By Marielle V. Turner, Slamjamz.com
This gentleman is most impressive in the game of life - period. He entered the music industry as a solo artist and has maintained that pose. Paris is a great lover of music and fortunately does not rely on the music industry as his only source of income so he can enjoy being an artist. This gives him the power of poetic license that most are not privileged to use, having to please major record labels to sell records and get their message across — if they have one. As he receives accolades from the grassroots community, Paris is genuinely distinguished on the underground tip.
You should make a point of visiting his website at www.guerrillafunk.com. You will feel his lyrical style and catch the torrent of knowledge he spits about current events since you can listen to a few cuts and see a couple of videos. Paris also gives sound financial advice. His well-fed intellect is overtly passionate, evident in the strength of his verbal expression. You can purchase prior releases of his music as well as the current "Sonic Jihad" at this site. Make sure you read the Guerrilla Funk Manifesto that makes plain Paris’ mission statement as only he could. Thus, you should visit and click on all the links yourself. His site, as well as his CD, are so professionally done, I would have sworn he had major label funding. However, this brother is radically independent. He can work a dollar.
I’ve made a point, as you should, of subscribing to the Guerrilla Funk newsletter, and in doing so, will look to Paris as one of the greatest leaders to watch for those who want to work their thing on their own as he does. I would like to speak with him for investment advice to make the most of my economic situation. And maybe he can help find me my dream home when I’m ready.
I feel honored to have made his acquaintance on the telephone but I have yet to meet him. With anticipation, I’m praying I’ll be blessed to see his performance when he hits the New York tri-state area during his current tour and maybe I’ll get a couple of backstage passes for me and my homegirl — hint, hint. And Paris is rather easy on the eyes as you can see in the photos on his site. However, I’m cured of Scorpios even if he was single. The object of his affection has gotta be happy to have a sexy guy with a profoundly focused mindset in her corner. Nevertheless, I am glad I spoke with him and look forward to being known as one of his friends one of these days.
It is so serious. Paris has touched many people so far in need of hearing someone motivate them to greatness. That is, his message is for those interested in helping the world community achieve greatness while seeing the reality of things. I wanna help him hit more folks so this discussion is my minor contribution to this effort for now. I encourage everyone who reads this to listen to his music. Support him too. Move on it.
I want to encourage those who have a problem listening to lyrics that contain profanity to think about the total message and not be dissuaded by the language. Good Hip-Hop contains this type of language to illustrate the way things are. Like Ice-T said on HOT97 one day, it would be like watching a horror movie and expecting non-violence or a happy ending. This wouldn't be realistic. Hence, the anger expressed using profanity is the only reality. We can't expect a change in the expression until the situation changes. Artists who make profanity their method of selling their music are not what we’re talking about here. It's thought-provoking songs we want to hear and artists who want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Anyway, we talked:
Marielle: First, could you tell us what the name Paris means?
Paris: I adopted the name at the beginning of my career to be an in-the-face slap at Eurocentrism. And the name Paris is supposed to represent a statement that I am the hate that hate produced in this industry. The revolutionary anger that you hear on my records is a direct result of America's oppression and Eurocentric ideals. And some of it is meant to be ironic in a way.
Marielle: Okay. And how did you decide on the name "Sonic Jihad" for your current project?
Paris: Well as I’m sure you’ve heard the project, you already know the direction that I’ve taken.
Marielle: Yes I have it. I wanted your fans to hear it from you.
Paris: It is intended to be an assault on everything that I see is going on. It's an assault on our government policy and this bullshit state of Hip-Hop. To be an assault on the conditions in our community and the reason why these conditions exist and a conscious effort through entertainment to enlighten people. I guess you can consider it holy war on wax.
Marielle: Okay. Did you read the dead prez article I wrote?
Paris: Yeah I did.
Marielle: I’m paraphrasing M1 who says the song you guys did together along with Chuck D is a unification of generations in Hip-Hop. Do you agree and can you expound on this for me?
Paris: Well we’re all from the same generation (laugh). I think it's a unification of us all. Coming together in a way that oftentimes doesn't happen enough. For conscious artists to come forward and show solidarity in a unified front is something that we don't see happen enough. We see it a lot with artists that espouse negativity but we don't see it enough on our end. I’m hoping that through Guerrilla Funk and my affiliation with artists such as dead prez, P.E., Kam, Zion I, Mystic, and folks of that ilk that I hope to turn this around.
