Why are you doing a solo project? What’s good with you and stic.man?
Well, everything is good with me and stic.man. He’s always gonna be there. dead prez is not just a rap group; we’re family. I decided to do a solo album because I thought he deserved to hear what M1 would do with a solo album. I’ve been rapping with dead prez for over 10 years and I think people would like to hear what stic.man record or an M1 record would sound like. We have ideas not just as a group but as individuals as well. I got the perfect opportunity to do it as I started producing more and growing as an artist. When the opportunity arose for me to expose myself, I decided to take it.
Do you have any plans to do any Outkast-style “The Stic Below”?
I dunno. Maybe. If the idea presents itself, maybe. But be on the lookout for the solo stic.man album and the new dead prez album.
Do you have a title for the new dead prez album?
Just stay tuned.
Do you have a potential release date?
Not really. Late summer.
Why is the new album called Confidential?
I wanted to give people a look into my life as if you’re looking through the eyes of the government. They compile these files on everyone. George Bush has recently told us that what’s he’s been doing since this war and probably before the war. It’s a look at M1, into my personal life and everything that’s political about me. The so-called radical, the so-called controversial views which I think are views that derived from anybody’s who struggling to define what’s reality these days. The commonality is that we all have the ability to be these revolutionaries. That’s why they’re tapping our phones.
Do you know if the FBI has a file on you?
I know so and probably one for you too.
Do you have a favorite track on the album? Something special you think people should look for?
Well you have to listen to the whole album. There’s not gonna be one track that’s gonna do it for you. I don’t even make albums that way. I’ve never learned to make an album by just making singles. I’m from the old school where you express yourself through many moods. For me, there are many different messages that I wanted to send. “One Side” which is one nation, one side through “Land, Bread, & Housing” featuring my mom which talks about the music game and where I got to today.
The lead single is “‘Til We Get There.” Where is “there”?
For me, it feels like self-determination. It feels like self-government, autonomy over our own lives. To be able educate ourselves and our children. One step forward in humanity, not one step backward. For me, in particular, it’s not even directly in America. I’d love to do that somewhere else, preferably in Africa. But “Til We Get There” means that we all have to live in the same kind of equality. The space and time we occupy. We don’t have to like each other, but we definitely have to respect each other. That’s part of “there.” The rest of the sentiment is “Til we get there/I’ll be by your side” which means we gotta work together so that we get there safely.
When you speak about self-determination or self-autonomy, are you speaking within the existing political structure or you speaking globally? Are you speaking for a separate state?
I do have an agenda but it ain’t even that deep. To have it anywhere in this space in time would be great. Whether it be in the U.S. or not in terms of having a separate state. If that’s how we gotta do it, then that’s how we do it. I just want to have it by any means necessary. There are several ways to do it, but I don’t have all the answers. However it happens, as long as it recognizes a kind of freedom that can’t be taken away, that’s what I’m talking about. I have an agenda but I don’t come to spread it that deep.
Do you think this is something that is split more race-wise or class-wise?
Both. They’re both characteristics. The race characteristic is only the product of the style of capitalism that we’ve been enduring for the last 500 years. It’s not a coincidence that the oppressors look white and the oppressed people look black. That’s not the rule, but the foundation of capitalism comes from the exploitation of African people and Mother Africa itself.
In the US, there are lot of black leaders who have made money from capitalism, but are calling for some of the same things in terms of social justice etc. Do you think that’s disingenuous? Do you think wealthy black people have the ability to exploit other black people?
No, not really. I think black people have the ability to participate in capitalism, but it doesn’t come in one paycheck. I’m talking about a legacy of capitalism. It’s not even a second thought for the ruling class and its children. But for us, we inherit the legacy of slavery and that debt. Also, we can’t pull ourselves out of that system. When we attempt to, we’re undermined by a system that does not want to see empowerment. I do think these black elite have to serve the working class point of view. It can’t just happen independently, because we have now amassed a little wealth.
So you think that black elites have a responsibility and their interests should probably fall in line with their working class brethren?
Well, they don’t have to. If they want to be Donald Trump, then that’s your agenda. I’m not saying that’s what you have to do because you’re black. I’m saying that’s what you have to do if you’re fucking human being that wants to stand on the right side of history. But everybody don’t want to do that. So you do what you want to do with your money. I hope I can find other black people with money who can help with that, but otherwise I’m gonna be down here in the hood, struggling.
Would you reserve judgment for black leaders who have accumulated wealth but don’t choose to help poor people?
I don’t. It took me 16 years to be exposed to the type of political education that made me who I am. For some people it might take 50 years. I have no judgment. But I get frustrated with people who don’t know and who don’t choose a side. You can’t be straddling the fence. You gotta make a decision. That’s the most critical point to bring people to, to bring them to point to make decision politically. Up until that, most of us are not cognizant of the political position before use today.
Earlier you said that wealthy black people don’t have the ability to exploit other black people.
But at the same time, in order to be a human being, their interests should line up if they want to be on the right side of history.
Does that seem inconsistent? If there are black elites in the US who doing things in Africa or are making unscrupulous decisions in the states, they should be held to the same standard, right?
Of course, they should be held to same standard, but that doesn’t define capitalism. There’re just an act. When you talk about the things in Africa that black people might be a part of, this is an overture that began before we were able to participate to this level. This is a new kind of phenomenon.
I agree. But for black Americans, don’t you think that they’re perpetuating the same system that has slaved blacks worldwide?
Yes, that’s true.
I’m just trying to get a sense that black Americans are responsible under the current capitalist schema. Let’s get back to the album. How’d you link up with K’naan?
I heard his music and we got connected because we know the same people. He lives in Kenya. I was listening to his music and after a while, we talked on the phone and I was able to meet up with him in Venezuela in Caracas at a conference. It was there I was able to do a song.
From your first album with dead prez, do you think there’s been an ideological shift? How has your agenda changed since “Hip Hop”?
Ideologically, there hasn’t been a huge shift. That may be a huge problem. I’m still in Africa, an internationalist. I still stand with the same people in the same kind of ways. I think the strategy to reach people has changed. Let’s Get Free came at a certain point of our development and our lives. We were putting out an album that was so far against the grain and it was just a theory. We were able to develop that theory further. There were things happening in the music industry. Then how we were promoted and there was who we were really aiming the album at and how we get at those people. And we’re trying to raise our families and babies. Politically we are in tune.
One of your new songs “Comrades Call” with Styles P talks about using guns and violence. How would you describe violence in terms of establishing self-determination?
Well it’s fictitious.
So you’re saying it’s more metaphorical than physical.
Based on reality though. Those events did happen….during the 1960s so I was just using my imagination.
Do you think that’s the kind of thing that’s happening now or only in the 60s?
Not even. This is the future. That’s why I did with Styles P. He can relate and he may not even know what’s going on in Southern California with the Black Liberation Army. It’s a way to move us forward. It’s an example of the path of resistance, the warrior spirit. I think opposed to some senseless violence or some crack selling violence. It helps me be creative.
Do you think violence can exist solely as a metaphor? Doesn’t metaphorical violence tend to manifest itself to actual violence? But if you don’t believe that violence is a tool to achieve liberation then it’s just a story…
I guess so. Violence exists in the world. People have been violent with me. I’m a martial artist, which is theory as well as physical. Is violence a way to achieve liberation? It’s the not the way, but it may be a strategy. We may have to employ it by any means necessary.
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