Tag Archives: social justice

Keyz (interview)

Keyz is only 20 years old and he just released his first album. ‘The Seed’ has, in his own words, now been planted. The lyrics indicate empathy and compassion one would expect to see in an older individual. This is a young individual, who realizes that his voice, no matter how small or unsigned, can have an impact. Especially if the rest of us listen and follow his plea to make an impact in a unified way.

From ‘You and Me’ (prod. Yondo)

“to anybody hearing this track
understand that it’s more than a lyric in a rap
i’m tryna uplift your spirits in fact
together we’ll make a bigger impact”

Halldór contacted Keyz and learned about the process of his debut album, his message and upcoming projects for this brilliant young artist.

 

For those not familiar with your work, who is Keyz?

I’m a 20-year old from Sudan that would like to become the voice for all ‘third culture kids’, as well as all marginalized and underrepresented social classes. Through music and media I want to unify like-minded people and build a global community dedicated to bring about systematic changes in society, economy, and politics.

 

According to your Bandcamp page you turned 20 years old this year. How long have you been making music?

I’ve been making music since I was 11 or 12 years old – but back then, my stuff was trash. Even my stage-name was corny – I called myself ‘Dizeaze’ because I thought I was ‘sick with the flow’ (God, I hope people don’t find that stuff lol). I still have a long way to go but it’s been great learning the basics of how to write and record my own songs… and how to come up with a better stage name..

 

‘The Seed’ is your first album. How was the process behind the album?

I loved making my first album. I learned a lot about the recording process and zoned in on it to make sure my sound quality was decent. The masterminds behind the beats blessed me with the opportunity to use their sounds and it was awesome reaching out to the lovely ladies who let me use their artwork for the album cover, as well as cover art for each song.

I was also happy with the roll out – I figured out how to get my music on Spotify/iTunes & most major streaming services – and I have great friends & family who helped with marketing & planning.

And the response was great! I’m humbled by & super grateful for the support I’m receiving for the album and flattered when I have opportunities like these – interviews, performances, etc.

 

How important is it for you to have a political or activist message in your songs and what is your inspiration for making conscious music?

Not to sound cliche, but, I believe my purpose in life is to be an activist for the benefit of my community, for the third culture. and for the world. And I know that music shaped my character, so, when I make music, I try my best to help other listeners better themselves. My inspiration comes from a lot of places, but when I watch my favorite artists perform live, with thousands of like-minded people chanting their lyrics – I want to be on that stage. With thousands of people united for social change.

 

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Do you feel there is a like-minded scene around you or do you feel lonely making your music?

I feel like there are artists, even mainstream artists like Kendrick, Cole, & Joey Bada$$, who make conscious music & have even paved the lane for conscious music to resurface for our generation – but there still isn’t a voice for the GLOBALLY underrepresented people of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and all indigenous people who have had their cultures and histories rewritten by imperials… so I’m going to have to fill that void.

 

What are some of your favorite political or conscious musicians/bands out there?

I have loads of favorites to be honest – everyone from Lauryn Hill and Tupac to Joey Bada$$ and Ab-Soul to Mick Jenkins and Joyner Lucas and of course Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole.

 

What’s on the horizon for you?

Well, since I released ‘The Seed’, I’ve been working on new music, some collaborations, and will start performing more and networking – hopefully within the next 6 months I’ll be able to throw my own concert. Pray for me!

 

Thank you so much for participating and for making the music you make! Anything you want to add to wrap this up?

Thank YOU very, very much for appreciating my music and taking the time out to feature me for an interview. I highly respect you using your platform for social change – much love!

Yuca Brava (interview)

Recovery has been slow and tough for Puerto Rico. One month since hurricane Irma and there is still no electricity for the majority of the island’s residents. But things have not really been ok in Puerto Rico for more than a hundred years or ever since a very dubious citizenship was ‘granted’ to the island’s residents. Some of these islanders are bringing their frustration and fight to the microphone and sharing important messages with the world. One of these bands is Yuca Brava and in the midst of devastation its vocalist, Félix Castro, was kind enough to answer a few questions. They use their voices and talents not only to fight recent storms but also a hundred years worth of political turbulence.

Félix also shared with us some local groups that are bringing food, supplies and medicine to their communities in Puerto Rico so if you want to donate or help in any way then please check out the list at the bottom of the page.

 

For those not familiar with Yuca Brava can you tell us a bit about the group?

Yuca Brava (spanish for “angry yucca”) is a political rapcore band from Puerto Rico. We started on November 2016 as a duo formed by drummer/producer Carlos Anglada and myself (Félix Castro) as vocalist. Later on, Edwin Rosa (guitars) and Marcos Serrano (bass) joined the line-up.

 

How important is it for you to send a specific message out into the universe and what are some of those messages?

For us the message is primordial, without neglecting the rigor of the composition. Anglada and I started prematurely as a duet with beats because we understood the relevance of the message in its political context. Puerto Rico has been a US colony for 119 years, suffering from the violence of capitalism, racism, classism; among others. Our message is clear, Puerto Rico has to be a free sovereign country; and from this political condition, another reality is possible and necessary.

 

How is the scene in Puerto Rico for political bands? Is there a lot of like minded bands around you?

Puerto Rico has a wide variety of independent music with political content. Some in the Latin American tradition of nueva trova as: Roy Brown, Mikie Rivera, Mijo de la Palma, Fernandito Ferrer; rap and hip-hop artists like: Welmo Romero, South Flow, MalaCara, Honor y Honra, TMS, SieteNueve, Intifada, Postrap, Negro Gonzalez; bands like: Fiel a la Vega, Tráfico Pesado, Puya, Gomba Jahbari, etc. In addition, there is a movement of arts and very strong poetic expression that has been developing.

 

What do you hope to achieve with your music?

Yuca Brava’s main goal is focus on the urgency of a trench through the arts for these times of collective crisis. Our hope is to make music that does not serve to stun or alienate, but to accentuate shared rage against oppression.

 

Can you share some of your favorite political bands?

Rage Against The Machine, System of a Down, Puya, Mercedes Sosa, Kendrick Lamar, Portavoz, A.N.I.M.A.L., Anita Tijoux, Lucecita Benitez, Luis El Terror Dias, Victor Jara, Silvio Rodríguez, etc.

 

What’s next for Yuca Brava?

We’re rehearsing to perform at some local shows, and working in the pre-production phase of our next EP titled “Cristales Rotos”. For more information on music and gigs you can visit www.facebook.com/somosyucabrava & yucabrava.bandcamp.com

 

Thank you very much for participating in our project and for the music you make.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our proposal and for the solidarity.

 

Local groups and iniciatives in Puerto Rico:

Proyecto Matria
Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo Mariana
Colectiva Feminista en Construcción
Fundación El Plato Caliente
Brigada del Mellao
El Hormiguero Centro Social Autogestionado
Olla Común
CAUCE
La Junta Comunitaria de RP
El Local en Santurce
#TeamCorazonPR
Campamento Contra la Junta
Brigada Solidaria del Oeste
Bori Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief
Local Guest
Urbe a Pie
Comedores Sociales
El Llamado
Maria Fund (by Taller Salud, the G8 of Caño Martín Peña, and other local, grassroots organizations)
Institute for Socio Ecological Research (ISER) Caribe
ViequesLove
Güakiá Colectivo Agroecológico
Casa Pueblo Adjuntas

Félix also shared a second list of reputable organizations compiled by Vanessa Díaz of Dartmouth College:
Reputable Puerto Rican Orgs & Volunteer Opportunities

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.