By Scott Thill, Wired.com
Over four decades ago today, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale created the Black Panthers in Oakland, in turn influencing everything from The Go! Team to Marvel Comics. But Oakland's native son Paris has probably built the most upon the Panther legacy, adding another brick with his recently released eighth effort Acid Reflex, out October 28 from his indie label Guerrilla Funk.
The timing feels right. McCain and Palin are dropping Weather Underground bombs. GOP sites are openly calling for the waterboarding of Barack Obama. Meet the new militants, same as the old militants.
But Paris is in good company, including Public Enemy's Chuck D, Parliament-Funkadelic's George Clinton and Los Angeles production house Buildestroy, which created the vertiginous video for "Don't Stop the Movement," viewable above. Using a kinetic range of effects and tropes to skewer MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News, director Cory Shaw has crafted a phantasmagoric reel that rivals the 1984 theatrics of Coldcut's video for "Everything is Under Control."
Listening Post chatted with the hip-hop legend about Guerrilla Funk, the housing meltdown and why he's hiding $10,000 worth of scholarship money in three copies of Acid Reflex. Nice to see someone has a plan for our economic crisis.
Wired.com: Killer video. It packs a lot of information into a few, short minutes.
Paris: Thanks for the compliment. The video was intended to critique the media, the current political climate in America, endless wars and the corporate homogenization of black music. But the effects are what sets it apart from many other videos, in my opinion. They were exceptionally rendered by my folks over at Buildestroy. The director Cory Shaw is a beast.
Wired.com: So tell me about your clever scholarship drive. You're putting your own money on the line.
Paris: It is basically a Golden Ticket kind of contest, as well as a way to give back to my supporters, those who have looked out for me my entire career. Acid Reflex will have tickets placed in three CDs redeemable for $10,000 towards either higher education or housing expenses.
Wired.com: Have you considered working for the Federal Reserve Bank or maybe the U.S. Treasury? Sounds like you might be able to help out with the housing crisis.
Paris: For homeowners, I think the blame goes both ways. Of course, predatory lenders have taken advantage of them. But it is also on individuals to be up on the circumstances surrounding their situations. As usual, knowledge is power. But I do think that the bailout package should provide relief, at least in part, to those who have been the victims of these practices on a case-by-case basis. Something needed to be done though; the economy cannot thrive without credit.
Wired.com: The election is heating up. Joe Scarborough went on The Colbert Report and explained that it wasn't the war that sank the GOP, it was Katrina.
Paris: What sank them is not only Katrina, but an overall lack of responsiveness to the needs of average people. The GOP has been the party of the "Angry Rich White Male" for too long -- always at the expense of others. The chickens really came home to roost on their excesses -- war spending and profiteering -- and that's why the economy is in the condition that it's in now. Add to that high gas prices, poor education, a reduction in funding for social programs, and an out-of-touch emphasis on what many have deemed the culture war, such as gay marriage or immigration, and one can see why they're losing pitifully.
Wired.com: Talk about working with Clinton and Chuck. They're old-schoolers like you, who haven't changed their game even as the game has changed around them.
Paris: Working with Chuck and George was just like coming full circle. I came upon music made by both of them. It was an honor to have their involvement in my project. As far as maintaining focus, that's never a problem for me. I view what I do as giving a voice to those who may feel they aren't being heard. Guerrilla Funk's goal is to provide balance in an environment that keeps art artificially young and dumb.