Interview With Malik And The OG’s!

Q. For people unfa­mil­i­ar with your work, what type of artist would you describe yourselves as?

Malik and the OG’s are artists who aim to con­tin­ue con­ven­tions rooted in Afric­an tra­di­tion, which were trans­ferred via slavery. We are a con­tem­por­ary world­wide out­fit with a back­ground in polit­ic­al and civil rights poetry. Gil Scott Her­on and The Last Poets, who were most instru­ment­al in the devel­op­ment of the out­fit, were part of the late six­ties move­ment of civil rights, the right to vote, deseg­reg­a­tion, and the scourge of inter­na­tion­al apartheid in all west­ern colo­ni­al nations. Although the move­ment star­ted in Amer­ica, The Last Poets brought it glob­al appeal, as did people like Ben­jamin Zephaniah in the UK, and ourselves. People like Lin­ton Kwesi John­son talk­ing about the Brix­ton riots has meant that con­tem­por­ary black spoken word still has the inspir­a­tion to teach con­text and inform­a­tion just like the civil rights speak­ers in their day, and that’s what we try to do.

Q. Do you view poetry and music as sep­ar­ate entit­ies that come togeth­er, or just a rep­res­ent­a­tion of art? What made you move across to music?

Music is the spoon­ful of sug­ar to help the medi­cine go down. Being a poet I aspire to not just wake up in morn­ing and find what to write about. I feel that is the wrong way to go about it and can lead to work that is self-indul­gent and mis­ses the point being made. I start with the con­text, feel it, then artic­u­late it to inspire oth­ers. Hav­ing the music along­side it means that it can be easi­er to digest and aids my mes­sage get­ting across.

Q. What drives your poetry?

My poetry is rooted in the pain of racism and oppres­sion. I feel I need to take that pain and artic­u­late it to the people who gave it out because people don’t under­stand how it feels. I do not take dir­ect action such as riot­ing and march­ing, but am inclined to a more peace­ful means of protest, or “Quiet revolu­tion”. Revolu­tion is noth­ing but change and the begin­ning of revolu­tion is when you change. Think of indi­vidu­als like Rosa Parkes not sit­ting in the segreg­ated sec­tions of the bus, or Bar­on­ess Doreen Lawrence fight­ing for justice for her murdered son. They affected change by mak­ing the estab­lish­ment feel their pain. Effect­ing change through thought not viol­ent con­front­a­tion, much like the civil rights move­ments, are sen­ti­ments I echo. My many years tour­ing with Gil Scott Her­on and learn­ing from The Last poets has shaped my iden­tity and given me focus as well. I learnt an awful lot and am very grate­ful to them.

Q. Tell us of your involve­ment in Hust­lers con­ven­tion and what it means to you? What can we expect from your set?

Jalalud­din Mansur Nur­id­din (one of the found­ing mem­bers of The Last Poets) per­son­ally reques­ted for us to open show, and of course I jumped at the oppor­tun­ity. Chuck D of Pub­lic Enemy is cur­at­ing an exhib­it at Smith­so­ni­an on Hip hop as part of their Afric­an Amer­ic­an His­tory and Cul­ture com­mem­or­a­tion, and to do this a film was com­mis­sioned. The Hust­lers con­ven­tion was the first Hip Hop album to really send a mes­sage and make a state­ment about civil rights at the time and the move­ment that was in place, and it is import­ant that the value of this work is not lost. This is the 1st live per­form­ance in over  40 years!  Industry stars like Orphy robin­son from Jazz War­ri­ors Col­lect­ive jumped at chance so it wasn’t dif­fi­cult to put togeth­er. The Jazz Café felt like the per­fect ven­ue as so many of us have played there before and so many greats have also. It was just the right time and right ven­ue to give Jalal and the oth­ers the recog­ni­tion they deserve for start­ing the move­ment off.

Q. What is it that we can expect from Malik and the OG’s this cel­eb­ra­tion of the Hustler’s Con­ven­tion?

The essence of rap rooted in spoken word and civil rights, not pimps and hoes. What we see in the pub­lic eye and media today is a per­ver­sion of true hip hop. Malik and the OG’s go back to roots of it. Our albums (Rhythms of the Dia­spora volumes 1 and 2) are rooted in spoken word and raise polit­ic­al aware­ness. It is a con­tem­por­ary inter­pret­a­tion of drum and poets, just like The Last Poets in Har­lem on the bas­ket­ball courts in the 60’s., and that is what we aim to bring.

Q. Do you find there is a dimin­ish­ing audi­ence for arts which are not per­ceived as main­stream or is the sup­port as strong as ever?

I feel Hip Hop is try­ing to recal­ib­rate itself and try­ing to find its way again. The Gos­pel com­munity is a prime example of people who feel they are no longer rep­res­en­ted. What we have at the moment is Hip Hop which not mor­ally rep­res­ent­at­ive of its true essence and every­body gets tar­nished with this same brush.  How­ever, artists like Immor­tal Tech­niques and KRS-One still going strong.  These artists which are stand­ing up and say­ing what is worth speak­ing about are still deliv­er­ing the mes­sage. Even the big names in the industry like Kanye West are look­ing back now. He was at Gil Scott Heron’s funer­al and has done a song when he doesn’t just sample Gil but pro­duces over the entire song.  A won­der­ful tribute.Common is heav­ily involved in CNN’s cam­paign again­st mod­ern slavery, and teh Haiti Appeal. He has a social con­science which has been endorsed by Gil, who described him to me once as “a fine young man”, so there are still people out there who are rel­ev­ant and mak­ing the right sounds among­st the noise.

Q. What does the future hold for Malik and the OG’s?

To con­tin­ue to per­form and spread the word. What we want to try and main­tain is the mes­sage, as a wise man once said, that “We are who we are, because they did what did”. That is a mes­sage than can­not be for­got­ten and we will con­tin­ue to sup­port that.  We are look­ing to do some­thing for UNESCO Inter­na­tion­al slavery remem­brance day, although noth­ing is con­firmed yet, but we will cer­tainly look to con­tin­ue to bring new ideas and mes­sages in the future.

For more inform­a­tion on Malik & The OG’s vis­it https://www.facebook.com/pages/Malik-The-OGs/171722166201820

Sunny Sharma

 

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