Thursday, May 10, 2007
Medusa: The Real
Here's a piece I just did for the LA Weekly on local rapper Medusa. There've been some glitches on the Weekly site so you might see some odd and random letters or punctuation marks just dropped in the middle of a word or sentence. Apologies for that. Especially since Medusa gave some really great responses to the questions about the state of hip-hop today, the gentrification of LA's great Negro arts neighborhood, Leimert Park, and her stint in jail. I have a much longer version of the interview that I'm going to try to squeeze into my book.
Here's the link to the interview with Medusa.
I also did a profile on Peter Woods, a young mover & shaker in the LA arts and club scene. Here's an excerpt from the Woods interview:
LA Weekly: It seems that the black arts community in L.A. is being revitalized. A lot of people are doing interesting, vibrant work. How does the view look from where you sit — is that perception accurate or not? And why this resurgence now?
Woods: Since Birth of a Nation, African-Americans have been dealt an identity by those who control the media, whether we identified with that identity or not. The idea of black inferiority has been ingrained into our own self-image to such a degree that it’s caused a sort of psychosomatic self-hate syndrome, producing African-Americans that would rather subscribe to the racist views of the oppressor than redefine our own identity in our society and embrace the rich and full history that is ours. While some will argue quote-unquote ‘artistic freedom’ for artists that pander to these negative images, I say that media representation is very powerful in shaping public perception of us and indeed our own perception of ourselves. And that could be used to turn the tides.
We don’t have the luxury of pursuing artistic freedom when the so-called art is used against us as negative advertising. A good example is the Truth campaign against smoking. For decades, multimillion-dollar organizations were unable to put a dent in rising new-smoker stats. The Truth — using controversial TV commercials, avant-garde public performance art and viral marketing techniques — was able to reduce new smokers between [ages] 16 and 21 by more than 14 percent within two years. The Cancer Society, American Lung Association and others have been around for years and years, and have never been able to do that. And when you really look at that, smoking is more than a tangible product; it’s a lifestyle. The only way you can change a lifestyle is through changing your perspective. I believe we can use this approach to change the perspective of African-Americans, to empower ourselves through this creativity.
Right now, I think African-Americans are getting a clear view of how bad a condition we’re in. With that knowledge coming into view, you have an upsurge of individuals who want to try and address these issues. Once all of these individuals are synchronized into a unified, collective struggle, I believe the amount and impact of this work will increase tenfold.
For the rest of the interview with Woods, click here.