ive got some cats from around the way doing production on it. Its a crew called The Havknotz. Its P.J., Masada and Madlibs little brother, Oh No.
AllHipHop.com: Whats up with the Timothy Taylor reference?
Wise: With Wise Intelligent as The Talented Timothy Taylor, its more personal. Its real. In the past, I had never really spoke about my personal life on a record, especially on this level. I wrestled with a lot of demons. [The album] speaks about the talent within me. Im taking it back to my talents, the old school. It was a time when Hip-Hop was about talent and not marketing.
AllHipHop.com: Do you feel that Hip-Hop is sending the right messages to todays youth?
Wise: All kids see today is materialism. You didnt shoot your way out of the ghetto, you rhymed your way out. You made a transition. Now you do big deals, youre a business man. They should help and guide the youth. Rappers and athletes make a lot of money. Everybody wants to be, King of the Negroes. The youth thinks that rims on an Escalades important. They should be focused on teaching the youth how they became successful.
AllHipHop.com: Do you feel that hip-hop that speaks consciously about the Pro-Black Movement? If so, who are some of the artists, still holding it down?
Wise: Definitely. You have the Roots, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, and Dead Prez to name a few. I dont know what theyre doing out side of the music to reach out to the community, but thats my ignorance. Its like Prez said, Its bigger than Hip-Hop. A lot of artists could be doing more than what they presently are. Ive lived in just about every shelter there is in Trenton. I make it my mission to help the youth that are presently in the same situation.
AllHipHop.com: It is more than just Hip-Hop, its about society and the world.
Wise: Bush aint doing s**t, but cutting programs. Todays rappers need to give back. Its like a net at the bottom of the ocean. When it gets pulled up, a few fish wiggle free, but the ones that get caught the youth are thirsty for knowledge. Its sad because the inner-city introduces things like drug dealing first. Again, poverty and ignorance - they need to be eradicated.
AllHipHop.com: I agree, but what are the pros and cons of the music?
Wise: Within the music, there are pros and cons. The pros are that Hip-Hop has sparked an entrepreneurial spirit in the youth. They have become more aware of the value of their culture. At first it was only the wealthy White business men seeing the profits. Now the youth are taking it upon themselves to learn and progress. Thats good.
The cons are the negative images being shown. Right now theyre at an all-time high - no, I take that back, an all time low. Theyre bringing the culture down. Little girls are trying to, pop it like its hot. Just today I saw a little girl wearing a pair of daisy dukes and a pair of f**k me boots. They dont know. A lot of kids dont have parents. A lot of rappers came up the same way. We are their parents, and were their influence. An artist can make whatever they want, but they and their companies need to find a proper way to market it. If you want to make stripper music to be played in the club, then do so, but right now its getting going to the kids. They need to listen to the more positive. Listening is an art. It unlocks doors. It needs to be about the realization of knowledge and the practice of observing. We need the proper people to lead and teach.
AllHipHop.com: This is so true. Right now youre dropping some serious science.
Wise: Yeah, its ghetto political! As the first inner-city Black youth, we must combat poverty and ignorance against society as a whole. Im anti-ignorance and anti-poverty. Where I come from, the youth live 50% bellow the poverty level. They dont have a chance and that affects me personally. Whether its friends, friends kids, [or whoever], we need to help them before the gangs get to them. Here, programs are cut. The youth work hard, but have so little. My personal mission is to guide the youth in the right direction. That is what Poor Righteous Teachers was about.
AllHipHop.com: You once said, You dont have to sin to be successful Expand.
Wise: Down here in Ghetto America, we do the wrong things in how we come up. I argue that we can do the right things, but people need to know how to do them. We need people who will do the right things and lead. Some people say, Conscious Rap doesnt sell. Public Enemy and The Fugees sold millions. They didnt kill anyone or talk a bunch of mess like, My gun clap. You dont have to sin to be successful, is about getting knowledge. What you build will become your reality. We are the product of our thoughts. If all you see is poverty and destruction, then thats all youll be. See past your block or hood and succeed.
AllHipHop.com: Why isnt the conscious movement still considered important?
Wise: Its because of the industry being commercial. Its capitalism, the American way. Its like my block in the early eighties, originally every one sold weed. When crack hit, everyone followed. When conscious Hip-Hop came out, all the labels started practicing capitalism. Its sad to say, but PRT was signed on it. Every label wanted a conscious rapper. They thought artists like PRT, X-Clan, Boogie Down Productions, and Public Enemy were a gimmick. When Gangsta Rap came out, all the labels followed. If the industry dealt with conscious rappers then it would get played and everyone would jump on.
Markets figure that they can sell anything. Liquor, cell phones, jewelry, its all become a consumer oriented world. I believe the term, globalization [which] comes into play here. Its the new religion of the world. Product placement has become Hip-Hops new logo. Its good for a lot of artists and companies. Hell, even video girls are getting awards and movie roles for shaking their asses on camera for five minutes. Marketers feel that they cant get through to people on a conscious level. Education is the last thing on the youths minds. Kids drop out because they never learn to equate education with success. Theyre escape is not to deal with theses issues. Right now, all the bling-bling diamonds are popular. What most people dont know is that kids in South Africa lose their hands and other limbs just so that over here, people can look good. I want to teach the youth about putting the proper aim on the common enemy. The war against the poor has been waged for a minute. We need to teach the youth how to wage war back. Thats revolutionary to me.
AllHipHop.com: How did Poor Righteous Teachers deal in the aftermath of that?
Wise: We were just babies in the game back then. We were still learning, youre always learning. We parted with our management and requested to be released from our label. Profile Records became a graveyard for a bunch of rappers. We understood that Rock this Funky Joint was a party song. And we wouldnt have been put on if it wasnt for that. It got us in the door, but we became frustrated with the label. Personally, I cant work like that. We understood it for what it was and learned from the situation.
AllHipHop.com: If you cant wake up in the morning and know why you do what you do, then its time to find something new. Where can fans find old music and videos? Few DJs or VJs pay proper respect.
Wise: Nowhere at the moment, but were going to re-issue the whole catalog of CDs and videos in the future. People can find out more information on my website, Intelligentmuzik.com
AllHipHop.com: Who do you feel about Flavor Flavs new appearance in the media? Do you feel that it tarnishes his past accomplishments with Public Enemy?
Wise: No, he was always doing it. Hes the reason why Public Enemy was accepted by White America. He had a comical personality. Chuck brought the message, and Flav took the edge off, so they didnt put fear into the White public as much.
AllHipHop.com: Whats the one thing that is not being addressed in Hip-Hop that should?
Wise: Wow, theres so much that needs to be addressed. Theres a lot of issues dealing with the community that really hit home for me. Black people make up 12% of Americas population. We also make up 48-49% of AIDS cases. 80% of first timers in the penal system are illiterate. This mirrors the same number of third graders that cant read. Nowadays, they build prisons based on that statistic. If 100 third graders fail, then 100 prisons are built. TWA, Victoria Secret and Chevron all out-source prisoners to make their products. Its one giant p**sy and everyone is f**king it except the ones getting f**ked over. This should all be discussed in Hip-Hop. We need someone more than Bill Cosby. We need someone to represent us.