Hailing originally from Alaska, young rapper Tak Havoc is now based a bit further south in the state of Oregon. After discovering his latest album and collaboration with DJ Allegiance I chatted with him online and asked him a bit about his new album, titled Kill The Klan.
Scrolling through song titles such as Uncle Sam Is A Dikkk, Qualified Immunity and the title song Kill The Klan it is clear that although it is the year 2020 artists such as Tak find the need to play their part in tearing down old, ignorant and hateful structures.
Even if Tak told me that his music has not always been made in protest it seems to me that some activist creativity was dwelling inside him when you look at some of his musical inspirations – Pink Floyd, Dead Kennedys, Nina Simone, George Carlin – this young man has a voice and he was perhaps always meant to use it.
Halldór Kristínarson: You recently released your latest effort, a full length album called Kill The Klan. Can you tell me a bit about the process behind creating and recording this album and how it makes you feel to have to talk about the Klan in 2020?
Tak Havoc: The fact that it’s 2020 and we’re still trying to figure out how to completely eliminate hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan is disheartening, but not surprising. Passiveness is a HUGE problem here in America. Lots of people on both sides seem to have an issue with this, but when it comes to conservatives…it almost feels like they have a personal vendetta against decency.
So, when Ian (DJ Allegiance) and I were talking in July, I asked what kind of record he wanted to do.
He told me we needed to get political.
He sent me a good handful of gorgeous beats to choose from and we ended up crafting “Kill The Klan” over the last month and a half.
HK: What do you feel about the intersection between music and activism? Do the two go hand in hand or should they be separated?
TH: The revolution is always gonna need a soundtrack. I don’t think you could ever separate the two. I think they go hand in hand. The dopest protests I’ve seen have been in Portland where they have the drumline and the homie playing the trumpet and people chanting. That energy is infectious and it continues even after the gas and “nonlethal” rounds are being fired on these peaceful protestors. The music is like the pulse of the movement.
HK: Has your music always been political or driven by social justice and activism?
TH: Not even close, honestly. I like to make happier, more abstract music most of the time cuz that’s usually where my head’s at. But when Breonna Taylor (a respected EMT) was murdered by police officers in her own home while she was sleeping, I was disgusted and enraged.
They created a law in this woman’s name (Breonna’s Law) and yet they have yet to charge a single officer for her murder. That, to me, is one of the THOUSANDS of confident displays of racism being enforced by law enforcement today.
I couldn’t keep silent. I make music 24/7 and it reflects wherever I’m at in life, at that moment. And this is where I’m at now, caught in a war for justice and basic human dignity.
HK: Who are some of your inspiriations, musicially or otherwise?
TH: Pink Floyd, MF Doom, Aesop Rock, Del The Funky Homosapien, King Gizzard, Dead Kennedys, Dead Prez, Slum Village, Freddie Gibbs, Nina Simone, Crystal Method, The Pharcyde, George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks
HK: How is the protest music scene in your home area? Do you feel musicians are generally using their voices for good today or do you feel they can do better?
TH: Alaska has a lot of dope emcees shedding light on important issues. I think overall, Alaskan music artists have come a LONG way.
I think there’s still a lot more work to do in terms of originality with a good chunk of Alaskan emcees, but there’s a lot of standout acts like DJ Allegiance, Darius Dossman, Starbuks, Sean Van Camp, Shamazz James, Trinity Beats, Madd Angler, Keanepok, Johnny Kohler and Lee Jones who blow my mind. They’re the ones to pay attention to in my book. They know what time it is.
HK: How is the music scene in Oregon compared to your native Alaska? What made you move places?
TH: It’s weird comparing the two. Alaska’s music scene as of right now is pretty involved. Lots of cliques, lots of competition, but it stays friendly for the most part. Everybody just wants to have fun, get on stage and make the crowd move. Not NEARLY enough venues though.
Oregon has impressed me with its music scene. It’s one of the reasons my fiancee and I moved out here. I’m a bit of a hermit by nature and yet the scene has been very welcoming. You get a real sense of community nearly instantly.
HK: What is on the horizon for you?
TH: Three new projects in the works! So needless to say, I have my hands full!
HK: Thank you very much for participating. Is there anything else you’d like to shout from the rooftops?
TH: Arrest Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove for the murder of Breonna Taylor!
End qualified immunity for law enforcement, nationwide!
God is love!
✊ ✊ ✊ ✊
Halldór is the managing editor of Shouts - Music from the Rooftops!, an investigative journalist, audio engineer, and animal rights activist. Currently based in Cuernavaca, Mexico.