featured interview

Preach Garveyism From South Carolina comes Preach, a millipede who's involved with photography, journalism, comic books, he works in a music shop and last but not least, he released one of the tightest independent releases of 2006 on his own Blusic Productions. 'Garveyism' is a testimony on black awareness, an ode to music and life. We let the author speak for it...

Your group is called Blusic Productions, how should we see this concept?

Blusic Productions is basically the foundation behind everything that I'm trying to put out. It's sort of a double meaning. First it's me paying homage to Miles Davis with his album 'Kind of Blue' and also it's an incorporation of 'black' and 'music'. There are many talented artists that I'm working with that are in-house producers like Clokwork and Midi Marc as well as emcees from my area of Columbia, South Carolina. One in particular is a very talented emcee named Ntelligence. My ultimate goal is to be able to help other people put their music out, play the Quincy route and help them develop a sound. But in order to do that, there must be that one project that gets the people familiar with what you're doing. That project was my album 'Garveyism.' Blusic is more or less a brand that will be my attempt to represent upliftment to the hip-hop/younger generation through creative arts. Beyond the music, I am also a journalist and photographer. I want to go beyond the music to help make a change; this is what Blusic is about.

So what have you released uptill now, solo as well as with Blusic Productions?

The only other thing that was released under the Blusic moniker was a project I had called 'Baby Blus: The Lost Blusic' of older material that I had recorded with my band mates over the years. None of the songs were official, and pretty much dated. I ended up using this release as a fundraiser to help finance 'Garveyism', which is what I consider the first official release for Blusic.

Your new album took a lot of time and effort, has it become the album you had in mind?

I am very proud of 'Garveyism'. My goal was to put out the best record that I was capable of doing with my finances, with my connections, with my abilities as a vocalist/MC. That's really the foundation of hip-hop music: make the best out of what we have. Based on what I was capable of doing, I made an effort to put out the most honest and humble piece of work that I could master. Good or bad, the album is a reflection of me. You hear it, you know me.

If you had to rate your album how much would it get on a scale of ten?

That's a loaded question. I stand by my record. People read this interview, and if I say that I give it a ten, they would imagine that I'm vain, or self-centered. But I don't see it that way. I would give it a 10 based on what the album means to me. Will it be considered a classic by others? No. Did it break new ground? Maybe not. But dammit, it's my attempt to make the world better with my interpretation of my art. So, fuck it, I stand by my record. I love it. I have to. Cause at the end of the day, if it's stomped by critics, I'm the one that has to look myself in the mirror. There are so many musicians and artists that I've had the honour of being around making me see how small I am in the scheme of things. So, I do know there's so much more that needs to be learned and my goal is to be a better artist/musician each time. For example: The album has gotten really positive feedback. Just about every review on the album said that 'You can hear his passion throughout the record'. Basically saying that, even if I'm no way near the skills of an Andre 3000, they still see the passion. But, I do have the desire to be held as a dope ass emcee. When these new remixes of 'Throw Some D's on It' and 'Walk it Out' came out with Andre doing a verse on them, I would listen to his verse and nothing else. People would go crazy over his words. That's a goal that I have, is to be held in that regard. So, how am I gonna get there? Some people are able to do that shit naturally. The Phonte's, the Andre's of the world just have it. People like me, have to work to aim at what comes to them naturally. So, at the beginning of '07 I promised that I would write a song a day. I've been sticking to it too. Will people hear these songs? Maybe not. But it's my attempt to improve as an emcee. That's my goal.

Are there any more songs you wanted to have on it?

There was a song called 'Thank You' that was going to have Stic.man from Dead Prez on it. We just couldn't get the paperwork in by the time the album was ready to go to the presses. But it will be on something in the future.

How did the collaboration go down with Nicolay?

Okayplayer. I hit him up and we were in touch through AIM, and I threw the idea to him, and he was down.

You were going to do a full album with all Nicolay beats right, what happened there?

That was the initial idea. But in a nutshell, Nic had many things on his plate, and I couldn't keep up. Didn't have the dough to cop everything. Before Blusic was Blusic, it was just Preach. A one-man operation. So things had to change and adapt. I'm grateful to have him on the album.

There's a 'remake' of Fela Kuti's 'Water No Get Enemy' on the album...

