Don't Forget About the 'Hood: Rapper/Activist Jasiri X Reflects on His Cross-Country Election Journey
During the long, hard-fought 2012 Election season, Hip-Hop had a soldier named Jasiri X, who was an active participant on the front lines of the battle for the White House.
AllHipHop.com sat down with longtime rapper/activist Jasiri X to capture his final thoughts about the 2012 Election, including a Lupe Fiasco encounter and the crazy, cross-country schedule he maintained. Check out our frank discussion with Jasiri X:
AllHipHop.com: This political season found you all over the place! What were you involved in that had you both speaking and performing in so many cities?
Jasiri X: I was a part of two incredible tours that prominently discussed Hip-Hop and Politics. "Ignite 2012" was sponsored by the League of Young Voters and their executive director, Rob "Biko"Baker. We went to Pittsburgh, Philly, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati with a panel of artists like myself and Dee-1, and prominent bloggers like AllHipHop CEO Chuck Creekmur, The Well Versed founder Andreas Hale, and Bossip senior editor Janee Bolden; plus, author Dream Hampton and Source magazine's editor in chief, Kim Osorio.
"Rap Sessions" is facilitated by author and founder of the Hip-Hop Political Convention, Bakari Kitwana. We also traveled to various cities and college campus, with discussions featuring Chuck D, David Banner, Rosa Clemente, and Dr. James Peterson.
I also performed at the DNC and went to Tuscan, Arizona with The Sound Strike and Culture Strike to learn about the plight of undocumented families. To raise awareness, we recorded an amazing cypher at the U.S./Mexico border.
AllHipHop.com: Wow, that's a lot! Do you have any specific memories you care to share?
Jasiri X: We were doing "Rap Sessions" in Philly, and I got a question about Lupe Fiasco and his recent “Twitter Beef” with comedian DL Hughley and pundit Roland Martin. [It was] over Lupe expressing the fact he was not voting in the presidential election. I made it clear that Lupe was talking about not voting in the national election, but he’s been very involved locally in Chicago politics.
The people in the audience were tweeting about our discussion, and Lupe responded, "I'll be there in five minutes." He happened to be in Philly that day promoting his new album. Not only did he show up, but he came onstage and eloquently defended his position. The next day, I did a "Stop and Frisk" rally in New York City, and the person who introduced me for my performance was none other than Talib Kweli!
AllHipHop.com: You've got to love social media. You never know who is watching! That's dope! OK, Jasiri, now that the election is over, and the campaigning is all done, what do you think are the most important lessons to take away from this voting season?
Jasiri X: Around $2 billion was spent on this campaign, and we've pretty much got the same group of people governing the country, so I think we have to look seriously at the tremendous influence big money has over politics. I also think it's very clear that the demographics of this country have been changed forever. The question is, can we use this new-found political power to hold our elected officials accountable and see real change in our communities?
AllHipHop.com: Well said. Your music has been known to carry a political message from time to time. Which one song of yours, out of all of them, would you hope that President Obama would have on his iPod to remind of a specific cause or situation?
Jasiri X: Definitely my new song, "Don't Forget About The 'Hood".
AllHipHop.com: Finally, in a single word, can you sum up how you're feeling about the election coming to a close?
Jasiri X: Accountability.
Keep up with Jasiri X and his year-round fight for the people on his official website, JasiriX.com, on Twitter (@jasiri_x), and on Facebook (JasiriXOfficial).