Monthly Archives: November 2011

2011 SoulTracks Reader’s Choice Awards | Monday 12/5

Hey SoulTrackers, the time has come! After months of nominations and thousands of votes, we are now ready for the 2011 SoulTracks Readers’ Choice Awards, the world’s most popular awards celebrating independent soul music!

This year’s Awards will be broadcast on Monday, December 5th at 8:00 p.m., hosted by our good friend Jodine Dorce of Jodine’s Corner (with special help from our friend Nina Morena). You can listen to the awards online on the following stations listed alphabetically:


(listed alphabetically):

A.S.S.K. Radio Rhythm and Soul Radio
A Funk Above the Rest Rhythm Flow Radio
Basement Soul Radio Soul City Radio
Black Soul Rhythms Soul Radio (tape delayed)
Funk Republic Radio Sounds of Soul Radio
Neo Soul Cafe Starpoint Radio
Radio Free Detroit

Independent Album of the Year

Anthony David – As Above So Below
Bilal – Airtight’s Revenge
Kelly Price – Kelly
Kindred the Family Soul - Love Has No Recession
Rahsaan Patterson – bluephoria
The Foreign Exchange – Authenticity
Zo! – …just visiting three

Song of the Year

“4Evermore” - Anthony David and Algebra
“Easier Said Than Done” - Rahsaan Patterson
“I Need A Dollar” - Aloe Blacc
“Little One” - Bilal
“Magic Happens” - Kindred the Family Soul
“Tired” - Kelly Price
“You Gotta Be” - Patti Austin

Female Vocalist of the Year

Kelly Price
Deborah Bond
Julie Dexter
Keke Wyatt
Kim Burrell
Maya Azucena
Patti Austin
Syleena Johnson

Male Vocalist of the Year

Anthony David
Frank McComb
Freddie Jackson
Gordon Chambers
Noel Gourdin
Rahsaan Patterson

Duo or Group of the Year

Kindred the Family Soul
Electric Empire
Mama’s Gun
Mint Condition
Reel People
Soul Cycle
The Foreign Exchange
The Stylistics

New Artist of the Year

Abby Dobson
Chaz Shepherd
Cleveland Jones
LeNora Jaye
Nia Devine
Teri Tobin

Major Label Album of the Year

Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin
Jill Scott – The Light of the Sun
Adele – 21
Charlie Wilson – Uncle Charlie
Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer
El DeBarge – Second Chance
Ledisi – Pieces of Me

INTERVIEW: J-Live Talks “S.P.T.A” as the emcee, producer and DJ

With his latest album, S.P.T.A. (Said Person Of That Ability) New York native J-Live took on the role of a three-headed beast: producing, emceeing and DJing on the different tracks. He answers each of Fusicology’s questions as one of the three different characters.


Fusic: Technically speaking, is it more difficult to make an album when you’re in charge of the production, DJ’n and rapping versus having different people in charge of the different aspects?


J-Live: I’ll answer as a producer. It was much more difficult but also much more satisfying in that regard. This is the full length album that I totally mixed by myself. I didn’t produce all of the beats, but I did chose all the beats and it was my responsibility to make sure that the record was sonically up to par and was direct from my catalogue, with the help of the people that sort of raised me as an engineer, people like Pro Beat Mitz who mixed “Then What Happened”, people like Elliot Thomas who mixed “Go With The Above” and people like David Kennedy, who also mastered this album.

From their tutelage to them lending a helping ear to see how I was coming along, I think I was very, very pleased with the end result, and it was sort of my crowning achievement as an engineer.


Fusic: Which one of your three personalities was the most difficult as far as getting along with the others?


J-Live: I’ll answer this an an emcee. Definitely the producer (laughs.) He’s always been behind the scenes as far as not just the musical production but the logistics of things, and it was a very ,very tedious process as far as him pickin’ beats from other producers, as far as picking his [own] beats, and a lot of times, as an emcee, I had veto power as far as what beats we were gonna use, and whenever there’s a situation like that, you bump heads and people get salty, but…at the end of the day, even though he only had three beats on the record, it’s still a great representation of his talents because of everything else that he put in, you know?


Fusic: Do you begin to feel a little bit schizophrenic after a while, when you’re doing something like this, and how did you even formulate this idea in the first place?