Fela is one of my greatest influences. Afro-beat is a theme that is sprinkled throughout the album. But I didn't want to put it on too thick to scare away the people that aren't familiar with it. I do have plans on working on an Afro-beat project with producer Clokwork in the near future. But I can't remember when I was introduced to Fela, it was just one of those things that was always a part of my musical taste. Seeing him perform on his documentaries, and hearing him speak, that passion that people say that I have in my music is very Fela influenced. I think 'Water No Get Enemy' is one of the greatest songs ever recorded. The song basically is talking about the importance of 'the people', the 'water'. No matter what happens in the world, the people make it run. So, to be a man of the people is a very noble thing since fame and music can convince someone to really be about themselves. It's very humbling to see an artist that puts his people and community about himself, even when it endangered his health. I would love to be able to get his son Femi a copy of the album.

Why did you call your album 'Garveyism'?

I called the album that to try and make these younger heads out here look into it. If they dig the music on it, and feel the beats etc. then someone is going to look up the name and hopefully put them onto this great mind of the 20 th century. Also, because while I was in the process of recording the album, I had it named something differently, the writings of Marcus Garvey gave me the proper light and confidence to move forward. I had this misconception that if I recorded the songs, had a great producer (Nicolay) doing beats, then it's a matter of time that a label will pick it up. That's not true. You must put your future in your own hands and make shit happen. Garvey was a huge advocate of black ownership and being apart of your community. That's what hip-hop is supposed to be about. So, calling the album that was my way to get people curious about him as well as show my respect.

As opposed to Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey isn't that much quoted or mentioned in hip-hop, except by Nas and Wyclef maybe, what's the reason behind that?

That happens because it's unpopular to read and do research. I remember growing up, even at a very young age, that Black History Month only talked about three people; Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman. I knew there was so much more beyond that and had the desire to find out about my history and my people. Especially since, if you let other people tell you about your history, then eventually other people will write your history. Nowadays, people don't care. But it's not the kids fault because they are unaware of our culture. If we left it up to BET or other popular outlets to tell us about black history or our historical figures then we would be lost. That's basically what the deal is now. So, I feel it's necessary for the artists that have the ear of the youth, to spit this type of stuff. I remember growing up, the fact that Rakim spoke about the Gods and Earths made me read more about it. We take for granted the power of the emcee.

Do you think a lot of hip-hop fans associate the Black Star album's title with Marcus Garvey?

I hope so, but at the same time, I remember growing up and hearing people think the name of the group was basically saying they were 'black celebs'. I remember when I was first introduced to them, I loved the name. I was down to cop it without even hearing a song on there.

Another influence and hero is Gordon Parks, you also do a shout-out in the beginning of your album, what aspects of his work do you appreciate?

Gordon Parks was a true renaissance man that did so many things exceptionally well. Prior to the album being done, Gordon Parks was probably at the top of the list of heroes I wanted to meet before they passed. I was particularly paranoid since he was really up there in age, eventually passing away at 93. But being a photographer as well as a musician, Gordon was a very talented pianist, his work seemed to have spoken directly to me. The people he was able to work with, photograph and influence, yet be so humble is something I strive for and hope to accomplish in my future career. Not only as an artist, but as a person.

How old were you when you saw 'Shaft'?

I remember seeing bits and pieces of it when I was around four years old. But my folks had to shield the sex scenes away forcing me to try and catch it on one of those movie channels when they weren't around. 'Shaft' was a bad ass dude. He was that black man that was held in high regard, the hero of the story. A black 'Dirty Harry'. I think it's great that Gordon Parks was key in directing not only the film but responsible for helping Isaac Hayes get the score just right. Gordon Parks was a phenomenal dude.

Did you like the re-make with S.L. Jackson?

I didn't like it at all. I thought it was great for the Gordon cameo, but other than that I really didn't dig it. Only thing that I did notice was that Jeffrey Wright was a good actor, even though his character was horribly written. But we can't bat a thousand every time at the bat.

Could you draw any significant resemblances between Gordon Parks and Marcus Garvey?

I think they both can be noted for the passion of their life's work. Gordon's life was his work. Travelling around the world taking pictures, having his music played by orchestras, directing films, his life was his work. Marcus Garvey and his U.N.I.A (Universal Negro Improvement Association) was his life's obsession. He was so passionate about educating people of color in the western world and trying to get them to be proud of Africa. He always spoke of 'Africa for the Africans' which is how I feel about hip-hop. 'Hip Hop for Hip Hop'. The people that make the music should control the music. But to not get too off track, Garvey's passion was his life. Ironically, he passed away without ever touching ground in Africa. But him and Gordon have a passion that is unparalleled.

