by The People’s Minister of Information JR
Back in the early to mid ‘90s, there was a local Hip Hop magazine named 4080, which was the first widely known magazine to cover Bay Area Hip Hop. Malcolm Shabazz Hoover was one of the premiere writers for the publication.
At that time, I was just a voracious reader and had not written a thing that was worth sharing. I remember Malcolm Shabazz Hoover published my first music reviews. Besides that, his writing has always been notable and thought provoking.
So when he approached me last year, talking about the fact that he was coming out with a book, “144 Poems for God, Love, Truth, Justice, Peace and Hip Hop,” I was happy for him, because in today’s times we do not regularly appreciate our Black conscious writers, who help us to interpret the world. Writers, poets and expressionists of all types are on the frontlines of the battle for our minds against the corporate ideals that are being promoted to us.
And Malcolm Shabazz Hoover is one of these essential keyboard banging psychological warriors. Check him out in his own words talking about his literary debut, “144 Poems for God, Love, Truth, Justice, Peace and Hip Hop.”
M.O.I. JR: How long have you been a writer?
Malcolm Shabazz Hoover: I’ve been actively writing since the age of 12.
M.O.I. JR: What incident or who made you a writer?
Malcolm Shabazz Hoover: A teacher, Mrs. Linda Goss, gave me my first journal in the sixth grade to write in because she could see I was troubled. My home life was crazy and I needed a place to put all those feelings.
M.O.I. JR: Why do you write?
Malcolm Shabazz Hoover: I write because it is my art and I’m trying to make sense of the world I live in. My writing is the way I sort through and order my world.
M.O.I. JR: Is it a selfish internal thing, or is it a selfless teaching tool?
Malcolm Shabazz Hoover: I write on different levels and for different audiences. I start most writing in my journal or on my blog. Most of what I write, except the fiction, is personal. A lot of that journal writing gets turned into stuff for public consumption.
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us about your literary debut?
Malcolm Shabazz Hoover: “144 Poems for God, Love, Truth, Justice, Peace and Hip Hop” is a compilation of my best poems from 1982 to 2015. It would have been a large book but my car was vandalized and I lost about sixteen journals, about 12 years of writing.
M.O.I. JR: What inspired it?
Malcolm Shabazz Hoover: I was inspired originally by my Aunt Mary Hoover, who was a legendary educator at SFSU, Howard and UPenn and co-founder of Nairobi College. She was the first person to tell me that I needed to put my poems into a book and publish them. My wife, Crystallee, was the one who really pushed me and encouraged me to finish it and put it out.
I think that I have a unique perspective and voice. I want to share my work with the people who inspired it.
M.O.I. JR: Why did you mix essays and poems?
Malcolm Shabazz Hoover: I just write. Sometimes it comes out as prose, a poem or if I really need to make it plain and I’m not as concerned with length, I’ll write an essay.
M.O.I. JR: How are the two forms connected subject-wise in the book?
Malcolm Shabazz Hoover: I have essays and poems about the same subjects.
M.O.I. JR: How was it published?
Malcolm Shabazz Hoover: It’s published by Tayen Lane, a local publisher, and distributed by Ingram, the premier distributor of books worldwide.
M.O.I. JR: How has it been received so far?
Malcolm Shabazz Hoover: It’s been received very well locally. I’ve sold out of every copy I’ve had. It’s selling in the bookstores, the few copies that have been ordered.
I’m not sure about online sells yet. I’ll know in July how many copies I sold this first quarter. I anticipate it will take about a year to six months to generate a grass roots buzz about the book.
M.O.I. JR: What do you want people to get from it?
Malcolm Shabazz Hoover: I want people to know that our experiences are valid. That our lives matter and our experiences impact each other. I want people to read about the things I’ve overcome and moved through to emerge on the other side of it intact.
M.O.I. JR: What are you writing next?
Malcolm Shabazz Hoover: I’m working on a few stories; a love story, a story about three siblings who escape from slavery, and an Afro futurist novel about a guy who escapes from prison and starts a worldwide revolution.
M.O.I. JR: How do people keep in touch with you?
Malcolm Shabazz Hoover: firstname.lastname@example.org
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’“ and “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 email@example.com.