By Bro. Tony Muhammad, UAN
In the midst of a war on "terror," a largely undefined term by President George W. Bush, however, according to Webster's Dictionary, it has to do first with a mental state or attitude, there are an increasing amount of entertainers, including Hip Hop artists, who are voicing their mental attitudes about current more stringent and war-oriented government policies in post 9-11 America. Among the ones most branded controversial is Paris.
Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, he gained national exposure in 1990 with his hit single The Devil Made Me Do It and album by the same name. Backed up with a mixture of Black Panther and Nation of Islam philosophical world views, he gained much interest and support from the Hip Hop community of that time as it had a much more politically and socially conscious outlook at that time. Yet and still, his fan support did not protect him from running into conflicts with the actual production of his music.
When his second album Sleeping With The Enemy was ready to be released, now-defunct Tommy Boy and distributor Time Warner terminated his contract upon learning of its inflammatory lyrics against now ex-president George Bush and racist police officers. Even though he found himself releasing it on the newly-formed independent label Scarface Records, the album received much notoriety and sales.
In 1993, he signed to a major deal with Priority Records and released Guerilla Funk, but was soon dropped due to creative differences in 1995. He released yet another album in 1997, Unleashed, under the now-defunct Whirling Records, which dealt heavily with a criticism of the direction Hip Hop was headed. It did not receive much notice due to its low production and sales numbers.
Paris went into hiding for several years, but still writing and recording music on the side. In 2002, Paris’ long-time friend and Hip Hop pioneer, Davey D ventured on a project in making much of Paris’ unreleased music available via his web site www.daveyd.com. Thus far, there has been a strong response by the internet surfing Hip Hop community. Also, Paris bred much excitement when he made a guest appearance on Public Enemy's most recent album Revolverlution in the remix to Gotta Give The Peeps What They Need.
Now in 2003, with the experience of five world tours, countless national performances, and a more developed political thought responding to the current constricting political climate of this country, Paris has formed an internet site network which exposes much of the farces of "The War on Terror" and is set to release his fifth album, Sonic Jihad. In a UAN exclusive, here is what Paris had to say in response to some of our questions.
UAN: What has Paris been up to since the Hip Hop community last saw him in a more popular light in the early 90s?
PARIS: I’ve been involved in real estate and investment banking. I never really left Hip Hop though, just watched it make a fool of itself...
UAN: I am aware of your new album, Sonic Jihad. Basically, what can you say the album as a whole is about?
PARIS: The message of the entire album is not specific to Bush-related issues, in spite of what most people think about the cover. It's a commentary on the state of many things - the current climate of manufactured fear and "War on Terror," fighting the pro-war propaganda that we’re assaulted with daily, police brutality and the embarrassing state that hip hop is in right now.
UAN: When is it planned to be released?
PARIS: I’m looking to release it in May if I don't face any more obstacles with its manufacture.
UAN: Many have considered your work to be controversial, both the lyrics in your songs and images displayed on your albums. I even read on daveyd.com that one particular image in the Sleeping With The Enemy album of ex-president George Bush walking towards yourself holding a gun led to conflicts with the record label you were on at the time and awarded you a visit from the Feds. Can you give us a little insight as to what happened in these particular cases, as well as discuss other memorable experiences (if you will) concerning "controversial" statements you have made?
PARIS: I don't really talk about that because I don't want it to appear that I’m celebrating the experience. Yes, the label did have issues, and no, the Feds weren't happy. It's the same situation nowadays but to the ninth power. I’ve already gotten more of a backlash from the Sonic Jihad project before it's release than the entire Sleeping With The Enemy project's run.
UAN: In short, why do you believe Paris' highly political expression is needed today in Hip Hop?
PARIS: Because there's no balance in hip-hop now. Even though there is a hand full of artists making positive statements, the overwhelming majority of what's allowed by labels to be presented to the public is negative. For every Common, there are 50 gangsta/playa wannabe groups. And it's not what the street dictates, as labels claim, because the street doesn't know what it wants. The street responds to what it's presented. It's simply a corporate effort to inundate our communities with bullsh__ messages for profit.
UAN: In your opinion, what is needed to change not only in Hip Hop but in the music industry as a whole? If things continue the way they are in respects to the music industry, what do you believe will be the results?
PARIS: We are already seeing the results - lower profits for the industry and no respect for the artists. The public is going to respond to music the way music treats the public. If music is looked at by "artists" as little more than hitting a lick for financial gain, then the music and the listeners suffer. Now the audience is rebelling.
UAN: What are your views concerning the current "War on Terror" and the mental state of the American people?
PARIS: The War On Terror is a sham. It's the greatest hustle in the history of this country. The selling of fear, the endless terror alerts, the unjust wars, the staged 9-11 tragedy - all pre-agreed upon and put into effect for the benefit of a select few. It's too deep to go into here, but if you want an in-depth perspective that pulls no punches, visit and subscribe to my site at www.guerrillafunk.com.
UAN: What do you believe is needed to alert the American people to the truth? By what means would it be possible?
PARIS: The widespread dissemination of information is needed, ASAP. That's a part of the reason why I’ve structured Guerrillafunk.com the way that I did - to give the audience information other than that which is presented to us day in and day out in the media.
UAN: Would you consider the expression of your music as well as that of other conscious entertainers as being one of the most important means to get across a crucial message? If so, how?
PARIS: Definitely, because music is extremely influential. Kids often know the words to songs but can't get their homework right. And since our country is one which celebrates style over substance, we see entertainers elevated to a higher status socially than they probably should be. This status gives added credence to the words of artists to many people. Since this is the case, I don't waste time with the message.
UAN: Any inspiring words?
PARIS: Embrace independent thought and look beyond the surface of what you’re given as information every day. Become internet savvy and learn the truth about what's really going on around you. If you get all of your info from TV and the newspaper then you’re ill-informed. If you need assistance in finding alternate sources of information, then please visit me at www.guerrillafunk.com.
UAN: Thank you.