Once known around the world for it's steel business and lucrative mining operations, Pittsburgh PA aka The Steel Town has changed a lot. These days it's better known for it's long history of amazing sports teams, hall of fame athletes and most recently the G-20 Summit. Pittsburgh is not a name that comes to mind for any music, or major artist of any genre, including Hip-Hop. But that is changing too. This year the worlds leaders met at the G20 Summit in downtown Pittsburgh bringing with them a lot of attention and news coverage. In attendance amid the madness and anarchy, with lots to say, armed with a video camera and a rhyme book was local emcee/activist Jasiri X.
While in town, I had a chance to catch up with Jasiri on the 16th street bridge.
JD: Tell me about your blog, the Real Talk Xpress, and how that came to be.
The Real Talk Xpress came about from me writing about things that I was passionate about. It started with me writing blogs, and sending them out via email. At the time the Presidential campaign was going on, so I took John Mcains, Straight Talk Express, and flipped it to The Real Talk Xpress - with an X. Then it went to another level, when I did a blog about Hancock, who I called, "The First Nigga Super Hero". That blog went viral all over the internet, and it blew up crazy. It made me see that, maybe I had the ability to write in a certain way that people would react to. So when it came time to do the blog, we called it Real Talk Xpress, and it's where I write about different things, politics, rap, and news, also where you can watch my series on You Tube, This Week with Jasiri X.
JD: On This week With Jasiri X you get right into the subject with no filler of filter. How much does the 24 hour news cycle and the internet play apart?
Where do you get your news from and how do you filter it?
The 24 news cycle and the internet cycle definitely play apart in how we digest, and how we view media daily. Because it's constant. The news plays apart to me, when I see all these minor stories, or the Tiger Woods scandal, that could be a massive story. Because you have all these outlets broadcasting or publishing new, then there becomes an necessity to fill up all these hours with programming. Also different channels put a spin on the story. Fox is going to spin it one way MSNBC is going to spin it another way. So I thought that This Week with Jasiri X would be for people, who don't have the opportunity to, or just don't like the news, or not up on what going on in the world. And they have the opportunity to watch a three minute video and get caught up on some of the relevant news in the cycle. Of course I put my own personal spin on it.
I get my news from everywhere. I wake up in the morning and hit the internet, or a local Pittsburgh newspaper. Whether its Huffpost, Drudge Report, CNN, or Yahoo news, I try to get it from as many places as possible because I Know that there is always going to be a spin on it. I love to listen to Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity, because they way that they are able to spin things and make it how they want you to see it. I find it humorous, and at the same time genius. If you listen to them all in a row for long enough, they all jump on the same topic, at the end of the three hours, you begin seeing President Obama and his crazy ways. There is definitely a science to what they do.
JD: What do you do to separate news writing from song writing?
When it come to news writing vs. song writing, the news it what I use as a theme.
This season of This Week with Jasiri X is more focused on song writing. Whereas the past two season I would just write a rhyme based on current events. But with this season we wanted to create full songs, songs with hooks. Good songs, that dealt with some of the major themes of what was happening in the news that week. What I began to do was use the news as a theme, but then really focus on making a good song. Because at the end of the day if it's not a good song, its not going to have the impact. The cool thing is that what we are seeing with this season is, songs don't just have a week self life. You can go back after a week and listen to 'Dear Deborah', 'Silent Night' or 'Why Rapper's Don't Watch the News' and it has a longer life than just that week.
JD: How has the local response been, and what is the scene in Pittsburgh like?
The local Pittsburgh response has been kind of interesting. Because of the kind of artist that I am, a little different that an artist looking for main stream success, when people see me on the Allhiphop or other sites they don't know how to react. They say, 'wow, that's cool', but at the same time, it's not like I'm making these song like, every hood and everybody in Pittsburgh stand up. I'm doing something different and people don't know how to take it. But I get my props. The scene in Pittsburgh, we have so many talent artist and producers, the list is long. But what we are missing is good managers, agents or a radio station at plays local Hip Hop. So what myself and a couple of other artist are doing is trying to create a unified group where we can pool our resources and talent to begin to develop the scene, and make it what it could be - a viable scene. Like the artists did in Minneapolis/Minnesota (Rhymesayers).
JD: What's next for you and what can we look out for? Will there be a season 4 for This Week? if so will there be any-changes?
Whats next for me is my album, "America History X'. It comes out December 15th. I hope everyone can grab that. It's kinda my first album. And what we are saying is, if you want to see "real Hip Hop", if you want to see a change in Hip Hop, or rap with a message, then we have to support artist who do that type of thing, like myself. When we take the risk and put out material like that, it shows support from every one who gets a copy and listens to it.
After the album comes out, I'm going to hit the road. I'm heading to Rhode Island Detroit, San Fransisco, then San Antonio. If you like the videos, I hope people can come out to see the live show. I'm excited about being able to connect with fans live.
There will be a season 4. And what I want to do is incorporate the artist that I am working with, and do more on the scene, location type of thing. Actually go to the where the news is happening. I'm also working on a mix tape called 'The City of Steel'. To give people a better idea of what Pittsburgh is like. When people hear of Pittsburgh they think of the Steeler's. But they don't have an idea of the poverty that exist in Pittsburgh and the inequalities that's going on here. So we are going to bring that to the table with the 'City of Steel'.
Be on the look out for American History X.. anyone out there who's feeling what I'm saying reach out to me and lets do big things in 2010.
Sunday, 29 November 2009
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