Category Archives: Exclusive

A Protest Music Interview: Mat Ward (Exclusive 3-Track Premiere)

According to some, electronic music used to be political but now it has ‘lost its edge‘. Mat Ward is fully aware of this and now does his utmost best to make his music sit just right, dangling the feet over the edge with the headphones blasting.

His latest album is self described as ‘a chill trap album about surveillance’ and it features titles such as ‘The Value of Metadata’, ‘Undersea Cable’ and ‘Holed Up In The Ecuadorian Embassy’.

The album subtly flows on, at one moment you almost forget yourself until you realise you have been swept away by the music and it has become an echoing, cool soundtrack in your brain. A bit like surveillance. You might know it is there, but it does more than you think while you loose your mind to other things.

Mat’s new album, due out in January, is a new concept and his current 9-5 profession: the media. For Mat is a journalist by day and a trap music maker by night. We have been listening to the unreleased album and it is stellar. It opens with much more of a bang in comparison to the more chill, previous album. Which fits well, for the media screams much louder than surveillance. Both concepts are large and complicated but Mat gives them structure and builds sonic landscapes that easily sweep you away.

We contacted Mat and asked him a few questions about his concept music. In addition we have a special 3-song preview off the upcoming album which Mat made exclusively for the Shouts project. Check out the new music below as well as the interview with Mat.

Photo from Mat Ward’s Bandcamp page

Has your music always been political?

“Yes, my music was political from the start, most probably because my two obsessions are music and politics.

I started making music at first for my favourite rapper, Provocalz, who I met here in Sydney when I interviewed him for my book Real Talk: Aboriginal Rappers Talk About Their Music and Country. That interview ended with us both being questioned by police.

I felt Provocalz was such a great poet that he should reach a far wider audience. But his music was not on any of the big music platforms because he always rapped over unlicensed music, as many underground rappers do. So I started making original music for him just in the hope that he could upload it onto the big platforms – Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and the rest – to reach the audience I felt he deserved. I made about 40 songs in his style – dark, emotional, piano-driven hip-hop – but after he’d laid down vocals on four of them, he got pissed off with the whole rap scene and gave up rapping. That was in 2016, but the four-track EP came out only this year. It’s my favourite thing I’ve done, music-wise.”

Why did you choose surveillance as the concept for ‘Five Eyes’? Why is it an issue you care about?

“Well, the funny thing about that album is it was the best of all the leftover songs that I’d done for Provocalz. I didn’t want anyone else to rap on them as I’d made them for him, so it’s just an instrumental album, but it needed a theme. I always prefer music with a message, even if it’s only in the song titles. Provocalz had actually used one of the songs for “Behind Enemy Lines” on the EP, in which he raps about Aboriginal kids being abused in jail. I really liked the intricate bassline I’d come up with on that one, so I thought it stood up as an interesting instrumental on its own, without any rapping.

On the Five Eyes album, that song became “Holed Up In The Ecuadorian Embassy“, to highlight another Australian injustice, that of Australian citizen Julian Assange being abandoned by his government and incarcerated. That’s the link between the EP and the album. I’d read a lot of books both by Assange and about Assange, a lot of which touch on surveillance, so a lot of the rest of the song titles came from the information in those books.”

Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming album and the new concept?

“Yep, I’m actually a journalist – that’s my day job. I started a music fanzine in my teens, did my school work experience on my local paper, earned a postgraduate in journalism, became a reporter and features writer on national newspapers, then became a subeditor and I’m now an online editor.

I think everyone should think critically about the job they do – especially journalists, who are supposed to be critical thinkers. Anyone who looks at journalism critically can see there’s a lot to be criticised. If you’re interested in seeking out the truth, as all journalists should be, you’ll consume the news from as many different sources as possible and you’ll quickly see there’s a huge difference in the way the news is reported by the corporate media and non-corporate media. (If any readers are not familiar with those terms, by corporate media I mean mass media or mainstream media run by corporations, and by non-corporate media I mean not-for-profit media, usually run by political activists.) All news is biased. If you’re only reading the corporate media – or only reading the non-corporate media – you’re missing half the story.

It’s for this reason that, 10 years ago, I started doing voluntary work for the non-corporate media. This kind of pro bono work is common in other professions, but unknown in journalism and even seen as heresy. For the past few years I’ve been writing a monthly political music column for the non-corporate media that always gets thousands of views and has been shared by the likes of Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello, Ministry’s Al Jourgensen and drag star Ru Paul. I think that’s how you found me. There’s a huge hunger out there for music with a message, as you’ve no doubt seen with this great blog of yours.

So, in an age when the president of the United States dismisses any news report he dislikes as “fake news”, this new album of mine, Filter Bubble, takes a look at the criticisms that can legitimately be levelled at the corporate media. Although nowhere near as sensational as Donald Trump’s tweets, these quiet truths are often just as disturbing.

