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Hip Hop Gives Back

By Charlene Muhammad,

Imagine being a father fighting foreclosure and trying to keep your family off the streets, a single mother trying to keep a roof over your children's heads, or a college-bound youth with no funds for tuition or books in sight. You spend a fraction of your income to buy some music to cheer yourself up and when you look inside, there's a golden ticket announcing that you've just won a $10,000 award redeemable towards any kind of post-high school education or for housing expenses.

Don't throw that ticket away. It will be the reality for three online or in-store purchasers of San Francisco Bay Area rapper Paris' new CD, "Acid Reflex." The artist and activist put up his own money for the $30,000 effort.

"This is from me because it's a perfect way for me to give back to people who have been following my career since its inception and it's a perfect way to underscore my commitment to education and help people, especially in these hard economic times," said Paris, who graduated from the University of California at Davis with a degree in economics.

The album was released through Paris' independent company, Guerilla Funk Recordings ( and Fontana Universal, and it holds nothing back on topics like police brutality, Black on Black violence and illegal and immoral wars. "Acid Reflex" was released on Oct. 29, but no one had pulled a winning ticket as of press time.

"Guerilla Funk and really my entire career, I've always stressed the importance of giving back and this is a way to show and prove," the artist said. When he dropped his second album, "Sleeping With the Enemy," in 1992, he offered $10,000 to then prizewinner Erica Butler. "It was actually an essay contest about the importance of Black colleges that participants had to partake in. The essays were reviewed and the prize was awarded at my first record label, Scarface Records. His album also features the lead single, "Don't Stop the Movement," which is an up-tempo anthem for the times. It underscores the project's political and spiritual commentary. It includes the voices of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, veteran rapper/artist Chuck D of Public Enemy, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee George Clinton and Paris-protégé T-K.A.S.H.

But his favorite song on the album is "True" (Track 8) because it's very 'hood-centric and hits the community where it lives, Paris said. "It talks about better times in our community and getting back to the free breakfast programs, OG's monitoring the 'hood and making sure that everything is cool, and self-policing and self-empowerment."

The 20-year hip hop music veteran said he came into consciousness under Min. Farrakhan after hearing the world leader speak at the Kaiser Convention Center in the 1980s. "That was really the catalyst to make me want to know more about myself and it made me realize how much information I didn't know about the Black experience and I began doing a lot of independent reading and research. … I definitely realize that the Nation is a force," Paris said.) and on Acid Reflex, a ballad about the mother of a slain US-Iraq War trooper who goes to shoot her congressman at his home. You can't not react to the intensity, even the sheer outrageousness, of a Paris record. For that, he's pure rock ‘n' roll. And this album, while not as musically rich as his previous, superb Sonic Jihad, is well-layered with noise-scapes harkening back to PE's Fear of a Black Planet, basslines erupting from hell ("The Trap") and a funked-up sample-track featuring the uncensored Reverend Jeremiah Wright at his rhetorical best ("The Violence of the Lambs"). Chuck D's excellent guest voice on "Winter in America," a titular homage to Gil Scott Heron, is typical of Paris's political, cultural and artistic sophistication.

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