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July 04, 2005


INVENTOS::Hip Hop Cubano

Since I've already been, at one time or another, a target of the fbi, cia, cointelpro, lapd, nypd, hip hop cops, and other dubious "governmental" agencies; I'm not shook about getting it said. You can barbeque and get drunk all day if you want, but while you're doing that there are soldiers killing innocent people in Iraq, RIGHT NOW. Plus they're torturing "prisoners of war" in Guantanamo. Not to mention that every time you drive by a park full of Mexicans in Los Angeles, you're looking at indigineous people who are celebrating "independence" on the very land that was stolen from them where they now come to make minimum wage - or to be the mayor.

Today, I celebrate Independents. The ones who are making it on their own. The ones who are making a difference. The ones who are bombing, bucking, and dismantling the system. As Ludacris would say, the 4th of July is just another "hoe-liday" so while you're eating your "whore-dourves" and downing that 7th glass of insert-name-of-alcoholic-beverage-here; YOU BETTER THINK. Come up with an idea of your own that'll get you on next year's list of Top 5 Indepdendents. You'll thank me for it.

HIEROGLYPHICS IMPERIUM - I remember hearing Casual and Tajai and 'em battling Saafir and Hobo Junction and 'em on The World Famous Wake Up Show. I was sitting with my best friend Stacy and Bilal Allah (who would go on to A&R Mary J. Blige's Share My World for MCA, and eventually form his own company, Enlight Entertainment) in our apartment in Oakland, CA listening to every word. Between being pummelled, if not beaten, on the air; nearly every member of Hiero would go from having a major label deal to having a pocket linted. Turns out, they were down, but not out. Hiero reformed like Voltron and, modelling themselves after rock bands and indie punk labels, they created their own company, their own entity, their own label. They focused on merch and touring, while steadily pumping out a quality selection of CDs, vinyl, DVDs, and songs. Instead of spending their money, they reinvested in themselves, and recently these brothas bought a large warehouse building in Oakland to house their empire. They have major distribution from Red Urban Music/Sony, and they make more $ per record sold than any multi-platinum artist on a major. Furthermore, they develop talent and sign other acts to the label. That's why they're #1 on my list of great indepedendents.

EVOLVE UNIVERSAL - This Los Angeles-based clothing company is the brainchild of one woman. We'll call her Evolve. Some call her Jenny. She's the hardest-working woman in the clothing business - what started with a couple of t-shirt designs has blossomed into the finest independent clothing company money can't buy. An artist with roots in Graffiti and fine arts, Evolve designs every image, graphic, t-shirt and piece herself, by herself. And while she recently did a fashion show with high-fashionista shop Fred Segal, her line remains grounded in reality. With messages of Peace, positivity, Knowledge, upliftment, and Itations, Evolve Universal is more than a piece of fabric; Evolve Universal is a way of life. I salute this independent woman who has stayed strong and kept her business going all of these years; while never sacrificing quality for quantity, or the real for the fake. A true independent.

INVENTOS: HIP HOP CUBANO - This independent film, created by Clenched Fist Productions and Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi, is a testament to independence. Who else but a Puerto Rican-Jew Hip Hop head from the Bay Area would travel to Ghana and Cuba, come back, and decide to make a film about Cuban Hip Hop? I'll let the words of the film speak for themselves...to quote one of the artists "We care about the world we are living in. We talk about how the rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer." To quote another, "a lot of people say we're crazy, that this isn't Cuban culture. It isn't Cuban culture, but it's African culture, understand? And we are all children, descendants, of Africa." Say word. Eli edited, executive-produced, produced and directed this amazing film. Please support him at Clenched Fist Productions. Viva Inventos, y Hip Hop Cubano.

