A Dope Emcee & Singer w/ a Revolutionary Spirit; Meet Maimouna ‘Mumu Fresh’ Yousseff

Baltimore native Maimouna Youssef is a breath of fresh air at a time when far too many are stale with their desire to be good marketers and packagers, reality TV stars or an over-the-top controversial figure vs being a damn good artist.

Because Maimouna who is best known via her nickname Mumu Fresh, stays focused on exploring and highlighting her art as opposed to marketing herself, there are many who are reading this who will note they never heard of her.. That’s ok, its time to get familiar because the sista is no joke.

First you should know she’s a songwriter and producer. Yes, she gets busy behind the boards. Also, she’s a dope singer with a soulful angelic voice.

If that’s not enough she’s nice on the mic as an emcee and will definitely take your lunch money if you step to her wrong in a cipher.. She’s been nominated for a Grammy, Best Rap song for her contribution on the song Don’t feel Right by the Roots.. That’s her you hear flipping the hook.. We thought you knew

Over the years Mumu Fresh has performed and worked with everyone from Nas to Talib Kweli to Big Daddy Kane, Jill Scott, Mos Def, Eryka Badu, Zap Mama, dead prez, and Cody Chestnut to name a few..On top of all that Maimouna ghostwrites for quite a few folks..She’s definitely well respected and sought out by her peers.

Those are just few highlights.. What really shines about this sista is the fact that she comes hard on the cultural and political tip. She doesn’t preach or get all up in your grill telling you how you need to act or what and who you should believe or follow, but her presence is strongly rooted in the tradition of revolution and freedom fighting. You hear that in songs like title track featuring Zap Mama of the Blooming album..or in tracks like Wake Up which takes on Monsanto.

The fact that Maimouna has remained independent by choice speaks volumes about where her head is at. In our interview featured below, she talks about the importance of positioning oneself to have true artistic freedom..With respect to her music, it goes beyond way beyond cheap sloganeering. Its nurturing for both the mind and soul and defies all industry labeling limitation. On her new album the Blooming, you have songs that are rap, songs that are bluesy and others that funk oriented.. Mumu says at the end of the day, its all Black music and as an artist she goes deep and takes us on an incredible journey through all types musical genres connected to the African diaspora.

Listen to our Breakdown FM/ All Day Play interview below w/ Maimouna Youssef

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw5s0Klmu84

Adidas Cancels Their ‘Shackle Shoe’.. But When Will We Stop Being Slaves to Expensive Kicks?

A lot of folks were upset with the proposed ‘shackle’ sneaker designed by Jeremy Scott (JS Roundhouse) ..It was understandable, because the shackles look like a  throwback to slavery or modern-day prison bindings..The sneakers were set to be released in August and retail for $350.00. Because folks were so outraged, Adidas decided to cancel the release of those shoes..I’m not mad at that decision. Even though the designer claimed he was trying to be ‘quirky‘ and off beat, there’s nothing quirky or eccentric about slavery or prison..

With that being said, I gotta be honest and note the irony of folks being upset about this visible symbol of slavery but not too upset about it when its invisible. What do I mean?

Well over the years we’ve seen countless deaths over these and other expensive sneakers.. The outcry over these shackle shoes was the symbol and not the $350 price tag.. We have countless people hopelessly hooked on spending their last dollar on these and other shoes including the recently released kicks sporting rap superstar Kanye West‘s name.. Nike Air Yeezy II. They’re going for $285 a pair.. This wouldn’t be so bad except such über expensive items are marketed to poor people, many who’ve become mentally enslaved to the idea that they must own a pair at all costs. The end result as I mentioned earlier is more than a few deaths. If folks aren’t slaying and robbing each other, then we’re running around with our chest out and basing a lot of our inner self-worth on these shoes..We’ve become enslaved to blinging in the middle of a recession.

Kanye West has $285 dollar sneakers called Air Yeezys

Of course the shoe companies like to step back and take no blame.. They like to kick it back to the parents, churches and schools and hide behind the concept of ‘free market‘ and ‘supply and demand‘.  No one wants to talk about the mindset of kids that feel so compelled to own a pair of certain types of sneakers that they’ll kill or risk death over them.. No one wants to talk about the deep desire to own these shoes even if they are made in sweat shops with slave labor. They must own a pair at all costs.. That’s pretty powerful.

No one wants to talk about the millions they spend in marketing research which results in them honing sophisticated strategies designed to get inside the heads and psychologically hook particular demographics of people, most of them young. many of them poor.  No one wants to talk about how these expensive shoes folks are overly attached to are made for pennies on the dollar. It was this fear of sophisticated marketing and the concern of folks deemed vulnerable and easily influenced that we don’t have cigarette and certain types of alcohol ads on TV..

Yes, I’m glad Adidas got rid of this silly line of sneakers.. We have enough symbols of prison and slavery we don’t need to spend an extra $350 for more conditioning.. I’ll be even more happy when I can wake up and not see folks who can’t identify their mayor or congressperson or the political winds and policy adversely impacting them, who will spend the night in front of the local shoe store to get their hands on the latest $300 kicks that have been deliberately marketed so there are limited amounts.

Food for Thought..

written by Davey D

 

A Few Thoughts on the Passing of Rodney King…He Symbolized Naive Belief in a Broken Justice System

The news of Rodney King being found dead in his swimming pool Sunday morning came as a shock. The man who became the face of the ’92 LA Uprisings was seen damn near everywhere over the past couple of months as many of us looked back at what progress we made or didn’t make on the 20th anniversary of LA exploding in the wake of 4 LA officers shown on film beating King being acquitted.