J-Live: I’ll answer that as the DJ. I do tend to feel schizophrenic, but that’s been sort of the nature of my career. Some people look at me as a DJ that can rhyme, some people look at me as an emcee that can DJ at the same time. Some people see me as a teacher who quit school, who quit teaching to rap, when in fact I was an emcee before….I basically started teaching after some label troubles in the early 2000′s. So as far as being schizophrenic, its been fun to portray it this way, wearing so many hats…


Fusic: So did you start rapping first before you DJ’d? I know the DJ usually comes before the producer…


J-Live: I’ll answer this as the producer. J-Live started rhyming when I was 12, at the same time DJ J-Live was first learning how to scratch, as J-Live was writing his first versus. This was way back in like ’88, ’89. Myself, I didn’t really get started until about 2000, but I’d always wanted to, just watching them, it was always something I always felt like I can do, but I didn’t wanna call myself a producer until I had my own production. So until I settled into the MPC, after runnin’ the SR50 and the SR10, that’s when I really got into it, when I had my own machine, and I could churn out beats.


Fusic: I saw your tweet a while back regarding Obama’s new “album”, ‘Pass This Job Bill (Pass It Now)’…


J-Live: (laughs) It’s just funny because the way he speaks, it’s damn near musical as far as his ability to give a speech. And he made it a point to sort of make that the refrain and the chorus of the hook, so to speak, when he was talking to both houses, it had that sort of rhythm to it.

That’s the only reason I put it like that, it’s like he’s promoting his new album. Like the way I promote an album is like a campaign, like “Alright, the record came out September 27th, go out and vote.” You’ll have an opportunity to vote after the 27th but that first day sale, first week sale, will determine whether or not the album stays at Best Buy or how long its on the shelf or how heavily it gets featured on itunes.

It’s the same thing with movies. You want more dynamic and prominent roles for black actors, and you want more successful black directors, then you need to go see that Spike Lee movie on the first day. And if you’re tired of the Medinas of the world and the Big Momma’s Houses of the world soaking up all the attention, then you have to be selective of where you spend your money. And that’s sending a message to the suppliers as far as being a demander.


Fusic: What trips me out is how do so many more people watch Madea than Spike Lee? He’s one of the great directors of our time.


J-Live: It’s like I say, man. You can find me saying this in countless interviews, but it still reigns supreme to this day man, checkers sell better than chess. That’s just the reality of it. you know what’s the more profound game, you know which is the deeper game, but the bottom line is that this is more accessible and it’s easier to play and its easier to learn, it’s gonna reach more people.

Taking that analogy and bringing it back to music, I don’t focus on how successful the Medea movie is, I could care less. My focus is on making sure that I put my dollars behind a Spike Lee movie. Let the corny stuff be what it’s gonna be, let it do what it’s gonna do. Advocate dopiness. Like when you’re little, your parents say if you wanna get rid of the boogie man, you have to ignore him. It’s the same for sub-par music. People will walk around all day and tell you how terrible this album is that people have been waiting for for a couple of weeks, but then if you turn around and ask somebody “what are you listening to, what are you checkin’ for?” that’s really the only way that you’re gonna be able to pass along an idea of what to go get. As opposed to just focusing all your energy on being negative towards what you’re not liking, be an advocate for what you are liken’:  That’s the way to make a difference.

Fusic: Which is more difficult for you to master of the three elements: emcee, DJ or producer?


J-Live: To master, I’d say producing only because I haven’t been doing that as long as I’ve been rhyming. I’ve been rhyming since, like I said, 11, 12 years old. It’s just sort of a part of my being. But as a producer you have to be able to evolve with the technology and every day is a learning experience from one beat to the next and one song to the next, from one mix down to the next, and there’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to do things that you learn and you sort of develop a work flow, so I’d say producing, the most challenging, but I’m passionate about all three.


Fusic: Are you touring soon with this new album?


J-Live: That’s the plan, we’re talking about doing an east coast run, heading back over to Europe in the winter, going to South Africa at the end of the year. I mean I’ve been around so many times, it’s just a matter of making my way out west, making my way down south, getting back up to Canada.

But record or no record, we do shows year-round. I wouldn’t say we tour year-round, but we do shows year-round, do DJ gigs as well, so we’ll definitely be bombing the Fusicology site with flyers in the near future.

It’s a great time as far as my career goes, being the first full-length off the imprint “Triple Threat” I’m looking forward to using this as a catalyst to put out other younger artists that are comin’ up the way I was comin’ up back then. I make my self pretty accessible through social media, so definitely hit me on twitter, I’ll hit you back. I’ll follow you back. []


Fusic: Have you noticed that the social media boom has helped your status grow?


J-Live: Oh yeah, we try to take advantage of every outlet available, whether it be college radio, independent radio, the few shots we get on commercial radio, so obviously internet radio and just social media in general. For the smart artist, you definitely wanna make the most of it.