Below, you can stream and download a three-track sampler of the album for free, which I put together for this blog. You can click through to Soundcloud for more details on what each song means. Stylistically, this album’s a cross between future bass and jungle – call it “future jungle” or “future drum n bass” – which I don’t think has been done before.

If you follow my artist page on Spotify, you’ll be notified when the full album’s released on January 24, 2020. Thank you.”

Shouts Exclusive Listen

Check out ‘Five Eyes‘ out on Bandcamp as well as Mat’s social media.

Exclusive Premiere: Darkest Before The Dawn by Josh Gray

A few months back Shouts premiered a rough (but beautiful) demo of a new single from Josh Gray’s upcoming album. The song, Darkest Before The Dawn, is a captivating protest anthem that is ensured to survive generations to come.

Now it is time to premiere the final version of the song, exclusively on Shouts.

Josh has a way with words and his lyrics flow with such ease that the poetry packs a great deal of information into each sentence. The song touches upon many pending issues that Josh has witnessed failing for a long time in his home country of United States of America.

“Can we care about our neighbors
Instead of asking for their papers
And think about what we do to this world?

‘Cause human life’s more precious
Than a blood diamond necklace
Or any flag that’s ever been unfurled”

Josh goes on pointing out that hippocrisy of calling the USA the land of the free for it is quite clear that millions of people living in that country right now are everything but free. Slavery still exists and flourishes today through the incredibly corrupt private prison system. Which, as Josh points out, is very much directed at people of color.

Every orientation and gender deserves equality
You ain’t savin’ souls trying to control
The lives of those you’ve never seen

Let’s stop arrestin’
For minor possession
If this is the land of the free
Ban private prisons
That enslave millions
Because they don’t look like me

We hit Josh up on Skype for a short interview and asked him about the song, the album and the upcoming tour. Check out both the video interview below and the Shouts premiere of ‘Darkest Before The Dawn’ below and follow Josh’s music and touring news by visiting his homepage.


Shouts Exclusive Listen



Wack Rappers Beware: Interview With DC Rapper Tim Hicks & Exclusive Song Premiere

According to Tim Hicks, leader and activist from the hiphop collective that is The Cornel West Theory, real rap is coming our way soon. The group seems to have its batteries in order too, for this hiphop is as politically charged as it gets.

Tim is a busy man these days, producing a new album for both the CWT as well as putting out a solo project. 45 is also busy these days and seeing how the capital is Tim’s playground he has felt the effect of this president deeply and so he has a word or two in his lyrics aimed at the man.

The DC rap game veteran got some words for all the poser rappers out there as well according to a recent FB post: “new and legendary MC’s, do lots of pushups, we’ll be waiting”. So naturally I asked Tim to drop a few names of real rappers who are doing it right today.

Check out his shout outs below along with his plea for a more unified world and his banging track off of his upcoming album exclusively here on Shouts!


Shouts Exclusive Listen

“Jim Vance” by Tim Hicks from his upcoming solo project “Bullets”

How have you been? (since our last interview)

I’m hanging in there family. Fighting the good fight. Music, life… always Fatherhood, and trying to be a saint living in a sinner’s body.

You have both a solo album as well as a group album coming out soon. What are the main differences between the two? Is your solo stuff as political as the CWT?

Great question and I pray my answer hits the mark. So, my solo project, Bullets, is something that I wasn’t really planning to do. It was just time. I have ideas that I’d like to express outside of the group context. Those ideas sometimes just take the form of beats that never see the light of the internet. This time, they took the form of me rapping over those tracks.

The Cornel West Theory is always at the core. The Dirty Church is the entity that produces all the music for CWT. I lead both. I brought the elements together for my solo piece. My solo album is my way of establishing myself as a bonafide – true to the tradition – cut from the cloth – not to be f*cked with – EMCEE.

It’s also an album dedicated to the city I was born and raised in. That city is Washington DC. As far as politics, I’m always writing with the intention to speak truth. There’s a false, yet very real reality in the world, and within Hip Hop these days. I prefer to go with the truth, and that truth is sometimes political. Sometimes it has nothing to do with politics.

I’m in a band called The Cornel West Theory. What can I say. I have an obligation to Doc West and his spirit. I have an obligation to Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. To Curtis and to Gil Scott. No weak-heart rap. This year we’ll see at least 2 new Cornel West Theory albums, NWOK (new world order kids) and DSIGHED (pronounced decide).

We have an exclusive listen to one of the tracks off your upcoming solo album. Can you tell us a bit about this song?

This tune is called Jim Vance. It’s an introduction to my solo voice. A way of me waving hi at all my heroes in hip hop, and announcing my arrival to all the wack ass rappers spitting that bullshit on the mic.

This track is a way of giving people a taste of what a MC from Washington DC sounds like. Not a DMV rapper who claims DC but ain’t really from the city. For folks who don’t know, DMV stands for DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Salute to the whole DMV, but there is no DMV without DC. I’m from DC.