King seemed like a man who had turned a corner after years of a troubled past. He seemed like a man on a mission. Since early April of this year, we saw him doing interview after interview from coast to coast. In some he was seen and heard promoting his new book  ‘The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption ‘. In others he was discussing his prominent role in the MTV/VH1 documentary  Uprising: Hip Hop and the LA Riots. In still others he was weighing in on the recent slaying of Trayvon Martin and how that was impacting race relations in comparison to what he went through.

King appeared on national news shows, syndicated radio shows and local outlets..For the most part he seemed upbeat and centered. He seemed focus and on his way to doing some big things… It was good to see him in good spirits moving onward and upwards. Many like myself were rooting for him.. We wanted Rodney King to win.

We wanted King to win, because the system that he wound up challenging failed him and it failed us miserably on so many levels. It’s hard for people of younger generations to really understand what it meant when we saw the horrific footage of King being brutally beaten LA police officers after a traffic stop in ’91.

Despite its unsettling nature and the anger it conjured up, the video gave us all a sense of hope. At long last all those stories Black and Brown folks told of over the top police brutality which were routinely dismissed, said to be outright lies & exaggerations or somehow justifiable police actions was finally caught on tape. The whole world got to see the truth before their eyes. We felt vindicated and we knew those cops were gonna pay.

Rodney King and that tape of his beating had many of us buying into the belief that justice would be served. Those responsible would be punished and substantial changes would come within LAPD and police departments all over the country. On April 29 1992, the acquittal of those 4 officers moved Rodney King from a symbol of Hope to a symbol Naivety. Sadly he underscored that naivety when he stood before the world as LA was being burned down by folks angered by the verdict and asked in a halting voice.. Can We Get Along?

Him asking that famous question had many of us concluding that we can’t trust the system nor could we trust Rodney King to toe the line for the people when we needed it most… It disappointed and angered us  that King still was believing in the justice system when were all given a clear message it would not ever work for us.. It certainly didn’t work for him..

For those of us who lived in LA or the West Coast in general, seemingly not a year went by that we didn’t hear a news report about King getting arrested for driving drunk, crashing his car or getting shot at.. Many around the country became got wind of how deeply troubled King was when he showed up on a couple of reality TV shows including; Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. At first the incidents left us shaking our heads asking how could King be messing up after all he been through?  As we matured, we began to see King as a man who needed help.

Those who knew him, they say  Rodney King never truly got over the beating. He always seemed ill at ease as if he was in search of  something like he was under duress.  I recall the first time I met King. It was at a movie premier in Oakland.. I was struck at how large of man he was. At the time he was jovial and had a bright smile, but he seemed haunted. One can only wonder how much help he really got in the aftermath of that beatings.

In recent years I began to wonder if all the widespread media coverage of his transgressions was simply par for the course or payback for King exposing how sadistic LAPD could be.. At times it seems like the message being sent to the world at large with the highlighting of King’s brushes with the law was; he deserved that vicious beating. He’s a constant screw up and LAPD and the police in general did nothing wrong.

Last month 17-year-old Alan Bluford, 2 weeks from graduation, was killed by Oakland police who claimed he shot them. Investigation showed the police officer shot himself and lied. He’s still on the force with pay..This exemplifies the type of progress made since Rodney King

20 years after Rodney King we haven’t seen a whole lot of improvement with the police.  Since the King beating we’ve seen numerous video tapes of police beatings and even killings with no punishment at all.. The one exception might be the cops recently sent to jail for murdering two men on the Danzinger Bridge in New Orleans during the Katrina floods, but nowhere else.. and even then alot of that was the result of some serious investigative reporting by white journalist who would not let the coverup around that case go.

Everywhere else things have been ramped up.. Police killing Black & Brown people under questionable circumstances are all too common from Amadou Diallo to Sean Bell to Kenneth Walker, Nathaniel Sanders, Danroy “D.J.” Henry, Anette Garcia, Daniel Rocha to Oscar Grant.  More recently we’ve had the slaying of Rekia Boyd NFL star David Turner, Kenneth Chamberlain, Kendrac McDade and Alan Bluford to name a few, at the hands of police.. There’s a long list of names with little or no improvement within America’s police departments or her justice system in terms of prosecuting and bringing out of control cops to justice.

Even, in Los Angeles the place where Rodney King’s beating was supposed to spark improvement within LAPD we see that police killing civilians is up a whopping 70%. There was the revelation of a group of rogue LA cops recently suspended called the Jump Out Boys.. This is all on top of LA’s Rampart Scandal which was one of the largest police corruption cases in the country, leading to the disbanding of the departments CRASH Unit.

One would think after the King beating we would’ve witnessed a sea change of improvements within the police departments. sadly what we’ve seen is fast track to enhanced, new and improved forms brutality and harassment. Since the killing of Trayvon Martin we’ve had over 30 Black people alone killed by police. That speaks volumes.

Rodney King

Rodney King started off being a symbol of hope for better days to come.. In his death which ironically came on the same day we saw massive silent marches in New York City to protest their outlandish Stop-and Frisk program, King came to symbolize that even when atrocities by the police are committed in plain view for all to see there will be no justice.. As a fitting reminder to this assertion, yesterday’s large peaceful march ended with violent arrests. NYPD used the tactic of intimidation and force to break up the large groups of protestors.

Hopefully Rodney King is at peace for real..As for the rest of us the struggle continues in a very real way.. King should be reminder the systems of oppression never sleep and never forgets.

written by Davey D