An Open Letter to the Hip Hop Community About Immigration


An Open Letter to the Hip Hop Community About Immigration

by Adisa Banjoko
original article-April 20 2006
Below is a speech I gave in Watsonville, CA on April 17th 2006. I was invited to come down and speak by the Watsonville Brown Berets. Fred Hampton Jr. of the P.O.C.C. and Immortal Technique also represented HARD that day.
It was an amazing display of racial, political, religious and Hip Hop unity. There were b-boy circles, tons of performers, spoken word poets and vocal performers. Mexican, Black, Asian, White, Arab and Native Americans all came together in peace. There was no violence and no threats of violence. I must commend the Berets on making everyone feel welcome, secure and for running an efficient schedule. I dont have the official numbers but I estimated about 700 people to have been in attendance.
With me representing the west, Fred Hampton Jr. representing the Midwest and Immortal Technique repping the east- it was an unprecedented display of nationwide unity on the issue of justice for immigrants and justice for the youth. I was honored to have been a part of this event. I hope more people do their homework and research on the Brown Berets, the Black Panthers and why unity between Black and Brown is so important in this these times. My speech was entitled Keys to the True Unification of Black and Brown Peoples. Big shout out to Anas, JR, Mike Perry, Tomas, Scape Martinez and my man Apakalips from the Universal Zulu Nation. The beauty and power of this day will live in my heart forever, inshallah. 
Adisa Banjoko
As Salaam Alaikum,
My name is Adisa Banjoko. I am the author of Lyrical Swords Vol. 2: Westside Rebellion. It deals with Black and Brown unity. It deals with a lot of political and social issues that we face every day. I speak in a lot of places. Some times its prisons, sometimes its universities. Today I am honored to be here with the Brown Berets. I am honored to be here with the beautiful people of Watsonville.
I came today to talk about peace and unity. Peace and unity is something that we absolutely have to have in this moment, dealing with the Bush administration and the things we face today. The Black people of America cannot do it alone. The Latino people cannot do it alone. The Arab cannot do it alone. The Muslim, the Christian and the Jew cannot do it alone. The Buddhist cannot do it alone. We have to be unified in this moment.
Peace and unity are both byproducts of knowledge. Meaning that when I fist got into knowledge of self, as an African American, I was only focused on that. It took me a moment to learn about the beauty of the Mayan people, of the Aztec people, of Cesar Chavez and Delores Huerta.
I had to do that to be a true humanist. You have to read about humanity! If all I read about is me, and all I care about are the struggles of the Black man- then Im going to have a very small window [to see the spectrum of life through].
We have to take the time to defend one another. We cannot be afraid to defend one another. I am here defending you. Defending what you stand for. Defending your rights. This is your land. I wont pretend that its not. I stand here today as a descendent of slaves. I descendent of SLAVES.
I am Muslim. But the Dali Lama was here in the Bay Area just the other day with Hamza Yusuf from the Zaytuna Institute. They built upon the peaceful nature of both of these faiths. My faith has been demonized by the press.
 Since 911, many people from Saudi Arabia, many people from Pakistan, many people from Palestine, Iran and Yemen were harassed. They were sent to prison and abused by this Bush Administration. This was because of their faith, because of their race.
We must make America live up to its words on paper. Not just for my sake. Not just for your sake. Its for the sake of all people who walk on this soil. We deserve this justice. We are not asking for anything that is not already on paper. We are not asking for anything we dont already know that belongs to us here. It belongs to us here!
When you look at the ghettos across America, were very lucky to be on the west coast. Out integration levels are much higher than in other places like NY. The Blacks and Latinos dont always mesh [out there]. Thats tragic.
But thats why the Bay Area is so special. Thats why we have to seize this moment right now. Thats why we cannot hesitate to defend one another in this moment. My father is originally from New Orleans- from the Magnolia projects. My mother is originally from Monroe Louisiana.
But when my father came to the Bay in his youth, he grew up in the Mission District. As a young boy I was always around Delores Park. I was always around 24th and Mission. I was always around my Latino peoples.
I dont have another frame of reference for Latino peoples than my brothers. I have no other frame of reference. Its the first brotherhood I knew.  
Whether you are Mexican, Nicaraguan, Panamanian, Brazilian, Puerto Rican- we are all in the ghetto together! Oppressed by the same people. Struggling to get the same knowledge- that they hide from us in the schools. Struggling, to not be abused by the police. Struggling to find work and provide for our families, for our children and be safe.
Unity is the key. Arab unity. Black unity. Latino, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist Jew. The realest of us. THE REALEST OF US! We are all attacked by this administration. But there is another enemy.