Marielle: Okay. You may know that I’m on the Virtual A&R staff for Slamjamz.com. Before the Public Enemy Revolverlution project came out we were discussing trying to get you involved with it.
Paris: I’m down to do something with Slamjamz. It's all good. I’m supposed to be producing a P.E. record to be released on Guerrilla Funk. Chuck and I have been in contact fairly regularly. I know that he's on the road a lot. I’m getting ready to embark on the road in a major way and I’m going to meet him this year.
Marielle: Must be nice. I can hardly reach him lately. But like you said he's on the road a lot. He calls me once a year. I have to go out to his house to meet with him soon. One of these days.
Paris: (Laughing with me) It's almost like it's a long time coming. Because we’re both more mature and we both have our own things goin’ on. My main lick is not music. I do music simply because I love it and I’m passionate about it. I’m passionate about the message but that's not my main source of income. My main source of income allows me to be able to do the music that I do and not have to answer to anybody. I wanted to create a situation where artists can come together who have something to say and who can't otherwise come out. I mean dead prez, even though they’re doin’ these mixtape projects with Landspeed, as far as major labels embracing their message… I have been in contact with people, having long, drawn-out conversations with folks as to where they go from here. Trying to find a home but having a conversation with somebody and realizing it are often two different things especially in this political climate. You know, who's to say that dead prez won't come out on Guerrilla Funk?
Marielle: Oh, okay.
Paris: We’re extremely well-funded so hopefully we can put something together going forward. I’ve even thought about buying that project out from Columbia [Records] and putting it out on Guerrilla Funk. We’ll see. Everybody's got to be willing to play and I won't do it if Columbia wants to maintain some type of publishing interest. It has to be a clean purchase and a clean departure. And oftentimes there is a label that wants to maintain some type of interest even if it's a non-controlling interest, I refuse to have that or be a part of it. What else… I’m prone to get into it so…
Marielle: You were saying that your main source of income is not music. I went to Guerrillafunk.com and saw financial advice. I was impressed. Did you get my e-mail saying that I need investment advice?
Paris: I got hella those e-mails. Not that I won't help. Don't trip. I do my best to respond. That is in part why I put that up on the site so that people could have a crash course, Economics 101, financial advice source that they could go to.
Marielle: So is that how you make your money?
Paris: That and real estate. Yeah, I’ve been involved in investment banking for some time now and that's what I went to school for. I’m a big proponent in having a fallback solution since you never know what can happen in entertainment. You can fall in and out of paper all the time. We cannot allow our livelihoods to be determined by how much somebody likes us. Especially since often people that don't even like the music and have nothing to do with Hip-Hop are the ones who make the decisions.
Paris: I’m going through this song and dance out here with Clear Channel right now. Dealing with people who don't know shit about Hip-Hop, who don't respect it, who think that everything is partying and bling and bullshit. And it's necessary for me to check ‘em and let ‘em know that they have to be held responsible to the community. They take our advertising dollars especially in my case when they take my advertising dollars I need to see that support. I need to ensure that there is balance being provided on commercial radio that is so influential and often sets the pace in our community.
Marielle: Okay. Have you come under any scrutiny, public or private, for the views that you expressed on your CD about the government, especially the war?
Paris: No not really. Because the reason why I put the website together was to explain all of this ahead of time.
Marielle: Oh, okay.
Paris: A lot of times, people's knee-jerk response to the artwork or the records is one of disgust if they haven't been exposed to the project. For instance, when I do interviews with Fox News or MSNBC it's easy to try and pigeonhole me as somebody who is trying to capitalize on tragedy and capitalize on shock value. But having taken the time to listen to this record which is very deep socially and politically…
Marielle: Well yeah.
Paris: Then they’re ill-equipped and ill-prepared to make that assessment. And a lot of times that's exactly what people with a conservative agenda or people who have been influenced by the conservative media continue to dismiss and write off that as not being something of substance but it is. It amazes me how people get upset about this and not get upset about the real negativity that goes on in entertainment especially Hip-Hop. This nigga bitch phenomenon and this bling pimp bullshit that we keep hearing tend to be accepted as the norm so when I deal with these ignorant mothafuckas at Clear Channel and people like that who want to tell me I’m that I’m out of favor with people's taste, I beg to differ. Mothafucka you dictate the taste so how are you gonna tell me I’m out of favor when you are making the decision and don't want to get behind it. My money is as good as anybody else's so when I drop $10Gs on KMEL or go down to one of these stations in another market and get in the program director's face and have $20Gs passed in an envelope, I don't wanna hear a mothafuckin’ thing you understand?
