by The People’s Minister of Information JR
Soul is one of the newer voices from the Oakland music community that will be performing at one of the first music festivals of the year in the Town, the Oakland Music Crawl, which is this Saturday in downtown Oakland, starting at 2 p.m. There will be a number of concerts inside restaurants and galleries as well as outside in the streets. Soul will be performing at Spice Monkey, 1628 Webster St., in downtown from 8-10:30 p.m. Come check out his music as well as check out this exclusive Q&A, previewing this weekend’s event.
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell the people where you are from and how you got into spoken word?
Soul: I was born in Oakland and spent the majority of my youth in this city. I’ve also lived throughout the Bay Area, so I have a love and appreciation for the area at large.
I was never a spoken word artist in the way one would think of Saul Williams, Amiri Baraka, Last Poets etc. I’m an emcee; my poetry is rap in the tradition of hip-hop more than anything else. I’ve had many folks think I was a poet, based upon the title of my last album, “The Unspoken Word,” but I’m cool with that, just as long as that compels them to listen to my music.
I started writing rhymes in the eighth grade, influenced then by Too $hort to Run DMC, Digital Underground and the likes of Public Enemy, XClan etc. Though I had songs written in high school, I didn’t start performing until much later, when I shared some of my songs with a co-worker at a music magazine I worked at years ago, who urged me to step out and be heard.
I was never a spoken word artist in the way one would think of Saul Williams, Amiri Baraka, Last Poets etc. I’m an emcee; my poetry is rap in the tradition of hip-hop more than anything else.
Not fitting into one box of music, or message – and really not being much of a conformist – some folks would call me “sOuL,” and the name sort of stuck over the years. I’ve been performing ever since.
M.O.I. JR: What is the Oakland Music Crawl and what is the concept behind it? Is it a monthly thing?
Soul: Oakland Drops Beats is a festival they are calling an Oakland music crawl as it is a free music festival with different artists performing in a few block radius in downtown Oakland. Some artists will be performing outdoors on a stage, while others will be performing in art galleries and restaurants.
I guess they call this a music crawl because folks can walk around and enjoy music in different spots throughout the day. As far as I know, it’s not a monthly thing, but perhaps an annual affair.
Oakland Drops Beats is a festival they are calling an Oakland music crawl as it is a free music festival with different artists performing in a few block radius in downtown Oakland. Some artists will be performing outdoors on a stage, while others will be performing in art galleries and restaurants.
M.O.I. JR: What are you going to be doing at it? Where?
Soul: I’ll be performing songs off of my last two records as well as new material I’m working on, at a restaurant called Spice Monkey, 1628 Webster St., Oakland, at 9 p.m. In addition to my performance, there will be several other artists performing in support of Atiim Chenzira’s album release celebration. There will also be live painting going on by some visual artists, so it should be a great show to check out!
M.O.I. JR: What else have you been up to?
Soul: I’ve been working on completing my third album, as well as finishing up shooting videos for this release. This next album is going to be more in the vein of mixtapes, continuing the social and political commentary normally found in my music.
I’m excited about this album – which I’ve tentatively named “Contraband” – as I feel myself evolving more creatively, using more imagery in my lyrics, as well as expanding on the message by not just rehashing the same old formula for “conscious rap.” I want this music to be something lived to, thought provoking, yet inspirational.
M.O.I. JR: How could people stay up with you?
Soul: It’s best to follow me online to keep up with my performances and album releases. My main website, www.11525.com, has links to my Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages. Folks can also listen to my music on Pandora as well at the following URL: http://www.pandora.com/soul-rap.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and the newly released “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.