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F.A.B. is the voice of the streets, the voice of the voiceless. F.A.B. is the embodiment of the struggle of young Black men growing up in the raw, merciless streets of post-industrial Oakland, California. He is still a young man. However, in these latter years, F.A.B. has used his voice to offer direction, encouragement and advice to young people desiring to stand on the peak of hip-hop stardom next to him. As he grows into O.G. status, that voice of wisdom becomes more pronounced.
It is very important that you all clearly understand the depth of human torture to which I was subjected for 30-plus years by CDCr and CCPOA.* The torture was directed at me and similarly situated women and men prisoners held in California’s solitary confinement locations throughout CDCr, with the approval and sanctioning of California governors, CDCr secretaries and directors, attorneys general, along with the California Legislature for the past 40 years.
Twenty-one years after Ben Caldwell opened the doors of the Kaos Network for the community Hip Hop workshop, Project Blowed, we are celebrating the birth of one of L.A.’s biggest Hip Hop institutions. The 21st anniversary will be celebrated Sunday, Dec. 27, outside in Leimert Park, in the “La.” Check out Dara Caldwell, the daughter of Ben Caldwell, as she tells us about a golden era in Southern Cali Hip Hop.
“The Talk” or “How to survive while Black” is given at one point or another to all young Black men. It is filled with different pointers and suggestions on how to handle police encounters when you are walking, driving or just breathing while being an African American. My mother gave my younger brother and me the talk several years ago when we turned 12, and 15 years later I gave it to my “little brother” M, a young man that I am mentoring.
Raw G is an up-and-coming Bay Area bilingual MC who just dropped her debut album, “Esperanza.” For years she has established a local presence, burning up the opening act slot for performers in the Bay. But most importantly, Raw G is an established “raptivist” – an MC who is involved in activism. In fact, Raw G will donate all proceeds from “Esperanza” to a high school in Oakland that is dedicated to working with newly arrived immigrants. Check out Raw G in her own words.
T-Rydah, one third of the Black Panther Fugitives rap group, is gearing up to release a solo album, produced solely by Jamil, another member of the group, this spring called “Hard Times/Good Times.” Today you can find T-Rydah, Jamil and their Red Camera shooting videos, recording vocals or listening to some of Jamil’s beats. Check out T-Rydah speaking for himself.
It has been a few months since my release from 20 years of solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison (SHU) to Step 5 of the Step Down Program (SDP). I thought I should pen this communique with an update on my travels from one place to another – the new location, experience, encounters and situations – as everything has unfolded.
In a Hollywood Reporter article, Spike Lee is quoted: “In 1989, ‘Do the Right Thing’ was not even nominated [for best picture],” said Lee, with some mock outrage. “What film won best picture in 1989? ‘Driving Miss Mother F-ing Daisy!’ That’s why [Oscars] don’t matter,” said Lee. “Because 20 years later, who’s watching ‘Driving Miss Daisy?’”
Jesus El, a member of the Golden State Warriors acrobatic dunk team, has started a youth program, Boys to Eagles, to help young men who grew up in single parent homes in the ghetto just like him. The program not only helps train acrobats, but musicians, video journalists, dancers and entrepreneurs.
Joan Armatrading’s statement calling on leaders of Israel and Palestine to “take that step” to solve “the problem” is a backwards way of acknowledging protests of her recent concert in Tel Aviv, Israel. When she plays San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts on Tuesday, Aug. 10, let her know that to disregard the Palestinian cultural boycott is to take a stand with racism and apartheid.
The idiotic controversy that is the focus of the nation’s media and which claims Nevada Sen. Harry Reid uttered racist comments is mind boggling in its obtuseness. Democrats and honest Republicans, white and Black, cannot seem to gather the moral energy and mental clarity to call the Republicans who are promoting this issue by their true name: demagogues.
Maafa 2009 was chillier than usual, but our hearts were certainly no less warmed by the ancestors’ tight embrace as supplicants made their way through the Middle Passage to the Wolosodon rhythms, the slave march through the Doors of No Return to the beach where each person held a piece of string – symbolic of a connection … a philosophical connection to the homeland, family and history.
Ben Caldwell is a mainstay in Los Angeles’ Black cultural district known as Leimert Park. He has had a part in assisting in the careers of many of LA’s most talented artists over the last 20 years, but most notable would be the influence that he and his venue, the Kaos Network, had on the legendary LA artist collective known as Project Blowed.