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Paris: Here For November

By Yaminah Ahmad,

Never one to hold his tongue on issues like politricks, violence, and poverty in the Black community, it is no surprise veteran, revolutionary rap commander Paris is sounding off on this historic 2008 Presidential Election.

The Bay-area rabble-rouser just released his latest 'get free' effort, entitled, Acid Reflex. on his indie label, Guerilla Funk Recordings. According to Paris, not only does the single, "Don't Stop the Movement," but the entire album serves as the soundtrack documenting this moment of change and transformation in the country.

AllHipHop caught Paris in mid-grind to get a quick course in politics and Hip-Hop for those in need of a cheat sheet before hitting the voting polls this Tuesday.

On the economic crisis and the absence of poor people from the conversation.

"I think a lot of times when those conversations are taking place people assume poor people don't have anything anyway. They're not on anybody's radar. They're not homeowners. Nobody seems to care about renters. Poor people not applying for credit because they can't get it so it's like their vote is never taken seriously because oftentimes the assumption is that those voters are uneducated or not able to provide direction one way or another anyway. And, of course, politicians respond to money. Politicians respond to donors. Politicians respond to that which they think will be beneficial to their future.

"A lot of what is enticing to people about Barack Obama is how his campaign is funded. It's more of a grassroots approach. In reality, he's young, he's vibrant, he's handsome, he's Black, he's so completely different from what we're used to and he's different from what we equate to a politician, so people are energized."

On the bailout being corporate welfare, the government being gangsters and Obama being Elliot Ness.

"[The bailout] is corporate welfare. We're seeing institutions buying each other and instead of using the money to help lenders we're seeing it used to better position themselves in the corporate landscape. The money is already not being used for what it is intended for. It's gonna be a bloodbath. Eight years of Republican rule, Republican congressional rule, it's amazing to me to hear the GOP talk about they want limited government when they spent a trillion dollars on an illegal war and have proven time and time again to be fiscally irresponsible.

"All of the problems that exist in America right now are the direct result of war profiteering, cronyism, no-bid contracts, a reduction of expenditures on social programs and government deregulation...The government is gangsters. It's set up for a select group of individuals to be able to benefit at the expense of everybody else, and by definition, that's what a gangster is... [Obama as Elliot Ness] It's possible. It depends on who he surrounds himself with. We won't really know until he gets in. He's not gonna say anything that's going to be contrary to what the status quo is right now. He can't start talking about looking out for us before he gets in office. You know that."

On protest music in Hip-Hop and music's influence on the community.

"I know that in entertainment, especially in Hip-Hop, protest music is not heard at all. I know it's definitely not heard on a mass commercial level. And I know when I first started in music back in the early 90s, Hip-Hop had an entirely different sensibility. I came out in what people considered to be the golden era of Hip-Hop when it was me, Public Enemy, X Clan, Queen Latifah, BDP, early Ice Cube, that wave of Afrocentricity back then. That no longer exists... so me coming to the table talking about current events, talking about the social conditions that exist within our community, that's nothing new.

"But a lot of people [are] disillusioned with what's going on even though the people are talking about Obama, oftentimes, they feel like politics never speak to them, no matter who it is. A lot of people feel that way, a lot of people feel as though participating doesn't make that really big of a difference and I see where they're coming from, especially when you've been beaten down repeatedly over the years... But I know the power that music has and I know the influence that musicians have over young people because it speaks to us the way that teachers and politicians and a lot of times our parents don't.

"I always say many teenagers know the words to a lot of these songs that are out - they know them verbatim. They spit the lyrics to anything because entertainment speaks to them. When entertainment is laced with messages that are positive it has a positive effect. When entertainment is laced with negative messages then it has a negative effect. That's just the cold hard reality..."

On foreign relations and Hip-Hop.

"I was looking at a story the other day about a store in Africa. The name of the store was called the N*****s store and a black African ran it and it sold Hip-Hop paraphernalia. So connect the dots and understand why they call it that and why they choose to identify with that word that way and choose to identify themselves that way. That's a prime example [of] the negativity Hip-Hop can have. You gotta black African in an area with all Black people and still identify with that word. That's hard to take."

On the candidates mending relationships around the world.

"With McCain, there's nothing I can really tell him. He's already on the trajectory of continuing the agenda of the previous eight years. With regard to Obama, there's nowhere else to go but up. We're ridiculed on the world stage. We're hated by all other countries that are not our allies. We're known for having a legacy of brutality and violence that more often than not with people of color. It's worthy to note that America [hasn't] made arms to war with a white country but once since WWII. Every other country we've fought from Panama, Grenada, to Iraq to Nicaragua, to El Salvador to Mozambique, [are people of color], so you look at that legacy of violence and it's no wonder why we're hated by the world."

On advising the President of issues to address Day One in office.

"Well, definitely step up the focus of education in our community. That is the great equalizer. And that is the one thing that I know that can improve everybody's condition. A lot of times especially young people get caught up on entertainment, thinking that rapping or playing ball can improve their condition and get them out of the hood, whatever.

"The one thing a lot of people can do is get an education. One thing everybody can participate in is improving themselves. So the first thing I'll tell Barack is to step up the focus on it. Education is one thing that's needed. Another is some kind of program funded to initiated violence prevention... We know the violence is out of control. We can take any Black neighborhood and the story is always the same-it's impoverishment, lack of economic opportunity, disenfranchisement, poor schools, it's always a lack of unity. So education, violence prevention, and job training."

Need money for school and/or housing expenses? There are three tickets, each worth $10K, randomly placed in Paris' new CD, Acid Reflex. For more information about Paris, log onto

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