Before I get to the other enemy I must mention that these people who attack usWho dont like events like thisThis is why todays event is so important. These people dont respect our history and they dont want our children to know it. They dont want your children to know their beautiful history- of Aztlan. They dont want my children to know the beautiful history of Africa.
But this other enemy- they are people within BOTH of our cultures. We have to work against the people who look like me- but they are against Black and Brown unity. We need to work against the people who look like YOU- but they are against Black and Brown unity. Because they can hurt this more than the Bush Administration, more than right wing republicans. More than any of them! We need to cleanse our own people, of the bigotry, and the fear [that causes distrust in our hearts].
I will take it on, on my side. But I need you to take it on, on your side so we can be truly united. I spoke just a few weeks ago at San Quentin Prison. I was on the exercise yard and I spoke to every group of people on the yard. Two minutes after I left there was a fight on the yard between Black and Brown. This is unacceptable.
I was just talking to them right before it happened. I said Yall need to be going back to the Brown Berets and yall need to be going back to the Panthers. Understand that I was speaking on the same soil where George Jackson and Jonathan Jackson were killed. We need to get back to that [ way of living together].
But a lot of the conflicts that do happen between Black and Brown happens because of drugs. It deals with crack, it deals with meth, it deals with ecstasy. It deals with things that dehumanize both of our people. Drugs have been used to destroy Black and Brown people.
We have to keep our children out of gangs. We have to be dedicated to that. We have to keep our children knowing that there is more beauty in knowing about Aztlan than knowing about the blunts. We have to let them know there is more beauty in then knowing about Africa, than knowing about crack, and thizzin and going dumb. We need to get smart in this moment.
We need to get smart in this moment! We need to fight in this moment! We cannot be afraid in this moment!
Cesar Chavez, Delores Huerta the Brown Berets the Black Panthers are better than any drug they can try and feed our children.
We have to be open enough to learn about other faiths. I do my best to read about other faiths all the time. I am a nonviolent man of God. I follow a Prophet of Peace. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. But I am not afraid to die for this. Im not afraid to die for anybody in this room. Im not afraid to die for the truth that Malcolm, that Martin that all of these freedom fighters before us- [loud applause roar]. If they did not do it, WE would not be here today. Lets be honest about that.
But yo, nothings going to hold me back, or block me. They gonna have to pop me to stop me. This is why Im here.
The corporate media machine does a great job of brainwashing our children. Of having our children wish that they were in jail. Of having our children on dope and violent against one another. They make it easy for them to fight against one another. We have to start taking the time privately and publicly to start squashing that.
An organization that I represent is called Project Islamic H.O.P.E. Its based in LA and led proudly by Najee Ali. If you go to you can see that hes working with the Mayor of Los Angeles to host a beautiful Black and Brown unity conference (June 3rd 2006).
I hope everybody goes to that. One day will not solve this. We have to make sure we are working tomorrow. We have to make sure we are working next month. We have to make sure that we are reading and reaching out.
I was just talking to my brother, Anas, on the way down. He said Look we have to utilize the internet. All of the organizers before us never had the ability to use the internet as a tool to organize. Just to find out our respective histories, let alone have direct contact. We have to use all levels of technology and all levels of online and offline strategies.
But you know brothers like Davey D promoted this event real hard. He was one of the ONLY people who went down to LA and supported yall in that march. Im sorry that more African American leaders from the old guard havent supported you. I dont know whats going on with them. I dont know what it says about their original intent that more of them did not step up and openly support you in Los Angeles.
But I am here. The young Muslim leadership is here. The young Black leadership is here. This is our time and I am with you. My people are with you. I promise you that. My man Apakalips from the Universal Zulu Nation is with you. Shamako Noble from the Hip Hop Congress is with you. Artists like Paris, T-Kash, Aya De Leon, Immortal Technique, Dilated Peoples, Nate Mezmer, Self Scientific. Follow those artists! Support those artists! They love you. They are rappin for you right now. You must support them.
Dont let your kids watch BET. Dont let your kids sit down in front of MTV. We have to be honest about this. Right now my man D Labrie from East Oakland is gonna spit this piece called Black & Brown. I told him I was doing this event, he kicked it to me over the phone and I had to have him come down and let you hear this. Thats my time. ALLAH U AKBAR! God is the greatest. May God bless ALL in this room so we can unite and fight every day.   
Adisa Banjokos next lecture is entitled Lyrical Warfare: Hip Hop,Religion and Politics in the New Century, at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania on Monday April 24th @ 7 PM. Rapper One Be Low will be ripping the mic at the close of the lecture. For more information email .


