Paris On #BlackLivesMatter: “If We’re Not Forceful Nobody Pays Attention”

By Jerry Barrow, WatchLOUD

It’s been almost 25 years since San Franciso born rap rebel Paris was banned from TV. His debut album, The Devil Made Me Do It, was an incendiary takedown of the American government that was right in step with the hip-hop songs of the time. However, lyrics like “Skinheads end up dead cause I don’t play/ Brothers swarm under the form of Scarface...” from the first single “Break The Grip of Shame” had MTV censors shaking in their homemade Hammer pants and he was stripped from rotation on the network.

In more than two decades since then, Paris has maintained a steadfast dedication to social justice and creating music that reflects his political views.

This year has released Pistol Politics, a double album featuring kindred spirits like dead prez, Chuck D and Kam on his own Guerrilla Funk label. In a climate of heightened awareness surrounding racial injustice in America, Paris feels this is a time for a musical reality check.

“For many people they’re disgusted,” he tells WatchLOUD. “They’re tired of black-on-black crime, they’re tired of blue-on-black crime, lack of economic opportunity... and hip-hop used to be a vehicle that would address these issues in a way that was enlightening for an entire subsection of the population. When I first came up there were all these groups like Public Enemy, KRS-One, and X-Clan. All these different groups existed to make you feel good about yourself. And that’s been missing for a while. This is my way of striking back.”

Paris doesn’t reserve his judgments for the police and the government. He is equally concerned with how his own people deal with their issues internally.

“I’m on my sixth funeral,” he says flatly. “Everybody that I know at least knows somebody that’s been touched by violence in our community. And more often than not it’s not at the hands of the police. But that’s not giving them a pass. A lot of times conservatives like to say ‘Well what do Black lives really matter if you’re killing yourselves?’ That’s apples and oranges. We have our own set of problems, but that doesn’t let you off the hook for the bullshit that you’re doing.”

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