Great Article On Mos Def in USA Today 

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This article was titled “Mos Def is most thoughtful as he focuses on myriad projects” by USA Today - Mos Def can’t suppress sheer delight over the exotic strains, heady beats and slurry flow of politically charged poetry on his new album, in stores Tuesday. That joy does not explain its title, “The Ecstatic.” Such logic would be too tidy for hip-hop’s cerebral agitator. “The Ecstatic” borrows its name from Victor LaValle’s 2002 darkly comic novel about an obese college dropout sinking into mental illness as his colorful Queens, N.Y., family copes.
“The term was used in the 17th and 18th centuries to describe people who were either mad or divinely inspired and consequently dismissed as kooks,” Mos Def says. “Something about that just resonated with me.

“It’s also a type of devotional energy, an impossible dream that becomes reality but is discredited before it’s realized. The airplane, a nutty idea. The telephone, the Internet. People who envisioned those were considered radical or extreme.”

“I love my decks,” he says. “It’s a great way to discover a neighborhood and keep fit. And it’s really Zen.”

A jumble of contradictions, he reads The Economist and relishes crass VH1 dating show For the Love of Ray J. Introduced to Islam by his father, he’s a Muslim who sprinkles his speech with “mashallah” (”what Allah wills”) but clings to Christian tenets.

“I’ve never felt like Islam was a discontinuation of Christianity,” says the twice-married father of seven. “I very much believe in Jesus. It was a natural progression. I come from a family of very devout, praying people. That idea of peace and love toward humanity shouldn’t be nationalistic or denominational. It should be a chief concern for all mankind.”

A subdued presence
There’s no posse when the rapper arrives poolside at the tony Sunset Marquis hotel on a recent sunny afternoon. His 5-year-old son, Fidel, changes out of a Spider-Man costume for a dip, insisting that Dad join him. Mos Def strips to his swim trunks and dives in, coaxing the boy to jump. A firm no. He gently lowers him in, but it’s too chilly, so Fidel is quickly swaddled into a towel and Mos Def swims a few laps.

Settling in for a chat, Mos Def, a vegetarian, offers to order hummus or guacamole for Fidel, who prefers to curl up in his father’s lap.

Over the next hour, Mos Def quotes John Lennon, Socrates, a Ghanaian proverb and his refrigerator magnet (”Peace is not the absence of trouble”). He talks about how his writing and rhyming skills have sharpened since the single Universal Magnetic put him on the rap map 12 years ago.

“The aim is high,” Mos Def says of his fourth studio effort and first since 2006’s True Magic, which was released without promotion in a clear case sans cover art. Conversely, three singles have preceded the arrival of The Ecstatic, which draws on the talent of Madlib, Slick Rick, Chad Hugo, Scarface, Talib Kweli and K’Naan. “I don’t want to waste anyone’s time or money. I want to give people some truth and positive heart lift. The quality, clarity and ambition are there. There are no discotheque anthems. Um, no disrespect to discotheque.”

The unusually self-effacing and modest Brooklyn-based rapper, born Dante Terrell Smith, rose through hip-hop’s underground in the late ’90s, breaking ranks with the commercially powerful gangsta idiom to revive the socially conscious approach popularized earlier by Arrested Development, De La Soul and KRS-One.

His 1998 collaboration with Kweli, the hip-hoppers’ self-titled Black Star, and 1999 solo debut Black on Both Sides, proved hugely influential.

His rap output grew erratic as his focus shifted to Hollywood, where he’s built an impressive résumé, earning praise alongside A-listers in such mainstream fare as The Italian Job, The Woodsman and Monster’s Ball. He co-starred with Bruce Willis in 16 Blocks and with Jack Black in Be Kind Rewind and earned Emmy and Golden Globe nods for HBO’s Something the Lord Made. He portrayed Chuck Berry in Cadillac Records.

Mos Def, who embraces the Hollywood establishment but rejects the music industry machinery, “is kind of an enigma, and he’s been on an unconventional path,” says Elliott Wilson, founder of hip-hop news site and author of the upcoming Jay-Z biography, Soul of a Hustler. “I haven’t loved everything he put out, and there’s sometimes a lack of dedication to music when he uses other avenues to express himself. He’s talented but hasn’t completely lived up to his promise in hip-hop.

“He’s a very intelligent dude, smarter than the average rapper,” Wilson says. “He still has a core following that’s excited to see where he’s going musically. Kanye West was a product of Black Star, and that school of socially aware, uncompromising rap also influenced T.I. and Lil Wayne.”

Not afraid to speak his mind
Don’t underestimate Mos Def’s “everyday Joe” appeal, says Billboard senior editor Gail Mitchell.

“There’s an earnestness and authenticity that translate to his rapping and movie roles,” she says. “He’s an underground favorite who’s never tried to be anyone but who he is. And with everything that’s going on in the world, there’s a climate for his music now. Folks want realness, not doomsday stuff, but messages that make you think. Even Eminem is getting introspective.”

