Interview With Malik & The O.G’s!

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“The God­father of Rap”, “The Archi­tect of Hip-Hop”, “Artist Again­st Apartheid”, “The Black Bob Dylan”, “A vic­tim of his own poetry” were all mantra’s used to describe the com­plex artist that is Gil Scott-Her­on, but to Liv­er­pool street kid Malik Al Nas­ir then 18 years old and home­less, Gil rep­res­en­ted some­thing far more sim­ple. He rep­res­en­ted hope!

Gil took Malik on the road in 1984 and kept him by his side, rais­ing him like a son and teach­ing him the polit­ics and the busi­ness, until Malik was run­ning his own record label and record­ing with Gil and his band under his own name Malik & the O.G’s. When Gil died Malik’s story went glob­al and became the de-facto nar­rat­ive about the man who changed the face of music forever, fought for civil rights and social justice world­wide and took the time-out to ment­or a street kid from Liv­er­pool, some 5,000 miles from where he came from.

By way of thanks and to fur­ther Gil’s leg­acy, Malik decided at the Har­lem Funer­al Home where Gil was laid to rest, that he would stop at noth­ing to pay homage to the man who saved his and so many oth­er lives.

Q. As prob­ably the only man or per­haps one of the few to have been under the dir­ect tutel­age of Gil Scott Her­on; do you feel that there is some degree of pres­sure to carry on his leg­acy? 

Hav­ing been under the dir­ect tutel­age of Gil Scott Her­on and also his ment­ors’ The Last Poets, I feel a huge burden of respons­ib­il­ity to carry on that leg­acy. I have a unique insight into what that leg­acy is and means because they explained it to me over the last three dec­ades in detail. Work­ing with these guys was not a job, it was an edu­ca­tion. They took me on to train me so that I would under­stand fully what the whole Black Arts Move­ment was about and it’s con­text – the wider Black Civil Rights Struggle. So when you’re act­ing as a road­ie or tour man­ager for Gil Scott Her­on, or a man­ager for Jalal of The Last Poets, you are actu­ally ‘in school’. The job is the prac­tic­al side of what you do but the real reas­on is the edu­ca­tion. These guys were part of that civil rights struggle – post Mal­colm and Mar­tin – and to under­stand them, you have to under­stand that. Gil first encour­aged me to learn to read, then intro­duced me to the authors of The Har­lem Renais­sance. He taught me Black his­tory and Black Pride (Some­thing I had not at that stage encountered in 1970’s UK).

That laid the found­a­tion. I also stud­ied their works. I was uniquely able to cross ref­er­ence song lyr­ics with what was behind them, from the Water­gate scan­dal to the Viet­nam war, from Har­lem street life to the ori­gin­al Jail toasts that pre­cluded rap. From the polit­ics of Black Amer­ica to the reli­gion of Islam. I stud­ied it all from 1984 to date.

The real leg­acy of these guys are in those things, not the non­sense of bling and the objec­ti­fic­a­tion of women or the glor­i­fic­a­tion of crime and street life, that’s the mis-dir­ec­tion that the com­mer­cial music industry pushed and that’s how Hip-Hop lost it’s way. I’m not a rap­per, I’m a poet with a polit­ic­al edge and that’s what these guys were. I’m tak­ing it back to the roots and I my debut album “Rhythms of the Dia­spora Vol’s 1 & 2 drops on 1st Aug 2015 fea­tur­ing LL-Cool J, Gil Scott-Her­on and The Last Poets.

Q. Without spoil­ing any­thing, what has Malik and the O.G’s got in store for us at The Revolu­tion Will be Live?

The Revolu­tion Will Be Live at St. Georges Hall in Liv­er­pool on 27th Aug 2015 and will be broad­cast shortly after­wards on BBC Radio 6 Music as a Craig Char­les “CC Funk & Soul Spe­cial.” I will be per­form­ing with my band which com­prises also mem­bers of Gil’s band and we’ll be show­cas­ing some of my album and some of my new rep­er­toire (Next album stuff) we’ll have a full line-up. It’s part of Liv­er­pool Inter­na­tion­al Music Fest­ival 2015 and myself and Richard McGin­nis (Chibuku) have formed our own pro­duc­tion Co. “Yes­ternight Pro­duc­tions Ltd” to deliv­er the show on behalf of LIMF 2015. Talib Kweli heads the bill along with Aswad, The Chris­ti­ans and Craig Charlse DJ set and Sophia Ben Yousef.

Q. Hav­ing someone like Talib Kweli appear is a big deal, allegedly Kanye West was also asked to appear at the trib­ute show, can you elab­or­ate on this?

Kanye sang at Gil’s funer­al and I asked him to help out by per­form­ing at the trib­ute I was plan­ning and he agreed – that was back in 2011. I didn’t pull it off so that offer lapsed. But we’re more than happy to accom­mod­ate him if he stops by.

Hav­ing met and had the priv­ilege to work with so many of the found­ing fath­ers of hip hop, what do you think about the dir­ec­tion it’s head­ing in at the moment? Do you listen to any of the lead­ers of the new skool?

It’s re-cal­ib­rat­ing itself, I listen to Low Key and Immor­tal Tech­nique and well as Has­san Salam, Yasi­in Bey Com­mon and Talib of course and oth­ers who are fur­ther­ing know­ledge.

Q. Spoken word has been back in the main­stream thanks to the bril­liant George the Poet, why do you think we aren’t see­ing more spoken word artists?

Pro­mo­tors have not caught onto iit’s poten­tial. If Alan Douglas (Last Poets pro­du­cer) and Bob Theil (Fly­ing Dutch­man) and Clive Dav­ies (Arista records) had thought like record Co execs today about Gil Scott Her­on and the Last Poets – Rap would nev­er have happened. They need to wake up!

I think Ali­en (hold on to your dreams) is one of Gil Scott’s many time­less songs which still has so much rel­ev­ance today. As many young­er read­ers by not be too famil­i­ar with his work, apart from the obvi­ous ones what Gil Scott song do you think every­one should hear? And why?

Every­one should listen to Gil’s ver­sion of Inner City Blues and the story of Mark Essex.

Q. I read a Chinese pro­verb once that said for a man to lead a full life he should write a book, plant a tree and have a son. I know you’ve writ­ten a book but what about the oth­er two? What else do you have in the pipeline?

I wro­te a book of Poetry – Ordin­ary Guy in 1984 and I’m work­ing on my mem­oire, I planted an apple tree last year and I have three son’s so I guess I’m good in China? Peace.

To find out more about ‘The Revolu­tion Will Be Live’ @ LIMF Click here. 

The Revolu­tion Will Be Live Event — Twit­ter: @yesternightltd
The Revolu­tion Will Be Live Event — tick­et link: http://www.ticketarena.co.uk/events/The-Revolution-w/
Malik & The O.G’s – Face­book:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Malik-The-OGs/171722166201820

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Seth Pereira

Seth Pereira

A bud­ding music Journ­al­ist spe­cial­iz­ing in all things hip hop. Who Occa­sion­ally dabbles in polit­ic­al ram­bling.

About Seth Pereira

Seth Pereira
A budding music Journalist specializing in all things hip hop. Who Occasionally dabbles in political rambling.

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