M-1: New Year Revolution
Tell me about this solo project that you have coming out.
Its my first solo album, its called Confidential, and the whole angle around it is the fact that theres this world thats been created around the secrecy and privacy of what human beings are doing. Some of us they call radical, but the reality is that we all have the potential to take the power and control over our own lives. Confidential is a look in, from the outside, almost from like an FBI point of view, at the life of someone like me. At the bottom of it all, you find its just a regular human being. But we are the ones who are being spied on and whose rights are being taken away. It boils down to a political statement about what is so secret and why the government moves the way it does.
Its crazy because these FBI files really do exist.
Theres a book called, Black Americans: The FBI Files [By: Kenneth OReilly.] Everyone from W.E.B. Du Bois to Paul Robeson to Malcolm X to Langston Hughes has an FBI file thats deep. As deep as: who theyre having sex with, what they said at a public rally, what they ate for dinnerthings that you wouldnt even think that you would know. I learned more about these people by looking at the FBI files than I did through their autobiographies. So I thought [the concept] is a great way to get to know M-1 through those eyes and particularly for those who didnt know that this is happening its happening to you, not just me.
How do you feel about the current political climate in this country, as well as the world?
M-1 is an international person, a man without borders. The physical borders that bind people I think have a lot to do with the politics that restrict us. Whats going on in the world has everything to do with whats going on elsewhere. The US is in a very unstable place: economically, socially and in the government. Theres crisis all over. But its the illusion that everything is o.k. And I can tell you this because I visit Europe, South America outside these borders all the time. I know the perception and I also know the value of the dollar. Whats going on inside America is a fight for the truth, the fight for information. And I think ultimately its a diversion. If we really pay attention to whats happening, not only with the leadership of this country, but why people arent moving in a different way, then youll see an emergency - a red alert. But people arent in red alert mode It didnt take Hurricane Katrina for me to say that George Bush dont like black people. Or for a lot of people it didnt, for that matter. But Im glad that the hurricane has been able to open a lot of peoples eyes. I knew that there would be a crisis like that and that we would have to deal with it. That is the state of America, and the state of our community. Im not a quote-unquote activist. I dont go door to door with leaflets; I dont hold rallies or meetings. I do show up at them from time to time, and I support those programs. And I damn sure fight for my rights. But I kind of participate from this place the place of an artist who recognizes that our culture is a weapon.
Being labeled a conscious artist in a lot of ways seems like a double-edged sword. Interviewing Common, he was saying how a lot people dont give any leeway to those artists because theres this bar that has been raised where you cant even be human anymore. How do you feel about that?
The pressure comes if youre trying to be that. And I never have been trying to be that. Ive only been trying to reach the goals and objectives that I think are important to my community and my people. I think people easily do things like labeling just for stereotypes. If I did call myself a revolutionaryI have sex, I smoke weed, I drink beer and alcohol, I love to have fun and be on a Caribbean Island more than I like to be in my hood. Talking to people like Assata Shakur, who is exiled in Cuba, she calls herself a reluctant revolutionary. Because we dont really want to do this. None of us want the drama. Its just what has to happen. I want to live better I have to live better. So the whole idea of being conscious I fight the idea, I fight the label all the time. It puts this box around us. Most people say Martin Luther King was conscious. He was. Martin Luther King drank, had orgies with womenIm saying that were real people. And as quiet as its kept, Im not any more revolutionary than you are. Sometimes people prove me wrong. Sometimes people say and do things that I believe are against their own good. And I think its because theyve been bought. Kind of like what 50 Cent said in GQ magazine about his admiration for George Bush, who I know is a terrorist and a criminal. With that being said, I like 50 Cent, but I think that was the stupidest thing he ever said in his entire life. Most people dont understand that were under the gun and we dont want to be that way. Now, what were willing to do and what statements were willing to make, is different. Some, like Master P, will make it seem like its all good, but will donate a million dollars to a great cause or put up a community center. It lets me know that he has a heart beat. You dont have to be wearing the revolution on your sleeve. My album lets you see me as a whole person, whereas maybe with Dead Prez, you assume that were these strict ass vegans that dont even have sex. I go through that all the time, from city to city. Ive had internet articles written about that, just because its some sort of contradiction for me to love women. And I dont take advantage of thembut because I enjoy women, Im some sort of hypocrite? Thats crazy.
How do you feel about the state of hip hop these days?
Theres two sides, its always been that way. Music belongs to the people that make it and the people who want to hear it. The problem is that there are people who want to make money from it. And they stand in the way of both of these people. Our music is a reflection of our political maturity, no matter what you say. I dont give a fuck if its Laffy Taffy or Diamonds from Sierra Leone, its still a reflection of what we are thinking, who we are and what were gonna practice. Ill take that home to my daughter and raise her correctly thats not a problem. The problem is the exploitation in the music. When we arent able to dictate what we really wanna hear and what we dont want to hear. Were bombarded with it through these propaganda and promotional mechanisms on TV and radio, and we really start to not think for ourselves. And there in you have the problem with the state of hip hop music. Some people would do anything to get into that position, and I think that level of prostitution is criminal. And itll keep going till we stop itliterally companies are paying artists to sell products through hip hop music. Thats what its become. And here we are, we love em. These are our favorite songs. They have videos, and they get Grammys for this. And I think thats criminalPop-Tarts, Playtex you cant get nothing without having hip hop attached to it.
People think its so cool being in the music industry, and would do anything to get involved in it. What do you tell these kids that want to get put on so badly?
Dont get used! They use you for your energy; suck you dry for your ideas and then 10 years later youre just figuring it out. You come out the other side, dizzy, trying to find your bearings and youve been had. Youve been bamboozled. So you have to use the system. The correct words are: Pimp the systemTrying to get into this industry, get next to these people who aint worth getting next to. Personalities are less than admirable who do things that you wouldnt even want to do, or be associated withLook at Puffy and The Lox. I was listening to Hot 97, and the guys were arguing about their contract. Theyve been away from Puffy for 11 years but he owns their publishing, they cant even do an album theyre retiring as The Lox. My point being, this guy Puffy sits back, and hes created the most oppressive kind of contract in the world, where grown men cant even do their own work and have a career. He has his foot on the neck of these artists, who a lot of people admire, but have no idea how exploitive this man is being over themeven his man Biggie Smalls, he owns his publishing too. What kind of person is this and why do we love him? Do I want a friend who would do me like that? No. I dont want anyone like that around me. But we revere Puffy for his business and his tenacity. Thats bullshit. Its bullshit where hes going, and what hes done, and I dont applaud it. True that those guys did sign a contract, and knew what they were signing. But those laws, of nature and the world, are not equal. Just cause that contract said its fair, dont mean it is. This is not fair - I dont care if their names are on this linehes the bottom of the barrel, yet people love him and everybody wants to be that. I think that should be a lesson of what not to be. Its crazy, and I dont want my daughter to come up in that Raising a daughter has brought a whole new perspective on life. It made me do things that I wouldnt do. It made me do this record. I really had to just sit back and review what my life has been, and where I want it to be. I dont want to be in this country in five to eight years.