D12 Rapper Proof killed in shooting at afterhours nightclub



D12 rapper Proof killed in shooting at afterhours nightclub

An unidentified 35-year-old man, who was shot along with Proof, is in critical condition at Detroit’s St. John Hospital. Police were called to the shootings around 5 a.m, following reports of a fight and shots fired.

original article-April 11 2006 
proof-d12-75Rapper Proof of the hip-hop group D12 was shot and killed this morning at an illegal afterhours club on Eight Mile, police said. Proof, whose real name is Deshaun Holton, was dead on arrival at Conner Creek Medical Center in Detroit, according to a spokeswoman for St. John Health System. He was 32.
Proof was among the most pivotal players on the Detroit hip-hop scene, and revered as one of the best freestyle MCs in the city. He befriended Eminem long before he was a houshold name, and was a nearly constant presence as the rapper rose to superstardom. He toured with Eminem as his on-stage hype man, was a member of his group D12, had a bit role in the “8 Mile” movie and served as the best man at his wedding in January.



The club where it occurred is called 3C, and it’s at 8 Mile near Hayes. The club isn’t illegal but it was operating illegally after hours.

This is the second shooting involving Eminem’s entourage in three months.

Another Eminem pal and rapper Obie Trice was shot and wounded New Year’s Eve while driving along the Lodge Freeway.

Anyone with information on the shootings is asked to call Detroit Police at 313-596-2260.

 Positive Proof: Longtime Eminem collaborator upbeat as he prepares for the release of his first solo album

April 11, 2006


Proof (Mario “”Khalif” Butterfield/Iron Fist Records)
Originally published August 7, 2005

Detroit rapper Proof could have unveiled his first solo album ages ago. But a few distractions sort of, you know, popped up.

That’s bound to happen when you’re tight with the guy who becomes the biggest star in hip-hop, when that momentum carries your own group to the top of the charts, when you spend your time onstage in sold-out stadiums, on the world’s movie screens, on the cover of Rolling Stone.

But even as Proof found himself caught up in the hysteria generated by his close friend Eminem and their group D12, the rapper born DeShaun Holton kept the concept percolating in the back of his brain: a hip-hop record that would evoke the spirit — if not exactly the sound — of a rock ‘n’ roll legend.

The result is finally at hand. On Tuesday, Proof will release “Searching for Jerry Garcia,” a 20-track album more than three years in the making. It’s not just his solo debut; the record also marks the inaugural release for his Iron Fist Records, the label with which Proof hopes to do his part for Detroit’s ongoing musical resurgence.

Proof will toast the album’s release Friday at the State Theatre, soon after the festivities wrap up across the street at Comerica Park, where he’ll accompany Eminem, D12, 50 Cent and 40,000 hometown fans for the U.S. finale of the Anger Management Tour. He’ll be joined at the State by G-Unit’s Lloyd Banks and Young Buck, and premiere the glitzy video for his record’s first single, “Gurls Wit Da Boom.

These are heady days for Proof, whose album arrives as D12’s members begin branching out in anticipation of a career shift by Marshall Mathers. But before he’ll even talk about the music of “Garcia,” Proof acknowledges the obvious: “People hear the title,” he says, “and wonder what in the world I’m talking about.”

Among the puzzled were the administrators of Jerry Garcia’s estate, who insisted Proof obtain permission to use the name of the late Grateful Dead guitarist, a moniker that has long evoked instant images of ’60s hippie culture.