You have campaigned fiercely, on and off the music stage, for the MOVE group as well as for one of its supporters, Mumia Abu Jamal. Mumia was recently granted the right to appeal after having served already a few decades in prison. What is your relationship with Mumia and why is his case, as well as the MOVE history, important to you?

Mumia is me. Mumia is my poppa from another mother. Mumia is a righteous brother who deserves to be with his wife and family because he’s innocent. I visited Mumia back in 2013, and became aligned with MOVE members Pam Africa and Ramona Africa. Ever since then, I’ve been blessed enough to fellowship with these awesome elders, and even have them record for our album, Coming From The Bottom. They became family to me. I met Mumia’s wife and performed at a memorial service for their daughter Goldii who passed away a few years ago. Those are my peoples. 

Mumia’s case is important because his freedom means that the world can now experience and be taught by one of the most brilliant, loving, and courageous men to ever walk the planet…but up close and personal as it should be. Free. Mumia is a bright shining light.

MOVE still has members who need to be freed as well.  Chuck Africa, Eddie Africa, Delbert Africa, Janet Africa and Janine Africa need to be freed immediately!

We did have an amazing breakthru… Michael Africa Sr. and Debbie Africa were both released after 40 years in prison! Ona Move! Long Live John Africa! FREE EM ALL!

You recently dropped a single called S.H.U.T.. Can you tell us a bit about it? Has the shutdown affected you or anyone you know personally?

Oh yeah, let’s rap. See The Cornel West Theory talks about the sh*t that most rappers avoid because it doesn’t sell. We’re also from DC, so we’re right in the face of the American government, as opposed to other folks who throw stones from the guest house.

The song was directly aimed at number 45, and his administration. A totally illegal government. I say this based on their actions. Yes, it touched my family and friends directly. Some of my people lost money, time, and gained stress in the process. I’m sure most Americans felt the same way.

This is a rough moment dealing with this dude. Somebody gotta talk about it. Music is soft now, cause nobody’s talking about it. The problems. We will.

You have been known to use social media to let poser rappers know you’re coming. What rappers are actually doing something right today? Who are using their voices and bringing the good stuff these days?

I dig Mankind. Two dope brothers from Harlem. We got some stuff in the works so hopefully y’all will get that soon, but Mankind is fresh! My man yU from the DMV area. Folks know him from being a part of Diamond District with Oddisee & Uptown XO. Folks need to know about yU.

My man Born I Music, Ardamus, Prowess The Testament, Asheru and my man ADST. Kenilworth Katrina and Uptown Shane. I’m into new voices. I like A$AP Rocky and Ferg, Joey Badass, and some of J Cole’s stuff.

Salute to Smif-N-Wessun, who just dropped a really dope album with 9th Wonder. Dope and Dope! I wanna hear the legends sounding fresh. Smif N Wessun did just that. I also wanna hear force back in hip hop. 

Will you be touring the new music in 2019?

Hopefully. We’re not signed and without a budget these days so getting funding is an issue. I’m sure there are some folks who are real about their business and have the means to bring us out. JAH willing, our paths will connect.

We’re always working on something so we’re ready to roll when the calls do come in for shows. However, plenty of folks like to look at us as the act that will play for pennies. As if we’re new to this.  We’re grown ass men with families. Music is a job, and musicians need work.

I know people are tired of these boring ass performances from the same ole folks or from new folks who aren’t worth seeing. We been out here. It’s no games live. We joke all the time about folks being afraid of us. We believe some artists are worried that if we open for them, we might take their shine. We’ll be working on getting shows tho.

For those serious about business, let em know to reach out to us at thecornelwesttheory@gmail.com or on social media @cwestspokesman and @cwesttheory

What matters to you in 2019? What fights are worth fighting?

My babies, and my donna. My family. The human family. I’m tired of seeing folks divided over race and racism. It’s worth fighting to 
destroy the concept of race. If folks stop identifying as colors disguised as levels in a class system, we could accomplish a lot.

I was told that a racist person’s worst fear is to see black and white united. To unite, we gotta let these labels die. In our minds, in our speech, and then hopefully in our daily lives. Yes, there are plenty of pieces to the system that must be addressed in order to get that change to be visible.

One thing I suggest is that folks remember that we all bleed and need love. It’s worth fighting for women and LGBTQ rights. It’s worth fighting for all immigrants trying to find safety and a better life. It’s worth it to stop spending money on death, and fight for the end of homelessness.

No one is a f*cking color. Period. God made us all. No one is above anyone. Let’s all get on the same level. One Love.

Bob Marley said it best… folks said he should side with Black people, others said he was for White people. Bob said he was on God’s side.
Salute to all the folks who give us energy and support.

Salute to Shouts! Iceland what up! Europe what up! Africa what up! Asia what up! South America what up! 
Whole world what up!

Check out The Cornel West Theory on Bandcamp ı Facebook ı Soundcloud ı YouTube