By Flatline, Rapstation.com
Know the time. There is another wave of consciousness coming through in hip hop and who better to set it off than Paris and his Guerrilla Funk label. The man is a vet, spitting venom since 1990, and making no apologies for it.
Now, in 2006, Guerrilla Funk is about to have its biggest year ever. I had the privilege of asking the black panther of hip hop a few questions recently. The Devil Made Me Do It, Sleeping With The Enemy and Guerrilla Funk/Unleashed were released as deluxe editions in 2003/2004 - then Guerrilla Funk was quiet for a minute. I was curious to know if the label was seeking out new distribution during that time, as well as getting people like Public Enemy and T-K.A.S.H. into the studio.
"Yeah, the distribution was being expanded stateside and to include Canada, all of Europe and new partner in Asia. We were also busy getting the new projects ready...PE, T-K.A.S.H., The Hard Truth Soldiers Vol. 1 compilation, and the Conscious Daughters, among others."
The Public Enemy featuring Paris album "Rebirth Of A Nation" set off 2006 with a bang. An album not easily digested in one sitting, like any good PE record, it takes multiple listens to fully appreciate the sound. Paris clearly went all out on this one, producing the entire project and writing the majority of Chuck D¹s lyrics. The lyrical performance that Paris pulls out of Chuck will easily flash back any PE fan to the late 80¹s/early 90¹s rhyme animal. As this was a first of it¹s kind record and an experiment that Chuck had been thinking about for some time, I was curious to know what the recording process was like and step by step, how was it all put together.
"Well, first let me say that ghostwriting has been going on in hip-hop since the genre started - we were just up front about our arrangement. Chuck made it clear from the onset that the project wouldn't happen if I didn't do the work, so I stepped up to the plate and put it together. I wrote, composed and performed it and gave him the completed tracks to learn. Then I flew out to Long Island and recorded him and Griff, paying strict attention to certain flows and inflections that I have come to associate with PE's classic material. After that I came back to the Bay and put it all together. It is intended as a throwback to what I love best about PE, with a 2006 bi-coastal twist. It's also intended as a platform for unity, showcasing contributions from some of the best politically aware minds in hip-hop - dead prez, Kam, Immortal Technique, MC Ren & The Conscious Daughters."
With the success of "Sonic Jihad", Paris is now looking to release like-minded artists on the label. With the recent release of "Turf War Syndrome" by T-K.A.S.H., and upcoming albums from Kam and The Conscious Daughters, hip hop in 2006 may find that balance it so desperately needs. As it stands, Guerrilla Funk is the main player for releasing nothing but high quality, political hip hop. With radio embracing "Rebirth", could there be another wave of serious consciousness in hip hop, and more even more importantly, with what's going on in the streets and the world in general?
"Right on. If radio kicks in I won't be mad, but GF's success is set up to not be reliant upon radio exposure on a commercial level. All college, community and tastemaker stations nationwide are on it, shit is #1 added at CMJ, television commercials made a dent globally and worldwide sales and subsequent reorders are strong, so I'm pleased thus far. I still have to see how things completely pan out stateside, and how Flav's decisions are going to affect the PE brand moving forward. We're also still trying to get this tour crackin' later this year...stay tuned for that."
Along with producing all of "Rebirth Of A Nation", Paris also pulled out all the stops and produced all 16 tracks on "Turf War Syndrome" by T-K.A.S.H., getting my nod as one of the best albums of 06 so far. T-K.A.S.H. slams hard with the political verses, yet can mix humor in with his social commentary. It is truly refreshing in every sense of the word. Also interesting, are the funk-based tracks that Paris laces him with. The drums are harder ("How To Get Ass"), while some are stripped down ("Turf War Syndrome") to their bare essentials. The way this album flows from one track to the next will have some listeners flashing back to "Sleeping With The Enemy".
"Thanks for the compliments. T-K.A.S.H is one of the most important new voices in hip-hop right now, and it was an honor to provide a platform for him. He is extremely well informed about hip hop and current events, and he has liberal doses of humility and honesty in his music...qualities non-existent in hip-hop in general nowadays. Got some heaters on his shit, which is presented in an almost audio-documentary form."
Hard Truth Soldiers has also been recently released, presenting some of the acts that listeners can expect to hear more from in the next year. Kam sets it off right, self-producing "Can¹t Break Me", MC Ren spits political heat, The Conscious Daughters rep for the females and new soldiers like Uno The Prophet and Truth Universal hold their own among the vets featured here. Exciting things are still to come from Guerrilla Funk, but will MC Ren be releasing an album on the label?
"MC Ren is retired and won't be doing a full-length album as far as I know. I get at him for verses, that's about it. The Conscious Daughters are in the works with a project that's about 3/4 complete, and will provide a sorely needed female perspective in hip-hop later this year. Truth Universal, Uno The Prophet and Sun Rise Above are the most recent additions to Guerrilla Funk, and there are forthcoming projects from stic.man of dead prez, Kam and me later this year. There are some administrative hurdles to overcome with the latter two, but that's all part of the business, and we're starting to be recognized as the go-to label for counter-establishment material."
Guerrilla Funk is that label. The one that will pull out all the stops to bring forth nothing but hard-core, political material. Unfiltered, uncensored, raw and uncut. Guerrilla Funk is the real deal. Paris is the man for putting it down like no one else and bringing along some of the best in the biz to put it down with himŠsparking a legacy and engaging thought processes around every turn and track. With the Paris solo cuts on "Rebirth Of A Nation" being some of his most focused to date, what more could you possibly ask for?...except maybe a sneak peek into his next album.
"Thanks again, I appreciate it. My next album is still in the early stages of development. I need to maintain the same level of intensity and political specificity that Sonic Jihad had, and to be sure the same theatrical qualities come through in the production. I like 'event' records - big, sonically explosive projects that will withstand the test of time and become solid catalog items. Stay tuned, and please visit and subscribe for updates at www.guerrillafunk.com."