Interview by:

Ani Yapundzhyan

Music Monday 11/28 – NEW RELEASE: Kidz In The Hall ‘Occasion’ Album Out Now on Duck Down Music

Kidz In The Hall, the hip-hop duo consisting of emcee Naledge & producer Double-O, took a creative approach to the recording process of their new album ‘Occasion.’ In March of this year, with support from Red Bull & Adidas, Kidz In The Hall laid down the foundation for the project with a core objective in mind…HAVE FUN! The group invited fans into their world to see first-hand how they construct an album. Over the course of a few weeks they recorded in Red Bull studios, played in an Adidas basketball tournament with Snoop Dogg, threw parties at their LA house in the hills (for creative inspiration of course), played pranks and performed with Chris Brown. The reality show ‘Here Now’ documented the making of ‘Occasion.’ The 6-part series was hosted by MTV2.COM as part of their Sucker Free segment.

Today fans can enjoy the 14-track album featuring David Banner, Marsha Ambrosius, Bun B, Freddie Gibbs, Esthero, Suliamn, Anton Genius & more. The iTunes version features bonus tracks, including a song with Curren$y.

According to Naledge “this album is by far our best work. All artists usually feel that way, but in my honest opinion our mental space wasn’t as positive for the last album. We didn’t rush this project and we made sure we had fun crafting it. Occasion is the soundtrack to letting one’s everyday problems go and focusing on the celebration at hand. Life should be a celebration.”

iTunes Deluxe Version

Amazon Digital

Duck Down Shop

Music Videos off ‘Occasion:’

Break It Down
Break It Down

@kidzinthehall /
@naledgeKIDZ /
@double0KIDZ /

The GiveEnds Benefit Compilation Vol. 1 Out Now

THE GIVENDS Benefit Compilation Vol. 1 (20 tracks)
(ONLY AVAIL. Digitally 11/20-12/25, 2011)

An collaborative artists effort to raise funds and awareness for programs incorporating the arts for underprivileged and at risk youth.






Jonti featuring The Stepkids & Illa-J, Tanya Morgan, Duck Sauce, Gangrene featuring Prodigy, Soul Khan, PremRock & Willie Green featuring C-Rayz Walz, Soul Khan & DJ Addikt, Jahta, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib


Nostalgia 77, Handz On Heat, The GIVENDS Benefit Compilation, DJScrap Dirty, DJ Underdog, yU

FREE DOWNLOAD: Jonti featuring The Stepkids & Illa-J, “The Days Have Turned”

FREE DOWNLOAD: Tanya Morgan, “You & What Army”

FREE DOWNLOAD: Duck Sauce, “Big Bad Wolf (Craze & Codes Remix)”

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Alchemist & Oh No are Gangrene featuring Prodigy, “Dump Truck”

FREE DOWNLOAD: Soul Khan, “Lord Knows Freestyle”

FREE DOWNLOAD: PremRock & Willie Green featuring C-Rayz Walz, Soul Khan & DJ Addikt, “Had To Be Me”

FREE DOWNLOAD: Jahta, “A Boss Syleena Remix”

FREE DOWNLOAD: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, “Thuggin’”

PODCAST: Nostalgia 77, “Sleepwalker (Single & Remixes)”

PODCAST: Handz On Heat, “Karizma Interview & DJ Tipz Guest Mix”

PODCAST: The GIVENDS Benefit Compilation, “Volume 1″

PODCAST: DJScrap Dirty, “Soulful House Mixtape ‘Relax’ Vol.1″

PODCAST: DJ Underdog, “Africa Undone 2″

PODCAST: yU, “A Garbage Beat Tape”


Donn T Releases “Grass Is Greener” on Limestone Recordings

Limestone Recordings is excited to announce its newest release entitled “Grass Is Greener,” by the extremely talented singer & songwriter Donn T.

Donn T is no stranger to the music industry. Besides her album Kaleidoscopic which was released in 2010 on More About Music, Donn T has a very impressive background. Not only has she written for the likes of Common & Jill Scott, Donn T has shared the stage with prolific artists such as Marsha Ambrosius, Little Dragon, Amy Winehouse, Zap Mama, Nelly Furtado, John Legend, Black Joe Lewis & The Honey Bears and her brother Ahmir ?uestloveThompson. Her music has been featured on compilations & films across the globe. Be on the look out for her second album Right Angle which will be released in 2012.

Original Track


Produced by Matthew Bandy, “Grass is Greener” is a beautifully melancholic synth-soul number that is sure to please the broken beat & modern soul connoisseurs alike. Lyrically, this song is a heartfelt ode to following your dreams, and will sound like a reaffirmation to anyone who has treaded their own path, had set backs but the strength & will to keep moving forward. It’s about hope. Donn T is more than a song writer, she is indeed a poet.


In addition to the original, underground House music producer Matthew Bandy rounds off the package with a signature interpretation. His mix has a balanced combination of darker Detroit inspired sounds for the verse and lush analogue synths for the chorus that swim around his trademark drum programming. The mix takes its time to build a deep yet warm foundation for Donn T’s vocals.

