Our Intv w/ Legendary Poet Jessica Care Moore-Build Black Institutions

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 3.47.33 PMLast week the Bay Area was blessed when legendary poet, playwright, actress, educator, businesswoman and mother Jessica Care Moore made the trek from Detroit to historic Merit College (birthplace of the Black Panthers) to give a talk. Inside the Huey P Newton/ Bobby Seal Lounge, Moore talked for about an hour to a packed room about a number of topics ranging from her friendship with the late Amiri Baraka and why she felt her generation were connected with the Black Arts Movement which is often erased and marginalized in history. She talked about some of the projects folks are working on the preserve the memory of Baraka and bring a larger spotlight on to BAM.

We spoke about her native Detroit and the legacy of techno music and its pioneers Juan Atkins and her good friend Mad Mike Banks who opened a techno museum. We talked about how many forget techno is a black music genre and why Detroit and its gritty conditions gave birth to it in the early 80s. Jessica noted that she had recorded her album inside the techno museum and was working on a project with Mad Mike that will soon be released.

We talked with Moore about her close friendship with John Doe aka J-Dilla who actually made beats for her spoken word that have yet to be released. Yes, there are unheard Dilla beats sitting around..

We spoke about her close friendship with Detroit’s unofficial mayor the late Proof of the group D-12. We talked about the early days of his now iconic Hip Hop Shop and what it meant to the city. We talked about Eminem and his rise to fame and what its meant for Detroit. We talked about the strong women artists who come from that city.

 Jessica Care mooreWe talked about Moore’s current project Black Women Rock which went down last weekend and why she formed it and its overall goal of showcasing and empowering talented women not just from Detroit but from around the country.

During our interview we talked about the city in general and its current financial hardships and how Detroit is changing for the better if you are rich. She noted the city is deliberately changing to exclude and oppress the poor.  She talked at length about what and how people are fighting back..

Moore talked at length about the importance of institution building and why its essential for Black folks and artists to make moves in direction. She talked about Black Women Rock is an institution and we spoke about her publishing company Moore Books which has been home to a number of important spoken word artists including Saul Williams. She talked about how she learned from Third World Press publisher Haki Madhubuti who was a key member of the Black Arts Movement

We talked about the work she did with Nas and her current project she has done that features stellar figures like Roy Ayers..


HKR: A Tribute to the Black Arts Movement-The Battle Over Ethnic Studies

Amiri Baraka and Marvin XHard Knock Radio 02-25-2014: We had insightful discussions on HKR about the Black Arts Movement and the fight to keep Ethnic Studies alive and well in California..We also talk about the importance of Bone Marrow and its impact on communities of colors.

We start off by speaking with  Marvin X who was co-founder of Black Arts Movement on the West Coast. He breaks down the details  about the upcoming Black Arts Conference at UC Merced and the impact the Black Arts Movement had American culture and the academia.

Marvin X  noted that the conference initially was designed to talk about ways to bring the history of  BAM to the masses for clearer understanding. The late Amiri Baraka was scheduled to be a major part of the conference. Sadly with his passing last month, the conference this weekend will be more of tribute. During our interview, Marvin talked about his long friendship with Baraka which spans 47 years.

He also talked about how the conference will pay particular attention to the important role women played in the Black Arts Movement as well as ways in which the Hip Hop generation can better take up BAM’s mission 

you can get more info on the conference by clicking the link below:

Black Arts Movement Conference Program Highlights, UC Merced, Feb 28 thru March 2, 2014

Ethnic studies In our second segment, we speak with Professor Melina Abdullah, who is in the Pan-African department of CSULA.. We talked about the current fight to keep Ethnic Studies as a requirement at CSULA and ways to keep it alive and well at all colleges in California.

Abdullah noted that there is a trend all over the country to re-write history books and downplay the important contributions of People of Color. Many feel its a harsh reaction to the Blackening and Browning of America by those who are determined to hold on to power at all costs.

We also talked about the fact that there are attempts to marginalize ethnic studies and make it seem the classes taught within it aren’t credible. Many of the folks pushing that narrative are vying for power and feel threatened by peers in the academy challenging and dismantling long-held erroneous theories and notions ..