You're a freelance journalist, if you had to ask one question to yourself what would it be?

Where do you see yourself this time next year?

And what would be the answer?

Wherever I can best do God's work.

Who did you interview recently who left a great impression on you?

It wasn't really an interview, but I had the opportunity to hang out with Musiq Soulchild. It was humbling to be around a platinum selling artist, in a field that I dream to be in and shooting the shit with me. He's probably the coolest dude in showbiz. Cooler than a fan. And not to mention probably one of the greatest Dilla beat collections you'll hear.

As a hip-hop journalist, you have a much broader view on hip-hop music than most of the artists who stay in the studio and only listen to their own music, has this been a blessing for you or does it in any way stop you from having an own, personal style?

Being exposed to people doing what you want to do really gives depth on how you view things. It's helpful to hear how other people view certain things going on in the industry or the culture in general. Plus it helps to see what other people are doing, or better yet not doing. Ultimately by talking to these people and seeing what they have to go through on a regular to make the music gives you a better appreciation for the art and a respect for the dream. So many people have the same dream. The dream to have an effect on a large mass of people and some people try their whole lives to get to those levels. It's something that you must respect and approach. You can't play with music; it's too powerful of a force. You must take the craft seriously.

What hip-hop albums are you bumpin for the moment?

Lately I've been bumping that OM compilation that they just put out. And also the new Kweli/Madlib EP and the new Little Brother mixtape. But just on a random note about the Kweli joint, I'm just loving everything that Kweli has been putting out lately. He's been killing everything and I'm glad to see him back in top form. You can hear that confidence in his voice again. I don't think Kweli gets enough credit. Dude is a monster.

What's ATCQ's best album?

I love all of their albums for different reasons. But I believe 'Midnight Marauders' means the most to me. That's when everything started to fall in place with me, and my understanding of how important hip-hop was. That album came out when I was about 11 or so. That's when hip-hop started to mean more than just music to me, now it was keeping me out of trouble as I spent my time trying to be these MCs in the mirror with a brush. If didn't have that music, I know I would have been getting my ass into trouble. That album really did it for me.

Are you a record collector?

I collect records, but don't consider myself a record collector. Because I feel that record collectors would spend their last dollar on that hard-to-find vinyl. I feel like I'm really a late bloomer with the vinyl, cause many people that are into collecting records usually inherit the shit that their parents owned and then moved forward. Unfortunately my folks didn't collect, so that kind of set me back. I mean, I have the Technics and a few pieces, nothing to get excited about. I flirted with the idea of investing more money into it until I saw footage of ?uestlove's stash and immediately decided to fall back. I take it as it comes, I'm cool with the modest collection I have.

What was the first hip-hop album you bought?

'Step in the Arena' by Gangstarr. I actually mentioned it on 'Start Button' on the album. I remember that shit like it was yesterday. I was about 7 years old and my pops took my brother and I to the local record store, ironically I work their now, and said we can get a tape. My father was hip to the parental advisory, so he wouldn't cop one of those. So, I initially wanted MC Lyte's 'Act Like You Know' but it had a big fat sticker on it. I saw Gangstarr in the tape case, and remember seeing the black and white video for 'Just to Get a Rep' and prayed that it didn't have a sticker. It didn't and that was history. I'm glad it didn't have a sticker because if I couldn't find anything I would have gotten some corny early 90s R&B tape or something.

Are you listening to any non-hip-hop artists at the moment?

I'm really, really into Amy Winehouse's new album. And I am so in love with J*Davey. I guess that's my latest celeb crush, but the music is so fucking sexy, raw and fly. She has just an unmatchable swag that is so dope to me. I wish we had more rappers doing what she's doing now.

What was the last book you've read?

Last book I read was called 'Kindred' by Octavia Butler. She passed away about a year ago and that broke my heart. I recently got Nikki Giovanni's new book 'Acolytes' and also this book called 'A Long Way Home: Memoirs of a Boy Solider'. 'A Long Way Home' is about child soldiers in wars around the world that's becoming more and more disturbing each day. My boy showed me a pic about a month ago that was all over CNN.com, etc. that had a child no older than about five years old holding a pistol. That shit is frightening. This book is written by Ishmael Beah, which is his first hand account. I haven't gotten into it just yet since my schedule is really crazy right now, but I plan on finishing it within the next week or so.

