In Puerto Rico people have a saying that goes something on the lines of: “Just ask, ’cause we have it.” Or so says Félix Castro, a buddy of Shouts and member of the rap-rock, protest fusion that is Yuca Brava. The saying refers in this case to the music scene in Puerto Rico which is vibrant, powerful and colorful, to say the least.
One of the first interviews I did for the Shouts project was with Félix about his political rapcore group. This was when hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico was in very recent stages. In that interview Félix voiced his concerns about the recovery and USA’s involvement. As he explains in the interview below that is still on his mind and part of his upcoming music.
The band is due to release a new EP and Félix himself is about to drop his debut solo album as well. So I rang him up and asked him how he’s been doing since our last interview and what we can expect from the two upcoming albums which are due soon.
Armaan Yadav is a rapper and poet from India who recently released the song Saffron Ablaze which covers the rising fascism in India and oppression of free speech.
“Over the last few years, India has been experiencing extremely violent acts, often motivated by religion and backed politically by certain groups of people in power. There has been a rise of fascism in the country, backed by the active censorship of voices of dissent– a vital force that keeps democracies in check. This track is an attempt to speak up against that. After all, the only way to maintain the right to free speech is to speak freely. Please note that just because I’m condemning the actions of a select few in this very short track does not mean that other political groups differ significantly. I will continue to actively combat what I feel is wrong, through words, not violence. True patriotism finds itself in the critique of the way of things, not in blind nationalism and mass hysteria. Thank you for supporting my music so far, I hope you continue to do so.”
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!
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.
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 email@example.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!