Matthew Bandy’s Hood Green mix Listen here:



J*DaVeY: New Designer Drug [Album Stream]

Four long years, and a few impressive EPs later, J*DaVeY has finally released their long awaited LP today, New Designer Drug. The genre bending duo released the LP on their self-built creative imprint ILLAV8R. NDD contains 11 tracks and will be available as a free bonus when you purchase NDD: The Liner Notes digital booklet via for just $2.99. The Liner Notes features lyrics, exclusive tour photos, a foreword from LA Weekly’s Rebecca Haithcoat, and a detailed explanation of the group’s journey from before they were signed to Warner Bros. until now as told by Miss Jack Davey.

“Seeing this project through has been a test of strength, will, and ultimate patience. On this day of final delivery, I feel the same empowerment I felt the day we started this long awaited album,” says Jack. The album features guest appearances and influences from an army of talented producers, songwriters, and vocalists including Polyester The Saint, Khari Ferrari, Thundercat, Kenneth Crouch, ?uestlove, Greg Wells, Dave Sitek, and more. $2.99 is a steal for this album, but if you need further convincing, you can stream it here.

Track listing:

1. Listen

2. Queen of Wonderland

3. Watchalookin@

4. Kill 4 Fun

5. Rock That Ship

6. Turn the Lights Out

7. Little Tramp$

8. Topsy Turvy

9. MaMa’s Back

10. This One

11. Anything Goes

Music Monday 11/21 – INTERVIEW: Fusicology Talks To Saul Williams

words by: Ani Yapundzhyan


On his new LP, Volcanic Sunlight, Saul Williams is saying more with less, finding clarity in his voice and appreciating the fact that Love trumps ambition.


Fusicology: Was it difficult or frustrating for you to make this album with minimal words when you are used to expressing yourself so profusely?


Saul: To me, poetry has never truly been based on language. Poetry in my perspective, is based in perspective. And so the first poems that I wrote for this album was actually the music. I wrote the music for every song first before there were words even. And to me, the music didn’t call for a lot of words. And so when I’m making an album, I like to make the music dictate the direction.


And so, no. Was it frustrating at all? In fact, it was liberating. Because I use words, sometimes I use a lot of words, sometimes too many words, to get a point across. But I’ve always felt that a drumbeat, a chord, a sound, can bring about the same emotion or feeling without words. Cause to me, that’s how I’ve always been moved by music. Music has always effected me strongly. I don’t’ think I’d write, if there were no music, period.


Even if I’m not writing for music, I’m mostly inspired to write by music.


And I’m not only inspired to write; but I’m calmed down, I’m amped up, you know, like, the effect that music has on emotions-is strong. It’s strong, but it’s also subtle. And I think with time, one of the things I’ve come to appreciate in the art is subtlty and nuance.


I’ve often searched to say more by saying less. Yeah, that’s why I wrote “Coded Language” in 1999. I wouldn’t write the same song in 2009. If I wrote it in 2009, it could be a haiku.


Fusic: It’s true. Sometimes I will hear a song being sung in a different language and I feel all the emotions, goosebumps, etc without even understanding the words.


Saul: Exactly…exactly. The goal of it is usually to transcend language. That’s the goal.


Fusic: Just to be clear, did you write all of the music for your album? Because you mentioned that you wrote the music first.


Saul: Yeah, I did. I wrote all the music on the album. But that’s not new for me. All of my albums, people have always talked a lot about the lyrics, and I guess they’ve assumed that I’m always working with people that make music. That’s never truly been the case. Even when I worked with Trent Reznor, the majority of the songs were written by me. Musically.


Fusic: How was that collaboration with Reznor as far as energies were concerned?


Saul: Oh, that was beautiful. It’s the sort of thing that you can’t really plan. Trent and I have synergy. Where we didn’t really have to communicate a lot with words.I met him at a point where I was looking for a particular sound and he met me at a point where he was looking for a particular sound.  And we both kind of found that sound together.


So it was beautiful. It was extremely synergetic. And its the sort of thing that when it happens, it happens, and you can’t really try to…to do it again or to force it, there was nothing forced about Niggy Tardust!


It’s the same thing with this album. The difference between Trent and this new producer is that Trent is more of an artist than he is a producer, so it was really a lot of collaboration in the sense that the sounds that he would choose to express himself are sounds that many people could hear and associate with Nine Inch Nails. Which is to say that his signature was in a lot of the music that he contributed. And the producer that I worked with for Volcanic Sunlight -his name is Renauld Letang- Renauld is someone that like has produced Feist and Manu Chao, Jamiroquia, artists I’ve loved over the years-but what he’s most know for is really helping the artist find their own voice and not really putting his voice in.