Paris: And I know that that goes on all the time so I’m not averse to approaching shit this way. And it gets down to the point where there has been a line drawn in the sand with this project because I do have songs on there that work for clubs and the mixtape shows, that are produced in a way that makes them extremely acceptable to commercial radio. All the records on this project are not inflammatory. Some work well on commercial radio. The line is being drawn in the sand. Is it from a lack of funding? No. Is it from a lack of production expertise? No. Is it from a lack of exposure and a lack of commitment on the label's part to the project? No, absolutely not. So it's boiling down to whether or not they wanna get behind it. There's a handful of people who dictate the taste of the entire nation and these are the people that I’m going to war with. I’ve removed all of the usual barriers to the success of an independent project. They say you have to prove the record will sell, well the record is selling. They say you have to be charting well. I’m charting better than a lot of shit that's out there currently playing on the radio. This whole angle of getting love on the streets. Mothafucka I am the streets. I get love on the streets. We represent the community to the fullest, much more so than dancing on the pole and all that bullshit that we hear on these records 24-7. It's amazing to me how they can adopt this mentality that we are out of favor with the community when millions of people marched against this administration. Millions of people are in opposition to what's goin’ on. Every journalist that I hear laments the state of Hip-Hop and even young people say that shit we hear on the radio is bullshit. It's corporate interests that are dictating and determining what our culture is right now. It's necessary to counter that and call their punk-ass out on it and that's what we do. That's what the entire purpose of "Sonic Jihad" and the purpose of the label is. I’m gettin’ artists that are hollerin’ at me who want to be down, that feel at this point now that they don't have a voice. Nobody wants to compromise where we’re coming from. We don't want to compromise our ideals and what we believe. We don't wanna make some shit that is palatable for these mothafuckas that have proven time and time again that they don't have our best interests at heart. So at some point, we stop desiring to be your ally and become your adversary.
Paris: You know we gotta get it on. I know Rapstation is a Public Enemy thing and it's been hella influential on me from day one. And it never was a passing of the torch kind of thing and that's why this comment on the inter-generational thing…
Marielle: Well no, he was saying that people like Chuck and you since you’re an OG in the conscious rap game you passed it on to him. We were talking about my discussion with M1.
Paris: Everybody is supposed to feed off of everybody else. I said it on my third record, that without P.E. there would be no me. That's real. The effect that positivity in the music with P.E., KRS One and Rakim directly influenced how I developed as an artist and directly influenced my world view and served as a catalyst to make me want to learn more about myself and our culture, politics, and social conditions so I know the power that this music has. That's why I don't bullshit with it. And that's why I call these cowards out now. A lot of these artists aren't artists because they’ll adjust their message to be palatable to whatever these labels say they’re looking for. So if BMG and Def Jam and Interscope tomorrow said "We don't want to put anymore bullshit out that's negative for the community. We want to put out something that's gonna enlighten the community. We’re not signing any more gangsta rap acts and shit like that," all these mothafuckas would adjust. Because they do what they think folks are looking for and what they wanna hear. If you’re gonna adjust and switch on a dime like that then that says to me that you’re not an artist anyway. Do what you are true to, do what you believe in. I stand in the face of adversity and could give a fuck.
Marielle: Wow. I mentioned to dead prez that we would like to present a project to the Board of Education to use the internet to educate students about the history of Hip-Hop and to get them to use this as a motivational tool to accomplish their goals. I’m so sure you would bring so much knowledge to the table. Would you be willing to stand up in a forum to do this?
Paris: Yeah. Absolutely.
Marielle: Oh that's great!
Paris: The idea of utilizing the internet as a tool is not foreign to me obviously (laughing). And I get a lot of e-mails from teachers that tell me that they download a lot of these essays and use them in class and that's really what the intent of this is. You don't have to be into Paris records or into Hip-Hop to soak up a lot of the material that we provide. Some documentaries don't have anything to do with Hip-Hop that talk about a lot of things that impact our community that go unnoticed in the mainstream media. And oftentimes the negativity that is embraced in Hip-Hop needs to be addressed. So definitely, I’m a proponent of that.
Marielle: Okay. Well, of course, we’ll be in touch about that. And my last question is who are your favorite rappers or groups and what do you think they could do in their current projects that would help espouse your philosophy?