A frequent firecracker on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, Mos Def doesn’t duck soapboxes. He carps with wit and invective about pet issues from post-Katrina New Orleans (”It’s unconscionable for that reality to persist”) to conspiracy theories labeling 9/11 an inside job (”I’m a New Yorker and it just doesn’t feel right”).

Distrustful of media, he has faith in music’s power to illuminate and educate, but not with the slap of a ruler.

“At the very least, music has to make people feel good, especially during tough times,” he says. “Good art provides people with a vocabulary about things they can’t articulate. So yeah, put something useful in there. It can be vulgar, provocative, dark; a lot of things in life are.”

The Ecstatic flirts with modern studio tools and machined beats, which Mos Def embraces, but he has yet to get an iPod, confessing he’s both geek and phobic when it comes to technology.

“It’s a mix of curiosity, fascination, respect and bewilderment,” he says. “Twitter freaks me out. You have followers? It feels so obsessive and proprietary. It has great applications, and it’s effective, I get it. But ‘I did something, I did something else, I’m at it again.’ Why?

“I’m still getting over YouTube, people. These breakthroughs are coming at such velocity that before you get your sea legs, there’s another wave hitting you.”

With The Ecstatic complete, Mos Def is pondering movie offers. Recent screwball caper Next Day Air didn’t triumph, but he has higher hopes for Toussaint, a biopic about Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L’Ouverture, to be directed by Danny Glover and co-starring Wesley Snipes and Don Cheadle.

“It’s hard to take Hollywood too seriously,” Mos Def says. “If you can turn a dollar and sleep at night, then cool. Whether a movie sinks or swims, you want to have a decent experience, so you go for something that at least is trying to be good.”

He refuses to let regrets or resentments cloud his sanguine demeanor. Pressed to identify buzz kills, he says, “Oppression. Leaders misusing power to enslave and murder.”

Anything else?

He laughs. “I like peace and love. When people get too aggro, I’m like, really? Do you have to be hollering? I’m not shy about heated debate or passionate discourse, but when people get crazy or rude, that’s a buzz kill. There’s got to be a better code of conduct, some basic etiquette.”

Fidel suddenly pipes up. “Can we go to the other pool?”

Mos Def pulls him closer. “Not yet. I’m still working.”

Fidel frowns. “Dada, can we go to the beach tomorrow?”

Mos Def flashes a broad smile and says, “My life is awesome.”

USA Today

Added by: Chinita, 09/Jun/09 | Comments: 0

Hip-Hop For HIV Returns to Dallas in June 

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Dallas, TX - Healthcare remains a critical national issue yet first it is a personal one that requires an individual to be proactive. This July that issue of being proactive takes center stage as Rickey Smiley, Mayor Pro-Tem Dwaine Caraway, KBFB 97.9 The Beat, The City of Dallas and The MLK, Jr. Family Clinic launch their awareness initiative throughout the Metroplex with an annual event to educate the community on the epidemic of HIV/AIDS. The Second Annual Hip Hop for HIV concert will take place on July 12 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Palladium Ballroom.

Knowing your status and “testing for tickets” is the core initiative of this annual event specifically for the age group between 15 to 30 years of age. “Testing for tickets” allows those tested to know their status, be further educated on the disease and more importantly better informed on the social and medical services available to treat those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS locally, regionally and nationally.

Testing sites will be designated throughout the DFW Metroplex as Rickey Smiley, Mayor Pro-Tem Dwaine Caraway, KBFB 97.9 The Beat, The City of Dallas and the MLK, Jr. Family Clinic will collaborate with several community based organizations to begin confidential testing from June 12, 2009 to July 10, 2009. Anyone tested will receive One FREE Ticket to gain entry into the concert.

More than 1.2 million people live with HIV/AIDS and the most impact continues to be prevalent in the African American and Hispanic communities. In the third quarter of 2008, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Dallas reported 402 new HIV cases and 366 new AIDS cases with 43% African American and 29% Hispanic. Globally more than 16 million people have died of AIDS and more than 16,000 people become newly infected each day.

The concert will feature international, national and local Hip Hop artists. During their performances these artists will further facilitate on the importance of being proactive, knowing your status and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

For additional information contact Stephen Red Delasbour or Stephanie Nash @ 972-331-5400 or Log on to

Pegasus News

Added by: Chinita, 09/Jun/09 | Comments: 0

Young Palestinians Find Their Voice Through Hip-Hop 

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The Maqusi Towers in Gaza City look a bit like US housing projects. The neighborhood consists of several tall apartment buildings grouped together in the northern part of town. It is also ground zero for Gaza’s growing Hip-Hop community. On a recent evening in one small but well-decorated apartment, a dozen rappers and their friends and families relaxed, danced, smoked flavored tobacco, and rapped the lyrics to some of their songs.