R.E.A.C.H.IP HOP - Founded by DJ Kuttin Kandi, and with support from Afro-Puerto Rican Hip Hop activist Rosa Clemente, the Godfather of Hip Hop Afrika Bambaataa, and support from dozens of powerful, revolutionary individuals within Hip Hop, R.E.A.C.H. is where Hip Hop lives. Through rallies and a campaign of letter-writing, emails and phone calls to Clear Channel, the group single-handedly put Hot97 in hot water when the major-market-share NYC station broadcast racist and defamatory songs satirizing the Tsunami disaster. And according to their website, it wasn't that difficult to accomplish. "R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop (formerly known as the NYC Hip-Hop Coalition) is a diverse coalition of artists, activists, hip-hop historians and writers, educators, students, and parents within, and in alliance with, the greater hip-hop community. Our initial call to action was in late January 2005, when commercially owned Hot 97 aired its now infamous “Tsunami Song.” As other communities who were targeted by this incident began to speak out and organize against Hot 97, it became apparent that a crucial voice was missing in this public protest: the voice of the hip-hop community. Thus, with the help of a few hip-hop heads, artists, and community organizers, the Hip-Hop Coalition was born." I thank the members of the coalition for showing the world we have power over everything when we choose to exercise our independence.

MIRANDA JANE/PYRAMIDS 2 PROJECTS - I have to celebrate myself today, because I've survived the temptations of the music industry. I built myself up from a crack-selling college dropout to become an editor of three major magazines. I did it without a degree, and for the most part without the support of my family. And when I reached the "top" in my field, becoming associate editor of The Source magazine, I recognized it for the sham that it was and made a promise to myself and to Hip Hop that I would never again be governed or directed by the politics of devils. I may not have a million dollars in the bank, or a platinum or black credit card; but let's face it, when the shit goes down everything ya'll "rich" folks have in the bank will be confiscated and you'll wish you'd had the forethought to put up a little cash, or learn how to survive with nothing. I've seen, with my own eyes, my friends turn to enemies. I've witnessed individuals and entities "turn" from good to evil. I've battled the devil, style for style, and my B-Girlisms reigned supreme. I'm sure he'll be back for round two, and again, he'll walk away with his head down in defeat; while still I rise, walking with my head held high, the Angels of my three dead sons on my shoulders. Only on a day where true Independence is celebrated can you truly appreciate my mission; the mission to inform, educate, uplift, and elevate. Even if I'm not clocking major-label dollars, to the true and righteous, my poverty and my wisdom are making a whole lot of sense.


At 8:46 AM, Anonymous rae said...

i love to wake up at the crack of dawn (as you know tooo well) and peep your blog. it's beautiful to see you blogging. there's a couple indies that i want to celebrate today too -

freestyle - now on dvd

thecoroporation - http://www.thecorporation.com/
mj, you have to see this film. it's all about the scary side of corporate "persons" and how our food is genetically produced, how the gvt is issuing patents on living things, and all the doom and gloom but still in a take action kind of way. id love to read your response to this film.

indies im trying to see:
remember henry alex rubin (even tho he snatched the camera out of my hands (literally) while i was filming supernatural on the streets of bk, i still got love and want to see his latest flick.

tell them who you are - http://www.tellthemwhoyouare.com/
review - http://suicidegirls.com/words/Mark+Wexler+-+Tell+Them+Who+You+Are/
a doc by son of one of my favorite cinematographers, haskell wexler (american graffiti, one flew over the cuckoo's nest..). father and son fight about how to make movies... u know i gotta love it.

plus im on a super diy kick with vlogs (blogs with video). check out these guys:

i recently saw a cooking vlog. you too could do a cooking show, mj, just on your blog. i also have seen some cool "home remedy" type blogs. a mother candled her son's ears. tiana watched it and is now begging me to take her to get that done.

more soon. papers (still) to write. today is the day.

At 11:56 AM, Anonymous mohamed said...

Well this definetly beats out all these pety top 5 lists on these other blog sites. This top 5 list is in my top 5 list of top 5 lists.

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At 9:08 PM, Blogger lilsoulja said...

I'd like to add a group to the list: William Hooper Councill Alumni Association, out of Huntsville, Alabama. www.whcaa.org Desegregation, while a blessing, led to the de-emphasis of all-black schools. Now, decades later, these buildings are either non-existent or falling into disrepair where nobody cares to preserve their presence. This one group of students are embarking on a mission to give back to their community what their community obviously doesn't realize is an asset for pride and power. Visit the site for more information or I could e-mail you what I know (me@hotmai...). I want to look into advertising this without spams.


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