We conclude our show by speaking with Carol Gillespie of the Asian American Donar Program about the importance of folks donating to the program, the impact Bone Marrow donation has on Communities of color and mixed race kids. We talk about their upcoming fundraising comedy show

Guests: Marvin X, Professor Melina Abdullah and Carol Gillespie

HKR-02-25-14 Black Arts Movement-Save Ethnic Studies-Bone Marrow


Our Conversation w/ Sonia Sanchez as she Remembers her Friend Amiri Baraka

sonia SanchezIn the wake of Amiri Baraka passing, we’ve been speaking with a number of people about his life and legacy.. One of the people closest to him was legendary poet, educator and author Sonia Sanchez. She’s the author of over 20 books including Sonia Sanchez is the  Homecoming, We a BaddDDD People, Love Poems, I’ve Been a Woman, A Sound Investment and Other Stories, Homegirls and Handgrenades and most recently  Morning Haiku.

She is also the Poet laureate of Philadelphia and was in the process of working on a book with Amiri about the Black Arts Movement which was due out in May of 2014..

That book will be completed and of course dedicated to Amiri… During our interview Sonia opened up and talked about her friendship with Amiri, recounting the funny way in which the two met.. She explained that as a college student she attended a show where Baraka was performing.. At that time his name was Leroy Jones.  As she walked by, Baraka called her out and demanded she submit a poem  to an anthology he was doing. She said she thought he was kidding and paid him no mind..

She returned to the theater for another show a few days later and this time Baraka called her out again and ribbed her for not wanting to be in his book.. This time she took his words seriously, left the venue and returned home.. She typed up some poems and got them to him and that was the start of their life long friendship…

Sonia gave us lots of gems to chew on about Amiri Baraka. She talked about the beginnings of the Black Arts Movement and how they functioned. She underscored how they continuously supported one another and collaborated. She explained how Baraka was accessible to the community no matter how busy or traveled he was..He had great love for the people and was a genius, she noted.

She said his intellect and sharpness is often downplayed or taken for granted and it shouldn’t be when you consider all that he accomplished..

Below is our Hard Knock Radio interview with Sonia Sanchez


Sonia Sanchez is a force on to herself and also a treasure to our community.. We wanted to share with you a conversation we had several years ago when she talked about the Black Arts Movement and its relationship to Hip Hop


What is Hip Hop?: A Historical Definition of Rap pt2 (Street Hustlers to Revolutionary Poets)

Davey-D-purple-frameThis is part 2 of an article we penned called  The Historical Definition of Rap pt1. In that piece we talked about how the term Rap had been around long before DJ Kool Herc and his sister Cindy Campbell threw that first landmark Back to School party August 11 1973 in the community center at 1520 Sedgwick Ave in the Bronx.

Many are not aware that when Herc and his partners Coke La Rock and later Clark Kent rocked the mic, they used the words ‘rhyming’ and ’emceeing’ to describe their vocal expressions. The word Rap became attached to Hip Hop in 1979 with the release of Rapper’s Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang.

Prior to ’79, the word Rap was attached to a variety of other vocal activities most notably slick, persuasive talk from street hustlers, pimps and players. Rapping was all about mesmerizing and dazzling folks with words with an end goal of convincing one to give up everything from money to property to sexual favors. if you were said to have ‘a good rap’, then it meant you had the gift of gab which in many circles was revered and respected.



With respect to the act of rapping, many seem to think that saying rhymes in a syncopated fashion over music is unique to Hip Hop. That’s a mistake. To not see Rap as something that is rooted in deeper histories, is to short change Hip Hop culture. Simply put Rap is part of a continuum. Every generation within Black America can point to an activity or music style that included rap-like vocal expressions. They range from little girls doing double dutch jump rope to young kids doing engine engine number nine type rhymes to determine who would be it when playing tag.

We’ve seen expressions that we associate with rap today show up in the form of popular artists like Rudy Ray More aka Dolemite who did tons of movies where he did routines like his signature Signified Monkey .

We saw it surface with singer song writer Clarence Reid aka Blowfly who did x rated songs like Sesame Street and Rapp Dirty which was released in 1980 but according to him was written in 1965.

Both More and Reid come from a generation where street talk that encompassed rhyme was not unusual. Sometimes called signifying, testifying or playing the dozens, such expressions are key foundations and precursors to Rap.

We saw Rap expression show up in songs like Here Comes the Judge released in 1968 by comedian Pigmeat Markham. Although not called ‘rap’ it clearly could stand alongside anything we hear today.