Do you drink Coca-Cola a lot?

I try to stay away from Coke, but when I'm out and about I fall victim to Diet Coke and grenadine.

You're also a photographer, what exactly is the concept 'Afropics'?

'Afropics' was actually my attempt at trying to be clever. It's a play on word, where black folks comb their 'afros' with 'picks' but also using the term 'afro' as being focused on my people. And picks being 'pics' as in pictures. I thought it was clever, but we'll see. I've been doing freelance/professional photography for about six years and people seem to dig the name so I guess it's cool.

What hip-hop artists did you take pictures of?

I've been able to shoot and interview Common, Krs-One as well as photograph artists like Outkast, George Clinton, Aretha and a few more that I can't remember right now. I've been very fortunate to be able to do it. I was geeked out to see one of my Common photos on his official website. I didn't get my photo credit, but I know I took it. (laughs)

What's 'Blutopia'?

'Blutopia' is a comic strip that I'm working on with illustrator Sanford Greene ( http://www.sanfordgreene.com ). He's like an uncle and we hang and just listen to music and peep comics/work he's doing. I threw around this idea of having like a comic strip (like newspaper three frame comics) where I'm the main character. It's something fun for us to do and we're about done with the first strip. It's pretty funny seeing myself as a cartoon. I just hope the humor is beyond being funny to me. Sanford is so damn busy though, that I don't know if I can bother him with this idea on a regular basis unless there's real interest in it. As of now, it's just another avenue where I can try and express myself.

You have a lot of avenues, but if you had to choose between all the things you're doing what would it be?

Definitely music. I don't think there's a better feeling I've had than being on stage and having people smiling and cheering for you. I envy artists that can tour and just have that type of power. My goal is to make my living with the music.

You're from South Carolina, we're not really familiar with a lot of SC artists except for Danny!, what local artists are you diggin for the moment?

We have some heat coming out of South Carolina. There's a really talented MC named Ntelligence who's album called 'Black Boy Lost' is coming out by this summer. Congrats on him recently becoming a father. There's also a crew from here called The Elements that are doing their thing. I try to keep my ear open to everything around here. People really don't give South Carolina enough credit. I don't take it personally I just feel it's my job to show them that there's quality music here. There's no use in getting pissed and yelling that "people don't respect the south!" I think just do your music and people will be educated accordingly.

Weren't you afraid that the album wouldn't get enough attention locally, due to the crunk-infested market?

I don't fear that. There's an audience for everything. I believe that if the shit is dope, then people will respond to it. It's funny, working at a record store; it's a very unforgiving public. I think that's great since these people work hard for their money and they are picky about their music. I would play 'Garveyism' for the so called crunk crowd, and not tell them it's me. To see their response of a head nod and them saying 'Who is that?!!' I get the satisfaction of knowing that they didn't respond like that to appease me. I believe there's so called crunk folks that respect what I do, 'cause I take it seriously and they can see the effort put into it. Even if it's not their cup of tea, everyone that's heard it or seen/met me respect it. But hip-hop is a billion dollar industry. Instead of getting mad that a 'crunk' crowd won't buy it, my question was 'who IS going to buy it and how do I get it to them?'

Are you into crunk?

Some of the shit is dope. I think so called 'back packers' are so dismissive towards crunk stuff and I think that's unfair. I feel crunk is cool since we need balance. I tell people all the time, I don't want to hear Digable Planets in a strip club. There's a time and place for everything. I believe the only problem is that the radio and video channels don't have that balance. So, we figure that since we don't see The Roots on BET that it means people don't like them. No, people just aren't exposed to them like they need to be.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Working on getting this album out to the masses as much as possible. Also, working on a tour overseas that's shaping up pretty well. Keep your eyes locked to: http://www.preachjacobs.com and http://www.myspace.com/kindablu on updates.


Blusic family: Clokwork, Ntelligence, Midi Marc, DJ Ambush, Jah Freedom, Helium Music and everyone that supports the album. Shout outs to Sounds Familiar record store. I love yall!

Thanks a lot Preach!


POSTED 03|10|2007
conducted by cpf

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