But while Proof is a well-versed fan of rock, including the Dead’s rootsy folk and blues, his album isn’t some interstellar merger of rap and tie-dyed San Fran jam. The title actually reflects a more personal quest, one that began during the height of D12 mania, when the lightning-tongued MC found himself plagued by “stress, a bad diet and drugs.”

Proof says he found resonance in the story of Garcia, who endured similar struggles while continually seeking catharsis in an eclectic musical approach.

“It’s about coming back, finding the way,” he says. “I think there’s some Jerry Garcia in all of us.”

Proof has been getting himself to this point for quite some time.
These days, even casual followers of hip-hop are well acquainted with his face and voice. For six years, he’s been Eminem’s prime companion onstage, a seemingly constant presence at the side of his fellow Detroit rapper. With D12, he’s become an MTV and radio celebrity via such hits as “Purple Pills” and “My Band.”

But around Detroit, Proof was the preeminent figure in hip-hop years before the Eminem explosion tacked the city’s name onto the national rap map. If you weren’t there in person during the mid-’90s — inside the Hip Hop Shop, for instance, where he hosted Detroit’s top rap battles — you can just rent the movie “8 Mile.”

There you’ll find him embodied in the character played by Mekhi Phifer, who tapped Proof’s cool-but-in-control persona for a role based on the rapper’s position as Detroit hip-hop ringleader.

“He was one of the hardest-working MCs in the city,” says Khalid el-Hakim, Iron Fist’s vice president and a veteran of the Detroit scene. “He was a master of self-promotion. Early on, he was appearing on everybody’s projects, and a lot of people really looked up to Proof. He still has that same work ethic. He doesn’t stop.”

As Eminem himself has said, Proof was instrumental in carving out a place in the scene for the aspiring rapper. Without the assist, Marshall Mathers might never have made it onto local stages, let alone become one of the world’s most familiar celebrities.

“He legitimized Em in the Detroit hip-hop community,” says el-Hakim. “I think most people weren’t feeling a white MC at that time. Proof was pushing him because he heard something there. He had his back.”

Proof, who would go on to win Source Magazine’s national rap battle in 1999, was known as the city’s top freestyler, a gifted improviser with a biting wit. The vote of confidence went a long way — and returned big dividends when Proof got taken along for the Slim Shady ride.

After Eminem’s launch into the hip-hop stratosphere, Proof channeled most of his rhymes into D12’s material, his relaxed but rough-edged flow a distinct trait of the group’s work. Through it all, he made sure to save some for himself, steadily accumulating the songs that would ultimately make up “Garcia.”

It’s a whirl of creative enterprise that Proof long ago learned how to navigate.

“I try not to compare any of it at all,” Proof says. “My D12 deal is my D12 deal, the Em stuff is the Em stuff, my solo deal is my solo deal. You’ve gotta try to do something extra with each one.”

Production began on the record in 2002, with release planned for the following spring. But all was placed on hiatus after a series of what Proof describes as business hardships and the record industry’s “Jedi mind tricks,” including a botched distribution deal and personnel turnover within his own camp.

When he returned to the project last year, he replaced half the album with new cuts. It was a savvy move: “Garcia” now showcases the services of guests such as 50 Cent, Nate Dogg and Obie Trice, along with a full-on D12 collaboration — including you-know-who — on “Pimplikeness.” El-Hakim says the album has garnered more than 200,000 advance orders through Alliance Distribution, one of the nation’s biggest music wholesalers and Iron Fist’s link to the big leagues.

“Gurls Wit Da Boom,” a slinky club track that would fit comfortably on an MTV summer playlist, is something of an anomaly. Most of the “Garcia” tracks — many built on live instrumentation — find Proof tapping and tweaking a host of styles. Songs like the opening “Clap Wit Me” and “Bilboa’s Theme” evoke the jazzy funk of his Detroit compatriates in Slum Village. “Forgive Me” (with 50 Cent) and “72nd and Central” (with Obie Trice) groove atop the strings, harpsichords and minor keys of the darker Shady sound. “High Rollers,” with Method Man and B. Real, takes a toke off Kanye West-style soul.

That’s the same sort of diversity Proof says he’ll bring to Iron Fist, where he’s working with acts ranging from Detroit hip-hop ensemble Purple Gang to vocalist Stephanie Christian of rock band JoCaine.