What he does more so is he brings out the clarity of the individual voice that he’s producing. And for me, that’s what I wanted to do after working with Trent. Was to do a collaboration and the idea of somebody else’s voice sonically coming into my work. And really known’ my own voice. But it was beautiful working with Trent.


A: When I saw Reznor live with NIN, I likened him to a classical composer. I really felt as if he were leading a symphony.


S: Well, that’s very accurate actually because Trent was a classical pianist prodigy as a kid. That’s why his relationship with music is how it is. The fact is his whole learning method came through studying classical music. That’s why he’s so great at structure and format. It’s because of that. So what he did is that he learned how to take the abstract sounds and place them into a classical format. And that’s pretty much what I learned from Trent: was how to do that. That’s why I wanted to work with him, is because I was studying the format.


A: How long have you been living in France?


S: I’ve lived in France for two years.


A: What made you want to move there from LA and what is the biggest difference between the two locations?


S: First, my reason for moving here was simple: I wanted to work with Renauld Letang, he works out of Paris. So either I would have to come here for a few months to work with him or I needed to just come here and live.


The main difference, if I were to speak theoretically, culturally between the US and France …I write poetry. I’d be a fool to refute the idea of being a romantic. In many ways, I’m a romantic. By perspective of reality of life, of love, a romantic. And I think that in the States in general for many, and definitely in cities like LA, ambition comes before love.


And me, I found that really frustrating because I have this compassion for humanity, this “We can change the world”  and I sometimes interact with executives or what have you who would think they were trying to talk reality into my head, “But be realistic: what you need to do is this, that and the other.”


And me, I disagreed. I didn’t think that ambition had to be the leading force in how I put together anything from my album to my love life. And in France, I don’t think that ambition is the first thing that comes to mind here.


Here, for instance: France scores higher in education than the United States, right? But In America there are 189 days in the school year. In France there are 135 per school year. Their kids go to school much less, the people work much less hours than the United States. Why? Because they value what they do outside of the job. You’re finding people that are like “Oh, I can’t work overtime because I have to meet my girlfriend” and the boss will be like, “Oh yeah, yeah, don’t make your girlfriend upset.”


That’s the difference. (laughs)


Fusic: So in a way, it’s the structure of life itself, like out here we have to be ambitious all the time because there is no forseable alternative. “If I hang out with my girlfriend for an extra thirty minutes, I’m gonna lose out on this money” We are reacting to the way that society is structured.


Saul: Well yeah, it does very much have to do with the fact that it’s a Socialist structure here. So they’re guaranteed time off, not only when they’re pregnant or when they’re sick, but they’re guaranteed time off. And so there isn’t this constant fear of losing your job if you don’t show up…it’s not like Socialism is a win/win structure. There are other things that come up as a result, so its complicated. I can’t I say that people live a more liberated life, or live more freely. But I think that they may be, like I said, just free from all-out ambitious pursuits. For that consuming 100% of who you are.


But as a result, we innovate a lot of things in America as a result of that Capitalistic ambitious pursuit. It all depends. So I can’t say that I prefer one place to the other, I think that the most important thing is a balance. But yeah, when I look at things, the first thing I noticed was that Love trumped ambition in France. And in America, I feel that it’s the other way around, ambition trumps love.


Fusic: I think that it could be said for quite a few Foreign countries. I can just tell by looking at somebody, they don’t even have to say a word, that they were not raised in the United States.


Saul: Yeah. And then the other difference I would say is that in many ways America and Americans are self-consumed. That brings us back to education and knowledge of the world, or a world outside of America. Only 14% of Americans have passports. Which is to say that 86% of Americans do not have passports.


(Voice becomes forbidding) Which is to say that when we talk about how crazy something is in another country and what’s going on over there and our need to bomb them or control them or police them, most of us have no idea what the fuck what we’re talking about.


Fusic: And when your only source of information is the biased news, most of it now owned by Rupert Murdoch, not only don’t you know but you’re being fed all the wrong things.


Saul: Yeah. Information is not as free in America as it seems. And then based on the educational structure, you can actually start to place an argument around the idea of America being a fundamentalist nation. When they think of the world, they think of how they can plant their flag in it.


Fusic: Have you started your “Occupy All Streets” World Tour yet?


S: Yeah for the past month and a half, I’ve been touring Europe, and in February I’ll start touring the US and Canada.


A: Is this feeling of dissent being felt on a world-wide scale?


S: Oh, yeah. I’ve seen The “Occupy” in Switzerland, I’ve seen The Occupy in Holland, I’ve seen The Occupy in France, I’ve seen The Occupy in Romania, I’ve seen The Occupy in Madrid, I’ve seen the Occupy in Senegal, I’ve seen The Occupy in England, I’ve seen Occupy in Belgium. Non-stop. Everywhere.