Paris: First of all let me say that everybody doesn't have to be about what I’m about. All I ever asked for was a balance in Hip-Hop. I never asked for everyone to be on the revolutionary page. I think that would make Hip-Hop as boring as it is now with everybody being on the party pimp page. There needs to be balance in Hip-Hop that's provided. I like bangin’ some gangsta shit too, but that doesn't define who I am and we must have that balance in our community. I’ve been listening to a lot of shit that's not Hip-Hop because Hip-Hop has let me down overall.
Marielle: Really? What have you been listening to?
Paris: For those Hip-Hop artists that I am into, Zion I, Public Enemy, dead prez, Mystic, Kam - all the people I collaborated with on this project. Some shit that I do dig - Jay-Z in his finer moments, DMX in his finer moments, not too much that this coast has to offer quite honestly because there is a distinct lack of consciousness that goes on with a lot of these camps out here that I don't fuck with. If there's something that is blatantly negative for us then I just don't have any part of it.
Marielle: So what have you been listening to if not Hip-Hop?
Paris: Oh and Immortal Technique. Throw him in there cause he's raw.
Marielle: Immortal Technique?
Paris: Yeah he's down with AWOL Magazine and he's an MC on the East Coast. He's socially conscious. He's a hot cat. I’d love to have him in the Guerrilla Funk fold.
Marielle: Okay well if you tell me how to get in contact with him…
Paris: Well e-mail me to remind me and I’ll e-mail you his info.
Marielle: Yes sir.
Paris: That's somebody you wanna holler at. He's a young lion in this. Other than that I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz - Joshua Redman and Herbie Hancock. Grant Green, Thelonius Monk, and Coltrane and a lot of contemporary music that veers from the cookie-cutter path. Yeah, I’ve been listening to Seal and Massive Attack. Things that people wouldn't expect me to listen to but I dig. I love Jill Scott and that group that's down with her. I can't think of it. Off the head, I think it's Family Circle but I’m not sure. I’ve been bumping that to no end cause I need to have music that I enjoy and I appreciate the musicianship. If it sounds like it took effort to put together I gravitate towards it. Because it is an art that wins over commerce to me.
Marielle: Okay. One more thing I forgot to ask. On "Sonic Jihad" how did you get Bush's voice to say that the war was personal for him?
Paris: The altered audio is my interpretation, reading between the lines of what he's saying. In this era, what you do speaks louder than what you say. You can serve us lip service on how this war on terror and how America is right all the time and how we’re rooting out evil, but that's all bullshit. The war on terror is a sham. The government was directly responsible for being involved in 9-11. The war on terror has been a complete failure if there has been a war on terror. It sounds like a war on people of color globally. No Saddam, no Bin Laden, no weapons of mass destruction, no proof of Iranian purchases from Africa, no additional terrorist acts on American soil by people who are supposedly massive terrorists is all bullshit. It's a ploy to increase government power and enhance defense budgets. It's a power grab and a money grab and an oil grab, and it has been that way ever since it's inception. America has a brutal history of interaction with people of color and imperialist aggression against other countries. The population here is being brainwashed by the propaganda we are being given and a lot of times being forced to be complicit with the objectives of this administration. There's so much propaganda out there and I do my best to counteract it. So fuck them with a capital F!
Marielle: Wow. You’re a real deep guy.
Paris: I do my best.
Marielle: I was listening to this and sayin’ wow, they’re gonna try and kill him saying this kind of shit. That's why I asked you if anything happened to you. You know, is anyone calling and threatening you.
Paris: That's why I’m very protective of my family.
Marielle: And that's why you won't tell me what your wife's name is (laughing).
Paris: I’m very protective of what I do. I live in a gated golf community to prevent a lot of bullshit. I don't regularly go club hopping and rarely announce where I’m gonna be appearing because I don't wanna put myself in any unnecessarily adverse situations. I don't have to go to clubs to get my record across and this is not a fucking club record anyway. If I come across as being paranoid or overly suspicious don't take that as disrespect.
Marielle: No. I understand. You gotta do that.
It's so cool to interview someone, and when you ask questions, they are so well-answered that all you have to say is "Okay." You see that that happened often here. Paris answered questions before I could even ask them. If you need to ask more questions, please feel free to contact me at Elleski@slamjamz.com and I’ll get those answers for you. So there it is.