We saw rap with Louis Jordan and his group Tympany Five and their landmark cut The Meeting which was released in 1962

In the same vein as Pigmeat is actor Lincoln Perry better known as Stepin Fetchit. The controversial character who many felt kept alive nasty stereotypes of Black people being lazy and shiftless was during his heyday in the 1940s,  the most successful Black actor in all of Hollywood. In this memorable scene from the 1945 musical Big Timers we see Perry hit up the piano and rap, decades before what we know as Hip Hop emerged..


Last Poets

Last Poets

We saw Rap expressions manifest itself in the form of revolutionary acts like the Last Poets, Gil Scott Heron and the Watts Prophets who are considered the grandfathers and godfathers to  modern-day rap. These acts emerged on the scene in the late 60s early 70s with the express purpose of providing sound tracks for the various Black liberation struggles taken place all over the country…Songs like When the Revolution ComesThe Revolution Will Not Be Televised and Tenements respectively exemplified the type of vibe they were kicking on the eve of Hip Hop’s birth.

Over the years not only have many of the songs from these acts have been sampled, but some of these acts have from time to time been featured in songs with popular artists. For example the Last Poets are featured on Common‘s song The Corner and NasYou Can’t Stop Us Now‘ which borrows the baseline from a classic  Temptations cut ‘Message to a Blackman

The Last Poets rap influence is shown on cuts like the White Man’s Got a God Complex which was featured on the ‘This is Madness‘ album (1971). It was remade 20 years later by groups like Public Enemy and Def Jef. Below is the PE version which keeps alot of original cadence in tact.

The Def Jef version of  God Complexx, shows not only the influence of the Last Poets but also Gil Scott-Heron as he uses the beat from Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

Ironically groups like NWA who were perceived as having an anti-revolutionary message sampled the Last Poets ‘Die Nigga‘ off their album ‘The Original Last Poets Right On‘ (1970) and made them known to younger generations with songs like ‘Real Niggaz Don’t Die‘ off the ‘Efil4zaggin’ (1991)


GilScottheronGil Scott-Heron is often called the Godfather to Rap. It was a title he shunned, stating he preferred to be known as a bluesologist. Nevertheless, Heron was a towering figure whose signature song Revolution Will Not be Televised was redone by too many Hip Hop artists to name. Cuts like B-Movie and ReRon which were released in 1980 and 1984 respectively demonstrated his Heron’s rapping ability.

He was also one of the first artists from the 60s/ Black Power generation to jump on a song with than modern day rap artists..The anti-Apartheid song Let Me See Your ID  (1985) which features, Run DMC, Kurtis Blow and Mele-Mel to name a few was monumental. The content and purpose of the song was incredible, but also although unintended it contrasted the generational differences in rap styles.

Watts Prophets Rapping BlackThe Watts Prophets have not only been heralded as important figures in the emergence of West Coast rap, but  in 1970 they released an album called ‘Rappin’ Black in a White World’. Many consider that to be the first to use the word ‘Rap’ to describe a  recording that featured rhyming, This groundbreaking album proceeds   ‘Rapper’s Delight‘ by almost 10 years. They also featured a woman vocalist named Dee Dee McNeil who isn’t often named when speaking of the Watts prophets


One artist who is in the same vein as these revolutionary poets but not as well-known is Stax Record recording artist John KaSandra nick named ‘Funky Philosopher‘. He did a bunch of black conscious songs in the early 70s including one that is many ways a head of its time for the emerging Hip Hop rap scene at the time..  ‘(What’s Under) The Natural Do’ (1970) is an incredible song that talks about Black power  and how folks are gonna have to do more than just wear an Afro hairstyle in order to uplift the community.


One can’t talk about the Last Poets, Gil Scott Heron and Watts Prophets and their influence on Rap without talking about the Black Arts Movement which proceeded them and exerted profound influence. BAM  introduced a style of spoken word that was hard-hitting, uncompromising and often recited over Bebop and Jazz. BAM co-founder Amiri Baraka than known as Leroy Jones illustrates that style with his famous piece Black Art.

Baraka’s ‘rap’ along with the spoken word and slang executed by others within the Black Arts Movement were such that it was hard for folks outside the scene to pick up and appreciate.It was for the Bebop crowd who coincidently called themselves ‘Hip’. It was deliberate in challenging the mainstream and being anti-establishment. It’s deliberately uncomfortable Many like to draw parallels to Hip Hop.


