The Cornel West Theory (interview)

Out of the wake of Trumpapocalypse comes a group that specifically intends to fill the void left by commercial musical groups who don’t take their voices seriously. According to their Bandcamp page The Cornel West Theory released the album The T.A.B.L.E. TOO in January of 2017 as direct response to the state of things in their home environment. They recognize that someone needs to express awareness out into the atmosphere and they play their part. Shouts sent a few questions their way and two members of the collective, Tim and Rashad, told us a bit more about the group as well as their upcoming projects.

 

What do you hope to achieve with your music?

Tim:
In the words of John Coltrane…to become saints. We create to reach as many people in the world as God will allow us to reach. We pray to be able to support our families thru the art and assist others. We hope to offer a balance.

Rashad:
International critical dialogue about what changes need to be made in the world. We aim to inspire people to push for their higher spiritual calling, and to make Hip Hop an ageless, timeless, non-racially divided, powerful form of art.

 

You write on your Bandcamp page that the group formed out of a void needing to be filled (a void left by other artists). Can you elaborate on that? And do you feel alone making the music you make or is there a scene of like minded groups?

Tim & Rashad:

We feel that there’s an empty space within hip hop. A space that used to be filled by the likes of Public Enemy, KRS One, Poor Righteos Teachers, and a few more up to Black Star, but for almost a decade, there aren’t any more groups or solo artist who have a grimey, soulful, violent, socially conscious sound. We do feel like we’re in the minority in that sense, and it has been a 13 year up hill climb for us to push thru the industry’s barriers. We have plenty of other artist like us in pockets all over the US and the world, so we are not alone in that regard. We shall continue to push until the walls fall.

 

Do you have other projects or work relating to bettering the world besides the music?

Tim:
We’re a collective with several other things in the works such as graphic novels and other artistic ventures. We’re supporters of political prisoners within the US such as Mumia Abu Jamal and The MOVE 9 whom we’ve collaborated with musically on our previous album, Coming From The Bottom. We consider ourselves sonic activists.

 

What’s on the horizon for The Cornel West Theory?

Tim:

We’re always working on several things at once, but what I can tell you about the immediate future is we’re about to release our 6th album, WATERGUNZ soon, and will also be releasing at least two other projects before this year ends. In 2018 we’ll release our 7th album, N.W.O.K. We’re also seeking distribution and hope to begin touring.

 

Formidable Vegetable Sound System (interview)

From Western Australia comes the fantastic Formidable Vegetable Sound System. This collective uses ukuleles, horns and the idea of permaculture to funk some awareness into all of our lives. Halldór threw a few questions at Charlie Mgee, one member of the collective and we at Shouts thank Charlie kindly for participating in this project.

 

First off, for those not familiar with your project, who is Formidable Vegetable Sound System, and what is your mission?

Formidable Vegetable Sound System is an experiment in eco-swing-funk with mashups of ukulele, horns, violin and electro-beets solely aimed at pounding simple solutions for sustainability deep into your consciousness! Our mission is to make the world realise that ‘Permaculture’ has nothing to do with curling your hair.

 

In this world filled with apathy and senselessness do you feel alone making the music you make? Or is there a scene out there of like minded artists?

I think there are a lot of artists who are expressing ecological ideas through their music. Maybe we are just more blatantly obvious about it and don’t use as many metaphors. I often feel alone in this crazy world, but I think that’s just a natural byproduct of being a fringe-dweller at heart and not necessarily a reflection of reality!

 

How important is it for artists of all disciplines to use their voices to raise awareness? Do you think it makes an impact, especially coming from underground groups (as it so often does)?

Artists (especially famous ones) have some of the most powerful voices in the world, which ought to be used more for raising awareness about important issues and educating people. It’s a shame that there’s such a corporate industry surrounding music, as it is mostly geared toward making as much money as possible, instead of what I believe is the real purpose of music, which is creating change.

 

Do you have other projects or work relating to bettering the world besides the music?

After 5 years of galavanting around the world, I’m finally back in my yard growing a garden again, which makes me very happy. I’m also currently trying to build a tiny home out of recycled materials on an old fire truck that runs on vegetable oil, which ticks a lot of my boxes!

 

What’s on the horizon for Formidable Vegetable Sound System?

I’ve become more and more excited about writing songs for children and have even taken 2 years off to study education with the aim of doing more of it. Hopefully this gives me inspiration to write more educational music that can be used as a teaching tool for young people to learn about sustainable living in an uncertain future.

 

Grace Petrie

With a voice, a guitar and harmonica at hand Grace Petrie (UK) uses traditional tools for performing nontraditional music. This is uncommon music in the world today as we are bombarded by pointlessness. Petrie’s frustration over and passion for the world and her fellow human beings shines through in her lyrics.

“And yeah, it’s true God ain’t my thing
But if he was, I’d rather sing
For all of the refugees
Perishing in foreign seas
Those bodies washed up on the shores
Were fleeing our state-sponsored wars
And our leader sees nothing wrong
So I wrote him a brand new song”