by Rebecca ‘B-Fresh’ McDonald
Rhymesayers hosted A Benefit for Haiti on Tuesday night (raising over $25,000) with Toki Wright performing new material off his upcoming project, BlackMale, an 8-song EP full of his real-life stories and opinions about the black male’s experience. It will be released digitally on Rhymesayers on February 16 and will support Haiti relief as well: Fans will have the opportunity to donate any amount for direct relief efforts as Wright’s friend will be returing to Haiti to hand out basic needs items like aspirin and toothpaste with the proceeds.
I sat down with Wright to explore the connection he is making between the local and global community. See video slideshow below.
B FRESH: With the benefit for Haiti that Rhymesayers organized and your new project where all proceeds will go to the same cause, tell us about the importance of connecting the local with the global community. How do you stay active and engaged in this connection?
Toki Wright: The world is a lot smaller place than we think. We have a lot more in common with our global neighbors than we think. Our music travels across the world and effects many people. As long as you are telling a true story you can connect with others everywhere.
BF: With your organizing and activist hat on, what would you tell people about the struggle or obstacles in making these local/global connections?
TW: The struggle is to make sure that your words find their way into all communities and they are backed up by action.
BF: Your new project touches on similar issues: From your travels around the world to the experiences of a simple day in the barber shop. What should fans and supporters expect from BlackMale and of Toki Wright for 2010?
TW: People should expect a very well thought-out project in BlackMale. Every song on the project is significant to me. It shows my growth as an artist and a person since releasing A Different Mirror. In 2010, I have no plans of slowing down or stopping. I have my first headlining tour coming up (the Black Belt Tour) starting February 25th. I’m going to keep pushing my released projects while working on features and my new album.
BF: What is your inspiration for the project?
TW: I was inspired to add to the documentation of the African-American experience. As we advance technologically we also lose much of our storytelling. If people dig up the United States 1,000 years from now and all they hear are tales of violence and partying, it will make sense why we were led to our own destruction. I want to be able to add some other answers.
TW: Off of the track Time Zones-”You wont make it to see 25/they tell us in the hood but they aint tell the kids at Columbine.”
BF: What is your creative process like?
TW: Stress and relief.
BF: What is a habit you have or something quirky that you do while creating?
TW: I keep a pen and pad next to my bed and try to always write my first thoughts when waking up.
BF: After coming off of tour and setting into your new position over at McNally, what has changed about your lifestyle, music etc, and what has stayed the same?
BF: Do you have any other show coming up?
TW: Me and Sims from Doomtree had to make the decision of whether or not to play this benefit show because we are both playing at Sauce on Saturday, February 13th. The Haiti Benefit will be a lot shorter performances, but we knew we had to be present. I look forward to having a party with people both Tuesday and Saturday.
BF: If you could work with anyone this year who would it be and why?
TW: Me, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, and J Dilla on the production. Why not?
BF: Is there anything else you want the world to know about Toki Wright?
TW: “BlackMale” will be available online next Tuesday February 16th. Twitter me. @mrwrighttc
Below is an interview we did last year with Toki Wright..when he released his first Rhymesayer album