It’s imported. Like here we go again, right? This is the American perspective. Like all of a sudden, everybody’s talking about “Occupy” as if it’s not inspired by what started in Tunisia, in Egypt, in the beginning of this year. This is a wave that didn’t start in America, but as soon as it gets to America, America owns it as if it started there. (laughs) See what I’m saying?


Fusic: Because we’re very good at labeling things.


Saul: Branding them, yes. (laughs)


Saul: Because in Egypt, it was real. The protestors weren’t worried about what to call it, they were protesting. They were doing it because it was some real shit. Over here it’s like “Let’s call it ‘Occupy’” and now there are commercials like “Occupy our car sale.”


S: Yeah. It’s craaaaazy how quickly that gets commodified into a Capitalist structure. It’s something that we have to be careful of. We have to be careful of. You know, I’m optimistic about the whole “Occupy” movement. To me, it’s something I feel that I’ve been investing in since I started speaking publicly, reciting poems and making music, like every single thing I’ve ever released has been pointed towards exactly what’s happening right now.


Fusic: So you do think that it’s a realistic catalyst for change?


Saul: I know that when I look at everything that’s occurred in the world in history, like Ghandi starting the Natal Indian Congress when he was 25 years old, Martin Luther King starting to march when he was 23, Jesse Jackson starting to work when he was 15, Angela Davis starting to protest when she was 17, you know, its always the youth. It’s always the youth. So I don’t believe for a minute that young people are too naive, or too idealist to have a clear perspective of the change that’s possible. So yeah, I think that it can mean something.


Because what it also means is that many people are staring to realize that the government structure, the structure of the government itself is not necessarily set up to help everyone. Now what seems to become more and more clear and transparent to everyone is that everyone needs education. Everyone needs food.  Everyone needs to have a certain amount of inalienable rights that should be guaranteed, especially if you’re living in the richest country in the world.


Fusic: And supposedly the freest, too.


Saul: Yeah. Supposedly.


Fusic: I’ve noticed that you don’t have one single featured guest artist on your album. And these days, especially in hip hop, to make a record, you have to have like 7 guests on each track. 12 singers on the next. Was this a conscious effort?


Saul: Actually, I do have a guest on the album, I just didn’t publicize it. I have a guest on my song, “Dance,” there’s a woman singing and that woman is Janelle Monae.


Fusic: What an awesome guest to have, if you’re going to have any guest. It’s so wonderful to see a female get down as hard as she does in this state of music.


Saul: Oh yeah, she’s a pinnacle.


Fusic: I read a quote from you, you were saying “I’m courageous enough to live my life as a poem.” Can you explain?


S: It’s kind of what I was saying in the beginning [of this interview], is that to me, poetry is not based in language. It’s based in perspective. I’m extremely interested in things like traveling and learning other languages, communicating with other cultures. I’ve backpacked through several countries. I love meeting people and trying new things. You know, like next week I’m taking a tango class (chuckles) I’m taking a percussion class, I’m taking capoeira. I’m learning how to cook Phu, or Vietnamese soup. So it’s all of those things that go into living life as a poem. In my perspective, its just being open. Being open to the possibility of change and difference and nuance so I hope that makes sense.


Fusic: Absolutely. What’s up, do you Bboy?


Saul: Yeah, I did when I was like 12. (laughs) I might still have a little somethin’ in me…


Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Bob Avakian, Reflects On The “Occupy” Movement

By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

The main—and, up to this point at least, the overwhelming—aspect of these “Occupy” protests has been their very positive thrust: in mobilizing people to stand up against injustice and inequality and the domination of economic, social and political life, and international relations, by a super-rich elite class whose interests are in opposition to those of the great majority of people; and in contributing in significant ways to an atmosphere in which people are raising and wrangling with big questions about the state of society and the world and whether and how something much better can be brought into being. It will be a very good thing if these protests continue to spread and further develop, with this basic thrust and this positive impact. And these “Occupy” protests can be a significant positive factor in contributing to the revolution that is needed—IF this is approached, by those with the necessary scientific communist understanding, in accordance with that understanding and the strategic orientation and approach that flows from it.

