Monday, October 27, 2014

New Video, Upworthy Again, #NotYourMascot Protest, Big First Ave Show, Other News

I finally reached 10k Facebook likes. In honor of that not really meaning anything, here's one of those "a million things happening at once" posts:

1. New spoken-word video for "Level Up: My Autobiography as a Learner"

I'm in grad school right now, and this was something I wrote for class. I didn't intend to make a video for it, but I think it captures some thoughts, tensions, and questions I've had about education-- and about educational systems-- for a while. If you're a student, staff, faculty or other person invested in education (or you just want to hear me talk for ten minutes), check it out.

2. Upworthy posted my poem "Action"
This is my third time on Upworthy. Grateful for the signal-boost, especially for a poem like this.

3. #NotYourMascot Protest this Sunday in Minneapolis
Washington is in town to play the Vikings this Sunday, and local organizers are preparing what's shaping up to be the biggest protest yet against the Washington team. Starts at 8:30am and ends up at TCF Bank Stadium at 10am. Find all the info here.

4. I'll be performing at Keith Ellison's annual GOTV concert that night
Also on Sunday, I'll be performing at this big show at First Ave. along with Toki Wright & Big Cats, Heiruspecs, Sims and more. Of course, my thoughts on voting, Democrats, and election season are nuanced and complex, but that's kind of why I wanted to play this show. It should be a lot of fun. Click the flyer for tickets and more info:

5. A Million Other Things.
Stay tuned here, and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook for info and updates on some other big projects, including:
  • A huge year coming up for TruArtSpeaks, the organization I work with.
  • I got published in a book. Like, a real hold-it-in-your-hands, made-of-dead-trees book. The book is about Eminem of all things; Talib Kweli wrote the foreword, and I wrote the afterword: I think it's one of the best things I've ever written. I will post more in-depth on this later, hopefully with some thoughts on the book as a whole.
  • My new sampler CD (including some brand new songs, remixes, poems, re-mastered tracks and basically a collection of the best work I've done so far) isn't officially out for a while still, but it's totally out right now, if you can find me in real life.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Video for "Riverbed," the First Song From My New Project

This song was produced by Ganzobean, and shot/edited by Adam J. Dunn for his #LAAB series. We wanted to shoot something nontraditional, something that might communicate vulnerability, just a straight three minutes of my face, close up. I wouldn't normally do that for a video, but this song and its subject matter demanded a different approach.

If you like it, or if you can relate to it, or if you think someone, somewhere, might find something good in it, sharing is always appreciated.

This also happens to be the first song from my upcoming project, "A LOVE SONG, A DEATH RATTLE, A BATTLE CRY." It's a book, plus a compilation CD featuring some brand new songs, some never-before-heard remixes, some re-mastered versions of older songs, and basically, the best work I've ever done, all in one place. More info coming soon. Thanks for listening.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wednesday: SHUT IT DOWN: A Night of Hip Hop, Poetry and Action to Disrupt Street Harassment

Twin Cities people: hope you can make it to this show. We're raising money for a very good cause, signal-boosting people through an interactive sign-making/photo-booth kinda thing, and showcasing a hell of a lineup of artists. Facebook event page here.

It'll also be an opportunity to plug into some of the work that's being done here in the TC around rape culture and sexual assault prevention-- organizations like SVC and the Aurora Center will be tabling, with resources and contact info.

This issue is important to me because I've found that making the connections between so-called "little things" and larger realities of harm and oppression is a central part of the work. It's easy for someone who doesn't experience catcalling, or online harassment, or other forms of harassment to write it off as no big deal. But it is a big deal. This stuff directly relates to systems of power and domination that make sexual assault on college campuses, in the military, and everywhere so horrifically widespread.

This event is about continuing to cultivate a platform of resistance, plugging people into organizations, and throwing a beautiful show at the same time. Hope to see you there.

