Tag Archives: Talib Kweli

Stand Your Ground. Music is the weapon.

pharoahe monch stand your ground

Once again, I’ve decided to break protocol and talk about something that will invariably make a few people uncomfortable.

Trayvon Martin.

On the eve of the one month anniversary of the verdict, I’m not going to go on a tirade about how wrong the verdict was.

Or was not – based on where you come down on the issue.

But I am going to say that I place the blame for the fact that we’re even having this collective qualm of conscience squarely at the feet of George Zimmerman.

His recorded 911 calls let us know unequivocally that he actively sought out the encounter that resulted in Trayvon Martin’s death.

Regardless of whether Florida’s laws gave him the right to shoot to kill, if he had stayed in his car, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

But since he did, we’re are.

And I’m sure some of your are cringing, right now.

What may be a few lingering moments of discomfort for you, is an inescapable part of the Black experience.

Get over it.

Don’t worry though, I’m not going to make you suffer for long.

Because I’m not here to talk about the child killer.

That’s depressing.

I want to talk about something more uplifting and positive: the various tribute songs that have sprung up in the wake of this incident.

By far, my favorite is “Stand Your Ground,” this rough by Pharoahe Monch.

“Stand Your Ground” is a protest song which flips Florida’s ‘self-defense’ concept on its ear.

Pharoahe isn’t the only artist to feel away about the Zimmerman verdict.

Rick Ross expresses his outrage in “I Wonder Why,” when he says, “Now I’m being followed by this creepy ass cracker.”

Creepy ass cracker indeed.

Skip to 2:19 to hear the reference, if you’re not a Rick Ross fan.

Young Jeezy adds his “It’s A Cold World” tribute track to the mix.

And Wyclef Jean’s “Justice (If You’re 17)” puts the now notorious neighborhood watch captain on full blast.

This little curated collection is by no means all that there is.

Numerous artists have released their own personal tributes for Trayvon, some of which are a lot less veiled with their feelings about Zimmerman and the verdict.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno performance by Talib Kweli, Nelly and Abbey Dobson, gives those who are having a hard time understanding why people of color are so angry (about the verdict) visual aid.

All I can say is that while Zimmerman got away with murder, he will forever be memorialized, in song, as the coward he is.

Music is the weapon.

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Free Angela hits theaters April 5!

I’ve been talking Free Angela for a little over a year now.

Like an annoying gnat, I’ve been buzzing in your ears about this great documentary by Shola Lynch.

Well it’s officially official.

Free Angela will be in theaters April 5th.

And now the fun begins!

I’ve been trying to convince Shola to do a soundtrack and mixtape for over a year.

And CodeBlack is on board.

I’m thinking Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Jill Scott, Pharoahe Monch, Sharon & The Dap Kings.

Here’s a teaser of what we’ve been brewing up in the lab.

Free Angela Soundtrack Rough from Stephen Chukumba on Vimeo.

Tell me what you think.

Are you feeling it?

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Celebrity schlebrity. Vita Chambers has a guardian angel.


I’ve never been used to the concept of celebrities.

Folks treat them with such…reverence…as if the fact that they can sing or dance or dribble a ball makes them somehow, better?

I find cats fawning over pure strangers…odd and distasteful.

I just don’t get why girls swoon over Usher, or Michael Jackson or Justin Bieber.

Falling out, really?

Perhaps it’s because I’m Nigerian.

Or maybe it was being born into a diplomatic family.

It could be pure vanity.

I can’t sweat you if I think, I too, am fabulous.

But most likely, it was my cousin, Stevano.

You see, growing up, I had this younger cousin who was a rapper from DC.

During the summers and every Howard homecoming, I would make my sojourn to DC to chill with him.

Hanging with my cousin usually involved tooling around the city in a 911, Beemer or Benz.

It meant VIP access to any and every party spot or event of note.

More importantly, it meant unbridled access to a butt load of celebrities.

I was routinely in the company of Nas, Mary J Blige, Biz Markie, A Tribe Called Quest, Jay Z, Herbie Azor, Wu Tang Clan, Davina, Eve, Brand Nubians, Cisco, Drake, Sean Kingston, Marlon Waynes, Michael ‘Blue’ Williams (of Violator), Talib Kweli – and that’s just off the top of my head.

Don’t mind the generational jumps – I’m talking past and present.

We’re not even going to get into the models.

Although most people outside of DC have never heard of my lil cousin, he is a don in the music industry.

Limos would routinely pull up outside of the house on Rittenhouse (the house he bought at 18).

And we would be whisked off to some private party being hosted by Marc Barnes or some other DC night life luminary.

His phone stayed ringing, and I would hear him giving heavyweights – heavyweights – advice.

I used to get so annoyed with him.

Usually because these calls came at the most inopportune moments – like when I wanted his introduction to some hot dancer, back-up singer or groupie thinking we were famous.

I had no problem with sloppy seconds back then.

But what drew my annoyance – beyond missed booty conquest – was the fact that he just gave away valuable information – for free!

The stuff he knew about the entertainment industry – getting labels to come off that dough, securing video budgets, working with established producers, touring – were things I felt he should be getting paid for.

And things that most cats his age (and older) just didn’t know.

For years, I urged him to flip the paradigm, set up shop and get paid for his services.

When Aftermath wanted him to write for Eve of Destruction (aka Eve), this new artist they were grooming from Philly, I prodded him to get a fee for his services.

When Fela’s daughter invited him to talk about bringing her late father’s music to the stage, I urged him to confirm that the deal was on the up-and-up.

When <name of artist/label/producer> came seeking his help, I implored him to get paperwork to secure his stake in the transaction.

Invariably, his heart controlled his head, and he rarely took my advice.

Time after time again, I watched as countless artists benefited from his immense creativity and lackadaisical business attitude.

As he moved from DC to LA, to the UK, to Miami and then to Vancouver, Canada, I would infrequently hear about these instances.

And as my life turned increasingly from the entertainment industry to technology, and being separated by time zones and distance, I heard about them less and less.

Recently, however, he reached out to me to talk about the latest artist to have found a way into his heart – Vita Chambers.

If you haven’t heard about her, it’s okay.

She’s only 19.

She was discovered by SRP (the same label that found Rihanna) and signed by Sylvia Rhone in 2009.

Vita soon found herself on tour with Justin Bieber, performing at Lilith Fair in 2010, the Bamboozle Road Show, PopCon, touring with Forever The Sickest Kids, and performing with Estelle at the 2010 Soul Train Awards.

But she’s spent the last two years on hold as Universal Motown’s reorganization worked itself out.

Fast forward to 2012, and SRP finds themselves without the momentum that accompanied her initial signing.

Enter cuzzo, stage left.

Working with Vita’s parents, her de facto management, he took ‘Fix You’, remixed it, and the girl you’ve never heard of is taking off with a chart climbing single.

Now since I’ve been here before, I know how this plays out.

Stevano goes balls to the walls for Vita and her team.

Vita gets back on the trajectory she was before the Universal debacle and achieves untold success.

And cats bid my cuz auf Wiedersehen.

This time, though, I’m helping cuzzo get the biz right.

I plan to be the guardian angel to Stevano that Vita is the poor child in the Fix You video.

They’re going to be in LA for the Grammy’s.

And then a quick stop in NY to sit with the folks at Universal Republic.

I plan on meeting this young artist in Stevano’s good graces.

And hopefully convince them to formalize their relationship so that they mutually benefit.

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