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Rebel of the underground: an interview with RodStarz of Rebel Diaz

June 1, 2010

Rebel Diaz and Beeda Weeda headline the ‘Black and Brown Get Down for Oscar Grant’ concert Wednesday, June 9, 9 p.m., at the Rockit Room on the eve of Oscar Grant triggerman Johannes Mehserle’s trial in LA, the first time a Cali cop has ever been tried for an on-duty murder! Event details below

by Minister of Info JR

Rebel Diaz: RodStarz, Lah Tere and G1
Right alongside the other premier political hip hop acts of the day – dead prez, Immortal Technique and Mos Def – Rebel Diaz is one of the frontliners when it comes to using hip hop culture in the worldwide fight of the haves vs. the have-nots. I respect them because their music isn’t just about making money; it is about them rapping and assisting social and political movements like what they are scheduled to do in the Bay, where they, along with Beeda Weeda, are headlining “The Black and Brown Get Down for Oscar Grant.”

If you don’t know about these lyrical trailblazers, you might need to get some new MP3s for the collection. Check them out and come see them live in concert in the Bay (full details below) …

M.O.I. JR: Who is Rebel Diaz? How and when did y’all hook up?

RodStarz: Rebel Diaz is RodStarz, G1 and Lah Tere. We all grew up in Chicago. RodStarz and G1 are brothers and Lah Tere and RodStarz became friends in college. G1 made the move to NYC while attending NYU and RodStarz joined him. A year later, Lah Tere joined them and Rebel Diaz was born.

M.O.I. JR: How would you describe your sound?

RodStarz: In your face. On point. Loud. Local. Global. Hip Hop. Nueva Cancion. Salsa. Boom bap. Resistance. Chicago. Puerto Rico. Chile. South Bronx.

M.O.I. JR: Can you talk about some of the political campaigns that your group has aided and assisted in recent memory?

RodStarz: Think of one and we most likely have supported, whether through music or action. But for the last year and a half we have focused on our main project, which is the RDACBX Autonomous Community Space.

The Rebel Diaz Arts Collective is a warehouse and abandoned factory in the South Bronx where we set up shop in November of 2008 and turned into a liberated autonomous community hip hop center. The collective itself is made up of about 20 other community activists, artists, mcs, djs and students.

We now have a studio, performance stage and area, an art gallery and a backyard open space for muralists all open to the community. This is all autonomous work done free of the restraints of the nonprofit industry model. For more info go to www.rdacbx.org.

M.O.I. JR: How did you feel when you heard about the murder of Oscar Grant? How did you feel when you heard about the Oakland rebellions that followed?

RodStarz: Enraged. Sad. Disappointed. Pissed off because this keeps on happening to our young Black and Brown brothers in our communities. We just had the Sean Bell murder in New York and those cops walked free!

The uprising in Oakland was inspiring. The media tried to twist it up but we know what that was. There’s a history of struggle in Oakland. The people responded how New York should have.

But we gotta keep that energy and rage consistent and get organized. Never forget Oscar Grant and keep fighting.

M.O.I. JR: Why do you think Black and Brown people should combine forces to fight the state sanctioned forces that are oppressing both communities in the U.S.?

RodStarz: We first gotta stop thinking we are separate on some Black and Brown color lines. Black Cubans, Dominicans, Colombians, Puerto Ricans are Afro-Latinos. In California, the racial lines are increased because of the lack of a Caribbean population.

We are the descendants of slaves and of indigenous peoples who had their land stolen. The system divides us as a divide and conquer tactic. Our history of struggle shows that. Look at the Brown Berets and the Black Panthers.

We are the ones that are in prison. We are the ones being murdered by the pigs. The pigs on the corners ain’t no different than the pigs on the border. Our young people are the ones being sent off to fight an unjust war. It is our schools that are underfunded and overcrowded. We are the low wage workers.

Look at Arizona! They legalized racial profiling. Jim Crow all over again.

M.O.I. JR: Whats new wit’ Rebel Diaz?

RodStarz: After Cali, we are headed to Detroit for the U.S. Social Forum. Then we hittin up Venezuela for the Cumbre Internacional de Hip Hop in early July. After that in NYC we are doing Central Park Summerstage with Anita Tijoux, a dope mc from Chile. We are gonna be in Cuba in August and of course the RDAC BX.

We are about to put out some new music this summer from Rebel Diaz and the members of the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective: YC the Cynic, Circa95: Rephstar and Patty Dukes, Jon Mega, Bliz da Don, Rela, Marcel Cartier, Waco Division, Dj Charlie Hustle and Inti Kana.

M.O.I. JR: How can people hear your music online?

RodStarz: Go to www.rebeldiaz.com.

Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at blockreportradio@gmail.com and visit www.blockreportradio.com.

Listen to Davey D’s interview with Rebel Diaz on KPFA’s Hard Knock Radio June 8 at http://kpfa.org/archive/id/61669.

‘Black and Brown Get Down for Oscar Grant’

Rebel Diaz are coming all the way from New York City to join Oakland’s own Beeda Weeda as headliners for a benefit concert on the eve of the trial of police triggerman Johannes Mehserle, who murdered Oscar Grant. Don’t miss the Black and Brown Get Down for Oscar Grant” on Wednesday, June 9, 9 p.m., at the Rockit Room, 406 Clement St., San Francisco, where the recent dead prez concert was held. Big Dan, G-Wett, Mahasen, East Bay Politix, Los Rakas, YC the Cynic, Kalae All Day on the Wheelz of Steel, DJ Beats Me from Distortion 2 Static and DJ Leydis round out the performance lineup.

Opening the show at 9 p.m. is a panel on “What Artists and People Can Do for the Oscar Grant Movement” featuring RodStarz of Rebel Diaz, Kamel Bell of Anhk Marketing, Jack Bryson, father of two of Oscar’s friends who were beside him when he was murdered, The Brown Berets and more. The moderator is POCC Minister of Info JR. Pre-sale tickets are $15 at http://beedaweedarebeldiazsf.eventbrite.com/. Get yours today before they’re all sold out. For more information, email blockreportradio.com.

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