AIDS is an epidemic that we hardly talk about in the Black community, and that is a dangerous thing when we are dropping like flies from it all over the world. To all of the readers, I would say adults but adults aren't the only ones having sex, think about the last time that you had unprotected sex with someone. BAM! You could have have contracted HIV that fast. If that would have happened, you traded in your health and life for an hour of fun? How intelligent is that? And be clear although I'm writing this for the readers, I am at the same time talking to myself so I am not coming from no holier-than thou pulpit.
Black August begins with a campaign for the acquittal of Francisco Torres, the only member of the San Francisco 8 still charged. Go to www.freethesf8.org for messages to phone or fax to Attorney General Jerry Brown, urging him to drop the charges. Cisco’s hearing is Aug. 10 if the charges aren’t dropped.
By far one of the most revolutionary cultural groups to put words to music in the United States is the Last Poets. Many, including myself, trace the roots of rap music to the spoken word, lyrics and speeches of the Last Poets, Gil Scott Heron and the current political prisoner Imam Jamil Al-Amin, otherwise known as H. Rap Brown.
Drama has been a valuable art form to the Black experience in Amerikkka since before slavery. It was one of the ways that we maintained our history, although huge segments of the population couldn’t read or aren’t reading. I have only been to a few theatrical plays, but I love cinema, with some of the best dramatized movies to me being “dead presidents,” “Brown Sugar” and “Juice.”
DJ Fresh is a legend in the arena of DJing around the world but he is also known for his contributions of putting out lesser known artists right here in the Bay Area. DJ Fresh is a dude who you may catch hanging out with Bicasso of Living Legends fame one day, and the next day he might be in the studio wit’ young hood mascots like Yung Moses, DLO or Sleepy. You can’t put Fresh in the box of being backpacker or gangsta; he’s just hip hop.
For those who feel his music was mere bubblegum pop, and thus devoid of serious social commentary, check out one of his post “Thriller” songs, “They Don’t Care About Us.” Filmed in what appears to be a Brazilian favela, surrounded by thousands of dark skinned boys and girls, many drumming to the beat, the song is an anthem of how the rich world treats the poor of the world.
Required reading for Americans pre-fireworks and festivities should be an important speech given by abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass, who, in “What to the American Slave is Your Fourth of July?” questions this holiday which took place while citizens were denied their right to justice, freedom and equality. At the Oakland Public Conservatory, Michael Lange and youth wordsmiths Ayinde Webb, the drummer in the Frederick Douglass Youth Ensemble, and Jamani Williams will read excerpts.
On other coasts, you could just put on a red, black and green bandana or arm band and be talking to all white people but call your yourself a Black conscious or political rapper. Conscious of what I don't know, but the Jacka, on his new album "Tear Gas," shares the knowledge that he has with what revolutionary theoretician Frantz Fanon called "The Wretched of the Earth" instead of thinking that the information that he has makes him more elite, or better than someone else.
When watching movies we often see the perspective of directors, writers and producers who were not conditioned to see the world and the culture they are filming from the viewpoint of somebody living in it instead of just a spectator. Idris Hassan is one of many emerging female filmmakers who refuse to sit back and just accept someone else's view of what is happening.
Frisco's Sellassie is one of the artists in the Bay that helps to keep the independent scene together, with his partner Gina Gallo of Inhouse Talent. They are the architects of the "We All We Got" concert series, which moves around from club to club in San Francisco and features some of the hottest underground talent in the Bay.
The Maqusi Towers in Gaza City look a bit like U.S. 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.
One of the definite queens of soul music, folk guitarists and amazing song writers of our time is India.Arie. She has been nominated numerous times for Grammys, but more importantly she has been one of the symbols, within this decade, of dark skinned talented Black women musicians rising to prominence. Mainstream media in America, since its inception, has been about destroying the image of African people.
June 9 we had an up close and personal interview on Wanda's Picks Radio with the great pianist, George Cables. He was at Yoshi's in San Francisco with his friends, Bobby Hutcherson and Charlie Haden and is on to New York for a tribute to Freddie Hubbard later this week. Listen any time at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Wandas-Picks/2009/06/09/Wandas-Picks-Special. You will not be disappointed.
Right now, Adimu is working on a new documentary called "Operation: Small Ax" about the POCC: Block Report Radio show and its role in organizing in the terrible but fine year of 2009 in the Bay Area in the eye of the storm of controversies like the murder of Oscar Grant, the Oakland Rebellions, the trials of the Oakland 100, the murder of Lovelle Mixon and four OPD and more. It also includes exclusive interviews with Emory Douglas of the Black Panther Party, Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. of the POCC, Umar Bin Hassan of the Last Poets, rappers Beeda Weeda, J. Stalin, Mahasen and Chela Simone and an exclusive Block Report Radio interview with Angela Davis that was used to promote Mumia's new book.
Damon Jamal is a pioneering force in the Bay Area's media and hip hop markets that has been producing projects that 15 years ago would have only been conceivable with a budget from MTV or VH1. Now he is a very sought after videographer and filmmaker who makes the magic happen on an independent level right from his Mac laptop's Final Cut program, which is sitting on his desk in his downtown Oakland office which he shares with Kaz Kyzah's Mogul Media.
Our beloved Mother Mary Ann Wright passed last month; she was 87. She was soft-spoken when not in the pulpit or behind her bullhorn holding church at her multiple food giveaway sites. I marveled over this woman who'd done so much to comfort the poor, a woman loved by all who knew her.
I have known Umi for a good half a decade and he has been a major supporter of the POCC's Code of Culture all around the country, whether it was assisting now political prisoner Aaron Patterson when he was on the streets with the many campaigns that he was involved in, or whether it is him giving comrades moving through New York a place to lay their heads.
"George and I" is Jahi and producer Korise' Big Tunes' newest creation where Jahi is rhyming to Korise's George Benson remake tracks. It's hot and innovative. I haven't heard a dedication/concept album like this. It feels good to be hearing these guys push Bay Area hip hop to new limits.