“I don’t want to be just another rapper putting out rap acts, and I’m looking for a lot of different talent,” he says. “This is the rock city.”

Whatever the fate of the new record — which will likely enjoy underground success even if it doesn’t break mainstream — Proof and his associates are pleased that he’s at last getting his own say.

“Proof has taken this album back to his Detroit hip-hop roots, but at the same time, he’s drawing on his experiences from around the world,” says el-Hakim. “He’s invested a lot of time and effort into making this happen, because this is his chance to let the world know who he really is.”

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Breakdown FM-Rick Rock & the Federation Going Beyond Hyphy

Rick Rock & the Federation Going Beyond Hyphy

by Davey D

original article: April 03 2006

Listen to Rick Rock and Federation Interview on Breakdown FM

Last week the Bay Area was treated to good news when E-40’s new album My Ghetto Report Card debuted on the Billboard charts at number one. His new single Tell Me When to Go is a bonafide hit that is lighting up radio station and night clubs from here to New York, throughout the South and even spots overseas are checking out the buzz and everybody is asking What does it mean to be Hyphy?

There is no doubt the Bay is on fire. Currently there are bidding wars amongst major labels for acts like Mista F.A.B. and Rick Rock and the Federation. T-Kash who is signed to Pariss Guerilla Funk label is finding that his new politically charged album Turf War Syndrome is one of the most sought after and heavily added on the college radio circuit. If thats not enough the Paris produced Public Enemy album Rebirth of a Nation came in at number 33 on the Billboard charts which is great for a small indie label. Lastly we have super producer Rick Rock and his group the Federation who are currently enjoying major radio play in cities like New York with their new smash 18 Dummies. Now with that being said and done the 64 thousand dollar question is Will the Bay Areas Hyphy Movement catch on and become a nationwide thing that sticks?

According to super producer Rick Rock aka the King of Slaps who along with his group The Federation put out the first Hyphy record 5 years ago, The Bay will become a nationwide stop only if people make a firm commitment to step their business game up and do good music. He emphasized the point that while Hyphy is the in thing right now, its going to take more than a bunch of songs that have the words Hyphy and other related lingo in the hooks to keep the momentum going. He elaborated by pointing out that the Hyphy Movement has gotten the music industrys attention and helped opened a lot of doors, but Bay artists will have to stretch out and constantly challenge themselves.

You have to keep putting paint where it aint, Rick Rock said. You have to come with something different. It does no good to drive down the street and hear the same Hyphy record with all different artists. Its what I call the Das EFX Syndrome. Rock was referring to the rap group Das EFX who came out with a unique triple time rhyme style that got widely mimicked to the point it hurt their careers.

Rock noted that his group is trying to stay ahead of the curve by taking innovative steps and pushing the musical envelop. Case in point, he dipped into his rock-n-roll roots and teamed up with drummer Travis Barker to do a song. Rick noted that he has always been a rock fan and the beats he creates is influenced by bands like Metallica who he considers one of the best groups of all-time.

Rock explained that Barker had heard some of the Bay Areas Hyphy songs and felt that it was natural cousin to in terms of energy and drive you hear in hardcore rock. He was anxious to get down with the Federation cats and the rest they say is history. To hear lead rappers Goldie Gold, Stress and Doonie Baby spitting on fiery lyrics over Barkers drums and Ricks amped up hyphy oriented music is something that will undoubtedly change the game once its released.

Its these types of steps that are going to help keep the Bay Areas profile elevated. Its also going to take folks who are hungry for the spotlight to sit back and stop hating on one another. Regional infighting based upon who is getting recognized is what has crippled the Bay and other burgeoning regions in the past. These were points that were emphasized by Federation members Doonie Baby and Goldie Gold. They noted that theres enough room for everybody to eat and share the spotlight.

Rock who also noted this point said its time for a lot of folks to sit down and have close door meeting to 1-Get a clearer understanding of what to expect with all this increased industry attention. 2-Learn how to better handle the business expectations major labels and other outlets will have of local artists entering into the game .3- How to operate in a hater free environment. In other words as the Bay tightens up on its business and beats it will be national factor that enjoys the spotlight for years to come.

Listen to Rick Rock and Federation Interview on Breakdown FM

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