Other Resources:

"Next Time Someone Says Women Aren't Victims Of Harassment, Show Them This"

Interview with Feminista Jones about #YouOkSis at the Atlantic

"Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street"

Zerlina Maxwell on Street Harassment, Catcalling, and Rape Culture at Ebony

Interview with Tatyana Fazlalizadeh of "Stop Telling Women to Smile" at the Daily Beast

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Preview/Review of Toki Wright & Big Cats' PANGAEA

(UPDATE: the album is available now)

I didn't have song titles on my advance copy of Toki Wright & Big Cats' new album "Pangaea." I was about to email to ask for them, but got distracted by the music. And maybe that's part of the point. This isn't just a collection of hot songs-- it's a cohesive, intentional, capital-A Album. A statement. A manifesto.

It's also a left turn. When I heard that my favorite producer (full disclosure: "Guante & Big Cats" also exists) was collaborating with someone whom I've said may be the most underrated MC in all of U.S. hip hop, may be the best pure MC in the saturated Twin Cities scene, and is definitely one of the smartest, sharpest hip hop artists you'll find anywhere... well, I anticipated something different. Maybe something a little more meat-and-potatoes, a high-level "beats and bars" type of rap album.

Because this duo could have done that, and it would have been magnificent. What we have instead, is something just as rich, and just as rewarding, but not nearly so "easy."

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Brand New Poem via Button Poetry: QUICKSAND + The Urgency Gap and How We Respond to Injustice

First of all, thanks once again to Button Poetry for the massive signal boost. The work that they've done over the past two years has been really important, in ways that I don't think a lot of us are recognizing in the present.

As for this poem, I wrote it after #Ferguson, but it's more broadly about how we respond to injustice, especially when we're not directly affected by that injustice. How do white people respond to racial violence? How do men respond to sexual assault statistics? How to wealthy people respond to hunger and homelessness,? Etc.

To be clear, I think there is a continuum of responses-- some of the stuff highlighted in this poem is negative, some of it is fine, some of it is positive, a lot of it is connected-- but it's all about highlighting what I think of as "the urgency gap," how we're so quick to treat other people's life-and-death struggles as an intellectual or emotional exercise.

I'm guilty of this too. Part of the reason I wrote this poem is that it's a reminder to myself that signal-boosting is good and necessary, talking about privilege is good and necessary, writing poems is good and necessary-- but we can't lose sight of the central importance of organizing, working collaboratively to act on these problems. All of those other responses and actions are necessary to support that organizing work, but the issue, as I see it, is that they're not enough by themselves.

And far too often, they're all we give.

Related: my post from last week "This is Not a Think  Piece: Turning Outrage into Action from Ferguson to the Twin Cities," a collection of resources, interviews, links to organizations and more for anyone who wants to get involved in organizing against police brutality.

Related: my post from right after the Zimmerman verdict, about a lot of the same issues.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This Is Not a Think Piece: Turning Outrage into Action from Ferguson to the Twin Cities

After officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO on August 9, my twitter feed exploded with links, articles, calls to action, commentary and analysis. Right here in the Twin Cities, organizations that had been working on issues of police brutality sprang into action alongside new organizations and concerned individuals; events were planned and executed, and activists of all experience levels got to work answering the question “what now?”

While rallies, marches, social media campaigns and protests can be powerful, their power can only be fully realized when tied to long term organizing campaigns. How can we focus the heightened awareness around police brutality into concrete policy change (like, for example, police body cameras)? How can we plug people who have been radicalized (or at least further politicized) by #Ferguson in to the work that is being done? How can we turn this moment into a movement?

What follows is a collection of interviews, links and resources for anyone in our community who believes that change is needed. Racially-motivated police brutality is a national issue, but from Fong Lee to Terrance Franklin to Al Flowers and beyond, it is also very much a local one. The good news is that we can do something about it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sifu Hotman (Guante x deM atlaS x Rube): First Ave Funeral

We're honored to be part of Adam J. Dunn's #LAAB (Lights and a Backdrop) video series. This is the series' 8th (!) season. I also had a song way back in season 2, and I might have a surprise coming later.

This batch also features new music from Toki Wright & Big Cats, Chantz Erolin, Longshot and more. Check out all eight seasons HERE, and get a great look at what makes the Twin Cities music scene so special.

I love this song. Hope you enjoy it. Get the whole album here.