Artist Who Reflects Times

An interview with one of our favorite hip-hop artists, an activist who truly cares about the Black community, Jasiri X.

Jun. 02,2016


Jasiri X is not a usual artist, his music reflects his ideas and his social position. He has his finger on the pulse of today’s social justice issues: racism, police brutality, bigotry, segregation, and an inability of authorities to do something. Everything is in his music. We wish we had more activists and real leaders like Jasiri X. 

Watch more music videos by Jasiri X here
Hello, Jasiri X! Your work is truly amazing! We appreciate what you do for American Black community! Could you tell us your experiences with police brutality and racism?
Jasiri X
I’ve never been physically brutalized by police but of course as a black man, I have been harassed, pulled over, by a police. Ten years ago in 2006, we started an organization in Pittsburg called “One Hood.” At that time, Pennsylvania led the nation when it comes to “Black Violence”. With poverty comes violence in our community. We have locally organized the youth to help fight acts of brutality and racism and we deal with cases of police brutality in Pittsburg. The first one was a policeman that pulled a gun on a 6-year-old girl and threatened to blow her brains out. We also worked on a case of a young man, Jordan Miles, in Pittsburg who was beaten by the police so badly that his own mother couldn’t recognize him. He didn’t do anything wrong. And the most recent case in Pittsburg is Lean Ford who was pulled over for no reason and was shot 5 times by Pittsburg police and once again didn’t do anything to call for such action. Thankfully, he lived even though now, he lives in the wheelchair.
I heard a lot about “One Hood”, the organization is a real help to Black Pittsburg community. What motivated you to create this organization? And what motivates you to create such a deep lyrics for your songs?
Jasiri X
Well, as a young artist, when I started, I didn’t see a mainstream hip-hop artist speaking to these issues. But I felt passionate about the cases like Micheal Brown’s and I said if these mainstream artists won’t do anything about it, I’ll say something, I’ll do something about it. So, that was how I got involved in making music the way I make it.
Some people refer to you as “new Angela Davis.” Do you agree with this name? Why do you think they call you that.
Jasiri X
I will not want to diminish the legacy of those who have gone ahead of us. I’m inspired by Angela Davis, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X. I would thank them for the influence, for setting a great example. But I don’t want to be “The New Someone”. You know, Angela Davis is still alive and I met her and she said kind words about me. You know, I am here to help get justice for the community. Because I want to see the wrongs righted. am angry about the injustice system that we have here in America. Basically, they’re telling us that Black Lives don’t matter, when they allow somebody to kill us and go free and to escape justice like George Zimmerman has.
After the shooting during T.I. concert NYPD commissioner Bratton said “The crazy world of these so-called rap artists who are basically thugs, that basically celebrate violence they did all their lives.” What is your opinion about these words?
Jasiri X
Well, I think that if anybody wants to see thugs that celebrate violence, you just simply have to look at the NYPD. It was members of the NYPD that were holding up signs after Eric Garner was killed that “I can believe”. Look at the history of police brutality in NYC. So he wants thugs who celebrate violence, he should look at the officers that he represents. They carry themselves like gangs and thugs that do violence. Just recently, there was one of our brothers who was arrested and thrown around and disrespected. The biggest thugs in New York City is the NYPD.
Racism in higher education is the theme that inspires you. You often visit campuses. What is the situation in Colleges and Universities nowadays? Do you see Black students fighting back against racism?
Jasiri X
Well, I am inspired by the different types of movements that I have arisen on campuses to help fight racism and injustice. I go to the universities as a speaker and I use such opportunities to lift up those activists on those campuses that are doing the work. Especially I am inspired by what young people did at the University of Missouri: got the footballers involved and were able to get the Chancellor and President fired because of the activism that they did on that campus. On other campuses, you have movements too that take names off of buildings in places like Clemson and Harvard University. So I’m inspired by what I see when I go to different campuses. Seeing activism happening and students not just taking these racist acts lame at all and having to organize and pushing back. Recently in march, we had students from San Francisco State University that were on a hunger strike because of the university’s attempt to exterminate the Ethnic Studies program. I salute them! I strive to do what I can to help.
Are the authorities of these colleges doing their best to protect the students of color?
Jasiri X
Of course not, I think that often universities become a hostile environment for Black people. Because often when Black students get on campuses, people have this notion that they are there because of forms of action and when they begin to speak out they are marginalized. For example in several Universities, women of color were sexually assaulted and after reporting the incidents, the authorities remained silent about it. And often, that’s the case that these Presidents and leaders who are in charge are just being quiet about racism and issues like that. When I went to the University of Missouri after the activism that took place there, one of the complaints that some of the people had was all the money that the University lost and the drop in the rate of Black student admission. But whose fault is that? It’s not the fault of the activists that they are trying to get justice. That’s the fault of the university that allows racist acts to take place and doesn’t do anything about it.
Finally, what is your message to our readers?
Jasiri X
One would say two things: first of all, we are the ones we have been waiting for. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, they were great leaders but they are gone. We can’t wait for some leader to come and then take us somewhere. If you see something wrong in your community, or if you get mad at something and you feel action needs to be done, take it! I have a responsibility to the place that I live, so no matter where I go, I come back to see how things are going. Secondly, the talking is over and it is time for us to take action! So don’t look down upon yourself, go and start something in your community where you live.

Artist Who Reflects Times
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