The occasion was a post-show celebration of the taping of Hip Hop Kom, an American Idol-type talent competition for Palestinian rappers. Fifteen acts from across Palestine performed on Thursday night, and the show was broadcast simultaneously in Gaza City and the West Bank city of Ramallah. Through the use of video conferencing and projection, each city could see and hear the performances happening in the other. Five groups from Gaza participated, and Gazawians came in first, third, and fourth place.

The Gaza City show was held in a small theatre in the Palestine Red Crescent building. Although only publicized by word of mouth, nearly 200 young people filled the theatre, loudly cheering for the rappers and breakdance crew who took the stage.

One of the organizers of the contest, a charismatic literature major named Ayman Meghames, is a minor celebrity here. Part of Gaza’s first Hip-Hop group — named PR: Palestinian Rapperz — Ayman dedicates his time to supporting and publicizing Gaza’s young music scene.

Armed with a ready smile, Ayman was seemingly everywhere at once that night. He was on stage introducing the acts, helping with technical difficulties, greeting friends, and coordinating with the West Bank organizers.

For Ayman, making music is a form of resistance to war and occupation, and also a tool to communicate the reality of life in Palestine. “Most of our lyrics are about the occupation,” he tells me. “Lately we’ve also started singing about the conflict between Hamas and Fatah. Any problem, it needs to be written about.” Rapper Chuck D, from the group Public Enemy, once called rap music the CNN for Black America. For Ayman and his friends, music is their weapon to break media silence. “Most of the world believes we are the terrorists,” he says. “And the media is closed to us, so we get our message out through Hip-Hop.”

One of the first acts to take the stage was a duo called Black Unit Band. Mohammed Wafy, one of the two singers, displays the innocent charm of a teen pop star as he jumps from the stage and into the audience. Tall and skinny with a shock of black hair, Mohammed is 18 and looks younger. Khaled Harara, the other singer (and Mohammed’s next door neighbor) is a few years older and several pounds heavier, but no less energetic on stage.

As the evening progressed, the energy in the room continued to rise. The next act featured six members from two combined groups (DA MCs, and RG, for Revolutionary Guys) now collectively called DARG Team. The crowd was up on their feet, many of them singing along as the performers displayed a range of lyrical stylings.

In Mohammed Wafy’s apartment, the perfomers waited anxiously for the results of the contest. The call came in on Ayman’s cel phone. Putting it on speaker, everyone listened as the results were announced: DARG team had come in first place, and Black Unit had placed third. There were no hurt feelings apparent for those that didn’t win — for these young performers, every victory is a shared victory. DARG members will now go on to Denmark to produce an album (if they can get out of Gaza).

Fadi Bakhet, a studious and slightly preppy looking Afro-Palestinian in wire-rimmed glasses, is DARG’s manager, and also the brother of one of the members. As the night continued, the gathering moved to his apartment. They celebrated the successful show, which also fell on the last day of exams for many students, and the laughing and conversation continued late into the night. The next day was hot and sunny, and thousands of Gazawians gathered on the beach to swim and relax by the Mediterranean.

These stories may seem incongruent with much of the international reporting about Gaza and the Hamas government. But it is exactly for this reason that they should be told.

If you follow the reporting on Palestine in the US media, you may imagine a fundamentalist state. Hamas-stan, as at least one Israeli commentator has called it. You may imagine a nation of terrorists, where women are oppressed and men launch rockets. But perhaps when we learn that Palestinian families swim on Friday afternoons, that they study literature in the day and rap about imprisoned friends at night, we can rethink the US’ unquestioning support for Israeli aggression against this almost entirely defenseless population.

Yesterday, I visited a journalism class at the Islamic University, taught by Rami Almeghari. The students had many questions, but one young woman’s words in particular stayed with me. “What can we do to reach people in America and tell them how things really are here,” she asked. “How can we get them to listen, and to see?”

Article written by Jordan Flaherty for Dissident Voice

Added by: Chinita, 09/Jun/09 | Comments: 0

TriggerTheSoldier - Set It Off (prod. by Trouble R) 


Contact TriggerTheSoldier

Trigger's Myspace


Added by: EmSeeD, 09/Jun/09 | Comments: 0

Phonte Hints At Little Brother Hiatus 

Phonte of Hip Hop duo "Little Brother" has hinted "Leftback" may be their last project.

The duo formed in 1998 and have released 3 Studio albums and 9 official mixtapes together between 2002 and 2008.

“It's been three studio albums, a host of mixtapes/mix-albums, a gang of label/internal group drama and we still survived through it all,” Phonte explained. “For me, it just feels like a 'we came, we saw, we made our mark' sorta thing. I don't know if there's anything left to prove.”

The duo will however do still plan to work together through solo and other projects,

“Me and Pooh will always make music together in some capacity,” said Phonte. “If anything it'll be more like a BlackStar situation where we will have our solo endeavors but still occasionally perform together and pop up on each other's projects. But as for the LB brand, ‘Leftback’ will definitely be the last fix for awhile.”

Added by: EmSeeD, 08/Jun/09 | Comments: 1

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