At the same time, and in keeping with this understanding, it is also very important, indeed crucial, to compellingly make the case, for broad and growing numbers of people (both those who are involved in these protests and people more generally), that the idea (or ideal), which at this point has considerable currency among many involved in or supportive of these protests—that a “horizontal” (as opposed to a “hierarchal”) movement can in itself serve as a means of major social change and perhaps even a model of a different society—this idea (or ideal) does not and cannot measure up to the reality of what is actually required to fundamentally uproot and transform a society, and indeed a world, marked by and grounded in profound inequalities and relations of oppression and exploitation, within every country and in the domination by a handful of powerful, imperial powers over the great majority of countries in the world and the great mass of humanity. To uproot and transform all this requires nothing less than an unprecedented revolution: a radical overturning of the entrenched, and violently repressive, ruling forces and imperial powers who now dominate human social existence, and the deep-seated economic, social and political relations of exploitation and oppression of which they are the embodiment and enforcers. And to achieve such a radical overturning and transforming requires a scientific approach to the strategic orientation, program, and organization that is actually required for the revolution that is really needed.

This revolution is necessary not only in order to deal with the basic, and antagonistic, relation in which the masses of people are ruled over by an exploiting class representing a small part of society, but also in order to transform the relations between different sections of the people themselves—including the transformation of the contradiction between those who (primarily) engage in physical labor and those who (primarily) engage in intellectual labor (the mental/manual contradiction)—in such a way that these relations no longer involve oppression and no longer contain the seeds of antagonism. Without such a revolution, even very positive developments, such as what is represented, in its main thrust and content, by the “Occupy” protests, will ultimately run into their limits. Such a movement cannot be extended linearly, and in its present form, into the radical change that is fundamentally needed. As with very positive movements in the past (including the very broad and very radical movements of the 1960s), left to their own spontaneous course (that is, without the necessary process of revolutionary communists uniting with and working to build these struggles but also working to provide direction to divert things onto a more fully and consciously revolutionary path) these movements, even while they can involve truly large numbers of people and have a very positive impact, will eventually be repressed and/or dissipated, and/or brought under the domination of the ruling class, in one form or another—unless masses of people involved in them are won to, become firmly convinced of, the need to develop the struggle further, into a movement for revolution, with the necessary understanding and organization—yes, including the necessary structure and leadership—that is required to finally sweep away this system and bring into being a radically new system with the aim of ultimately abolishing all exploitation and oppression.

In fact, as positive as things like the “Occupy” protests are, and despite the sincere intent and efforts of a great many involved in them, they cannot fundamentally provide the means for “equal participation” by people from different parts of society, since the very nature and functioning of the capitalist-imperialist system—in its historical development in this country, down to the present time, and in its international relations of exploitation, oppression, plunder and depredation—results in a situation where, within U.S. society itself (and in an even more pronounced way on an international level), there are profound and deeply rooted inequalities between different sections of people, which cannot be overcome within the framework and confines of this system and its fundamental relations and dynamics. Along with oppressive divisions based on race (or nationality), gender and sexual orientation, there are, within this society, significant differences in economic and social position. There are layers of people who are part of what is broadly referred to as the “middle class” and who generally occupy a more privileged position, in terms of access to education (and the whole realm of working with ideas), better-paying jobs and the benefits that go along with this, and a life relatively free of constant and intense repression, so long as they do not “step out of line,” and yet they are subordinated to and, yes, dictated to by the ruling class of this country and, especially in these times, they find the quality of their lives and their prospects for the future significantly demeaned and diminished and many feel increasingly acute anger and disgust at basic inequalities, injustices and outrages which are in fact built into and expressive of the very fabric and nature of this system. At the same time, there are tens of millions, especially among those in the inner cities and the immigrants, who are deeply discriminated against and heavily weighed down under this system, which subjects them to the most profound and bitter exploitation, oppression and repression, binding them in chains which, in ultimate and fundamental terms, can only be broken by shattering the grip of this system and fully dismantling its apparatus of violent repression. As is demonstrated in the “Occupy” movement, there is a basis for a broad unity among these different sections of the people—in opposition to many of the manifestations of the oppressive and truly murderous nature of this system, and in a basic searching for a better way that human beings could relate to each other—but that unity cannot eliminate nor cancel out the reality and the effects of the profound inequalities that are so deeply rooted in this system and will continue to have force and effect so long as this system remains in power and its relations and dynamics set the fundamental and ultimate terms for things. This is yet another expression of the fact that nothing short of revolution, with a leadership grounded in a communist understanding and orientation, can fully penetrate to the depths of, let alone uproot, the relations that oppress and divide masses of people.

While uniting with the basic and very positive thrust of the “Occupy” protests; while continuing to work to broaden and deepen them; and while learning as much as can be learned from the already rich experience of these protests and the initiative and creativity, as well as determination, shown by many involved in them, it is crucial to influence and win more and more people to seriously engage with the scientific communist understanding and orientation—particularly as this is embodied in the outlook and strategic approach of our Party, the RCP, and in a concentrated way in the new synthesis of communism that I have brought forward over the past few decades and that I am continuing to work to further develop. For, once more, as emphasized in the first supplement in BAsics,* this is not “our thing,” in some narrow and sectarian sense—it is what, in accordance with the deepest reality, is required to end the outrages and injustices continually perpetrated by this system, and the horrendous suffering to which this continually subjects the great majority of humanity, and to bring into being a radically new and better society and world.

