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interview for 4/22/03
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous

Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21790
interview for 4/22/03  Reply with quote  

interview conducted by Nikesh

1) Michael Franti once wrote that it’s hard to separate music and politics. Chuck D called hiphop the “black CNN”. How true do you believe these statements to be, especially in light of today’s “democratic war”?

1) Real people create real art. Real Art has the ability to fuel and empower the people. Apparently we have a bunch of cyborgs running the music industry. And they are influencing yet another generation of humans to be more like them. Mechanical. Programmed. Hiphop was the WORLD'S CNN for a good while. Chuck D was the head reporter. Chuck D is the reason I rejected robot teachers. Today's music climate is much different though. And where are the Public Enemy's when you need them? Limited to the underground for the most pat. The artists who actually have the fuel for the dwindling flame that is free society are not given the promotion, exposure, or publicity by the major media machines. It's too risky and self-defeating for corporate monsters to allow something like that to happen. Def Jam was the Motown of the late 80's and early 90's. Their artists were untouchable and undeniable. That was the pinnacle of hiphop. They gave an opportunity to groups like Public Enemy to tap into the mindset of black/brown/yellow/red/white America and deprogram the younger generations. I want to know why labels like Def Jam turned to utter shit. Image and franchise took precedence over message and art. That's the world we live in. Def Poetry Jam my ass (pause).

2) How do you feel the propaganda war/the media assault is harming artist attempts to speak out?

It doesn't help that most radio and TV stations are owned by major corporations whose decisions are based on what advertisers want the public to be aware of. I have to believe that this is the trickle-down effect of 5 CEO's owning a majority of what supplies us with information and/or product. But one thing that's good is it separates the fake from the real. Seeing Michael Moore show public disapproval of the US invasion of Iraq during the Emmy's was a beautiful moment in American history. Whether you agree with him or not, you have to tip your hat and say, "Yes, sir...that's the kind of balance we would like to see on our television more often." The notion that we have independently owned, free media is comical.

3) Releasing an antiwar song on the internet, suddenly everybody has it, is this spirit of spontaneous protest a good choice to make as an artist?

It was the responsible thing to do. I'm not sure where everyone's head is at, but I am not hearing what needs to be said. So I will say it. This is dissent. This is disapproval of false leadership. I use tools of the common man to speak to the common man.

4) What advice (non-musical-they can’t be saved there) would you give to artists such as the Dixie Chicks, who for the first time have spoken out and received a tremendous amount of unpopularity?

I don't have to give them advice at all! They have been so brave. Can you imagine the GAUL it took for three women in COUNTRY WESTERN MUSIC to show disapproval of a cowboy's war??? I commend them and wish the best for the career. People come to their senses at some point, and they have the potential to be regarded as heroines ten years from now. I would like to pee on every news reporter, talk show host, radio personality or hack-comedian who takes a pot shot at them for speaking their mind on such a touchy subject.

5) The avenues of media that refuse to play these antiwar songs, do you feel that if they did play for example March of Death by Zack de la Rocha and DJ Shadow, would you see it as OK for them to strike a balance and play a song such as The Angry American (I can’t remember the artists but the country andwestern star who wrote a song about putting a boot in your ass cos that’s the American Way?)

To be quite honest, I don't want to hear pro-war country music. But if the stations who played such songs were responsible enough to offer a balance by playing March of Death I would be all for it. March of Death is a BANGER. Damn, that's a great track. Thank you Zack. Thank you Shadow.
6) Do you think it was appropriate for Michael Moore to speak out at the Oscars?
What's appropriate? Keeping feathers groomed and orderly? Ruffle them shits. I am proud of him.

7) What is the answer for artists who can’t find an audience for these songs? Will the internet suffice?
Right now, the internet is a great tool for people in need of information that is not offered via network television. Of course it is also full of misinformation which the internet user needs to be wary of. But that's nothing new to us. I watched video footage of a few people jump on a statue yesterday and that was supposed to represent USA's victory over Saddam Hussein. Had the camera pulled back far enough you'd see that the attendance for that publicity stunt was scarce. Where was the video footage when hundreds of thousands of people stood in front of the White House to protest the impending war? I watched CNN when I returned home from DC and saw them misrepresent the whole event. They gave a ground view of some goofy looking hippies prance around with their drums. False representation is all the rage these days. Oh, so back to your question, the internet will HAVE to suffice. But it needs to extend well beyond the internet. We can't stop there.

8) What is your message to Bush’n’Blair? What is your message to the Iraqi people?

Bush and Blair could give a shit what the people have to say. Their decisions have nothing to do with the welfare of the people they are supposed to be representing. But if I could say anything to them I would probably want to strike a very general chord and say something like, "It ain't gonna work. We will resist and rise. You will be laughed at and mocked in history books, fools." And then I'll burst into red, white and blue smoke. I don't know what I would say to the Iraqi people. Perhaps it would be something to the effect of, " least Saddam is gone?" And then I'll throw a Band-Aid at the one armed boy.

9) What comparisons and differences do you think there are between the artistic climates both here and now and during the 60s in Vietnam?

I see artists taking the initiative to speak a voice of dissent and catching heat from mainstream media outlets. Our voice could not be heard in many places outside of music, so that's what makes art an extremely powerful political tool and maybe that's the whole point behind us "keeping it real." We speak for the people because we are the people. We aren't the dolls propped up in front of a television camera. We have blue collar backgrounds and happen to be directly affected by the selfish decisions made by the bigwigs. The 60's seemed to have more unification in the music scene. They had a stronger movement. What do we have? The internet. Technology, in a strange way, has left a lot of us apathetic. As long as we're able to obtain the truth through independent media sources we feel satisfied, but that's not right. Action is needed. Get off of your TV-trained ass, and DO something in this world. Take action. Scream "NO!" where people can hear you. Don't just preach to a choir. Show people what the fuck is up.

10) Finally, I have compiled an antiwar anthology and would like to send them over to you. If you could provide me with a PO or postal address I will be happy to send a copy over.

Sage Francis
PO Box 2509
Providence, RI 02906
Post Tue Apr 22, 2003 9:51 am
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