BAM member Sonia Sanchez gives a brief history of that time period and how their spoken word paved the way for modern-day raps heard within Hip Hop. Sonia Sanchez: From Black Arts to Hip Hop


Members of BAM

Members of BAM

Just for added understanding, one may wanna peep this brief documentary on bebop which was the precursor to the Black Arts Movement. Again here you will be able to draw some strong parallel to Hip Hop, especially when you consider that Bebopers called themselves coined the term ‘Hip’ which is how they referred to themselves. Peep  Bebop Jazz the Evolution of Culture Through Music.

These are just a few highlights of the many artists and expressions that are akin to rap to be in our midst before the birth of Hip Hop..Look out for pt 3 which deals with the influence of Black Radio deejays on what we know as Rap..

written by Davey D

OLM News w/ Davey D… Intv w/ Sgt Ron Stallworth on Infiltrating the KKK

One of the most intriguing and insightful individuals we ever sat down with is former Gang Intelligence Coordinator for the Utah police department, Sgt Ron Stallworth. Currently teaching, he is considered in law enforcement circles to be the foremost expert on what many have dubbed gangsta rap.

Yes, we know over the years there’s been a lot of attention given to ‘Hip Hop cops’ like Derrick Parker and the huge dossiers he and others had amassed on rappers, but Stallworth is the original. He’s penned several books on the gangsta rap, which up until recently were only available for law enforcement. Each one of the 4 books I have easily surpass the information and scholarship that we would see with current Hip Hop books on the market.

Stallworth explained that as a peace officer, writing and paying attention to detail is an important part of the job. Overlooking details and cutting corners could be the difference between life and death in the field, hence, his writings and books were and do reflect that..

Stallworth in his writings  attacked the subject of gangsta rap and Hip Hop  with a couple of thoughts in mind. First, he felt it was crucial to connect the historical dots. He was well aware that Hip Hop and Gangsta Rap did not occur in a political or social vacuum. He’s quite clear in noting that Black music expression is connected to struggle and key movements. he details these movements in his writings and explains how and why they are connected  Hip Hop.

Sgt Ron Stalworth

Stallworth covers everything from the Black Panthers to the Black Liberation Army, to the Nation of Islam to the Five Percenters to the Black Arts Movement and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. These details aren’t so much a rap sheet where he starts identifying particular folks. Instead he details such facets like the way the oral traditions are similar and contrasted with key orators in the Panthers vs popular gangsta rappers of the early 90s.  He in great detail, explains how the agendas and ideology of past  political and social movements manifest themselves in so-called gangsta rap.

Stallworth wanted to make sure those reading his work would have a better understanding who were was saying what and how it really matched up in real life. Stallworth would spend hours listening to artists, transcribing their lyrics and cross referencing their words with real life.  He noted that surprisingly lots of artists would literally brag about their exploits, gang affiliations etc.. he noted that many more were telling tall tales or being mouth pieces for neighborhood shot callers. Over the years Stallworth got good at knowing who was real and who was fake. He also got good at breaking down the lingo, double speak and street codes which unearth lots of information and insight.

Sgt Ron Stallworth holding KKK Membership card

In our round table interview we cover a lot of this.. But that’s only the beginning of Stallworth’s claim to fame. prior to getting into studying gangsta rap, Stallworth had infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan.It wasn’t just any KKK chapter. It was one that was stationed in the military bases in Colorado where they were actively recruiting. Stallworth as a brown skin Black man managed to not only infiltrate the chapter, but was offered an opportunity to be chapter leader. Yes, you read that right, its something out of a Dave Chappelle skit, 20 years before Chappelle showed up on the scene..  Stallworth carries a signed membership card from Klan leader David Duke who had no idea that he had been infiltrated..

We start off our round table discussion by talking about Stallworth investigation of the KKK and talk about the current rise of hate groups. During our discussion, he explained that he was going back to Colorado to speak to officers and fill in some key gaps of what he calls the ‘Lost Chapters‘. Stallworth explains that his boss at the time wanted the files on that case to be destroyed. Stallworth kept them and has no regrets considering the significance.

Enjoy this interview w/ Ron that recently aired on Free Speech Tv.. He gives us a lot of game to soak up..