Once again, this understanding is crucial not only in an overall and basic sense, but also more specifically in relation—in opposition—to the idea of a “leaderless revolution” and related concepts, which are not in accord with the reality that must be confronted and transformed, in order to truly achieve the kind of world that many in the “Occupy” movement are searching and struggling for.

* “Reform or Revolution, Questions of Orientation, Questions of Morality,” supplement of Chapter 1, “Worldwide System of Exploitation and Oppression,” BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian (Chicago: RCP Publications, 2011), pages 25-32. Originally published in Revolution#32, January 29, 2006, and available online here

Eric B & Rakim To Be Added To Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

When emcee extraordinaire Rakim and his right-hand man, producer Eric B., arrived on the scene in the mid-Eighties, they ushered in a revolution. Before them, acts like RUN DMC and LL Cool J were rap’s vanguard – rock-solid leading man types who built their songs around bold, direct declarations.

Rakim dared to dream bigger. A sophisticated, cerebral character, he explored unheard-of levels of wordplay in his lyrics, packing each line with internal rhymes and complex syllable patterns that fans and fellow artists spent weeks analyzing. The two friends from Long Island were barely out of their teens when they recorded their debut single, “Eric B Is President” (1986). Eric B. looped up a hard-hitting, funky James Brown sample, setting the stage for Rakim to unspool three verses of inspired poetry: “I came in the door/I said it before/I never let the mic magnetize me no more/But it’s biting me, fighting me, inviting me to rhyme…” That endlessly quotable song scored them a major-label deal in no time. They emphatically delivered on its promise with their first LP, Paid In Full (1987), and continued to sharpen their skills on Follow The Leader (1988), the tougher-sounding Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em (1989) and their swan song, Don’t Sweat The Technique (1992). All four albums were hugely influential – it is difficult to imagine contemporary stars like Jay-Z and Eminem existing at all without them. Eric B. & Rakim parted ways after six years as a duo, but the body of work they created in that time remains monumental.

The legendary duo are to finally be recognized by the institution as next year’s ceremony will mark twenty-five years since the release of their prolific debut single, “Eric B is President”.

Eric B and Rakim have been shortlisted among 15 other acts to be included in the ballot for next year’s ceremony. In order to be inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, nominees must have released a debut single/album a minimum of twenty-five years ago, hence the duo’s long wait.

The Hall announced the names on September 27, also revealing that Gun N’ Roses, Joan Jett, and The Cure were also up for the honor, alongside previously nominated acts such as the Beastie Boys, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and War.

Rakim is revered in the hip-hop community for his complex rhymes and delivery. He is credited as influencing some of today’s biggest rap stars. But, he got his first taste of success in the late 1980s as a part of the duo known as Eric B. and Rakim, both from Queens, New York. Their hit catalog includes singles like “Eric B Is President,” “I Aint No Joke,” “Juice (Know the Ledge)”, and “Microphone Fiend.”

The nominees were chosen by 40 critics and musicologists who serve on the hall’s nominating committee. Following the nominee announcements, the ballots will now be sent to a larger group of 500 critics, musicians and industry professionals who vote on them.

Every year, the hall inducts at least five artists or groups from the list. The choices are set to be announced in late November, and a ceremony will be held to honor the inductees on April 14.

Artists become eligible for the Hall Of Fame 25 years after their debut album or single.

To date, only two hip-hop acts have been inducted into the hall. They are Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Run-DMC.

The 2012 nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are:

• Beastie Boys

• The Cure

• Donovan

• Eric B. & Rakim

• Guns ‘N Roses

• Heart

• Joan Jett and The Blackhearts

• Freddie King

• Laura Nyro

• Red Hot Chili Peppers

• Rufus with Chaka Khan

• The Small Faces/The Faces

• The Spinners

• Donna Summer

• War

The induction ceremony will take place in Cleveland in April. A 10-day celebration of the induction’s return to Cleveland will be filled with a full slate of events, including:

• The 27th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall

• The grand opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame library and archives

• Unveiling of a newly-redesigned museum exhibit space

• Opening of a new blockbuster exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

• Free concert for Cleveland

• Rock My Soul: A Gospel Tribute

• Free museum day presented by Medical Mutual of Ohio

• Hall of Fame Series with a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee

• National broadcast of the Museum’s award-winning On The Road education program, featuring a guest appearance by a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee

• National digital learning project showcase.

The ceremony will be open to the public. Tickets go on sale to the public in December. Tables and VIP packages are available now: