By Anna Pulley
By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
By Erin Sherbert
By Rachel Swan
By Joe Eskenazi
By Erin Sherbert
By Erin Sherbert
Unless you wanna live on your knees, throw down.
This call to arms is followed by "Sheep to the Slaughter," a pounding rap overlaid with the sounds of anti-war demonstrations.
And when ya see me, understand I'm representin' a voice
The majority would feel if given a choice.
Paris' collaborations with Kam and singers from Public Enemy and Dead Prez lend vocal depth and musical complexity to the album. The bittersweet lyrics of "AWOL," about ghetto kids tricked into the Army with false promises, alternate with the battle cries of "Tear Shit Up":
Fuck the system, I'm-a holla with a black fist
It's hard truth, where my soldiers?
Unlike most contemporary rappers, Paris reserves the term "bitch" for Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld, while labeling President Bush a murderer in a photo-op jumpsuit who is too cowardly to go after a target that might shoot back. He believes that modern wars and oppression are the result of a conscious plan perpetrated by evil people, such as the Bushes, rather than by the capitalist system. He lays it all out in another song on the Sonic Jihad album, "Evil."
See, if I was wicked I would pick and stick to a plan
To rule the world and trick 'em, this is how it'd begin ...
In a school system where I'd keep the money too tight
I'd let 'em know just where they belong in my world
Turn the boys into felons, makin' hookers of girls
Swirled up in my plan, build jails to keep
All my prisons full of niggas, have 'em workin' for free ...
Teach 'em only to respect sports, music, and dope ...
They'd forget about elections and the way that we cheated ...
Then manipulate the media -- it's U.S. first
Get the stupid-ass public to agree with my words
Then I'd make the play, takin' all their freedoms away.
So far, Sonic Jihad has sold 94,000 copies, Paris says, and is licensed for international distribution. He clears $9 per CD sale (and keeps half of the $20 people fork over for Guerrilla Funk T-shirts). Early next year, the rapper/entrepreneur will take his sonic jihad on a worldwide tour.
"To a certain degree it is necessary to participate in the capitalist system," Paris remarks during an interview at the Starbucks in downtown Orinda. "You just have to minimize your involvement with treachery, be aware of what companies are producing, like Nike."
We are outside, leisurely sipping lattes, watching SUVs come and go. Paris is casually dressed, at ease with the world. "Here at this Starbucks, life is good," he says. "If you are a consumer, you have suburbia, movies, lattes – as long as you are spending, life is good.
"The average clueless American buys into talk radio and hate speech. It's easy to pull the wool over their eyes when they don't read. But when people are informed about reality, it is human nature to become more left leaning and progressive, because it makes more sense.
"I believe we should socialize medicine and education. There should be no wanting for basic needs. We need a free-market capitalism that does not exploit people."
Paris believes that his archenemy, Bush, will be brought down by a bad economy in 2004. "Americans are so dumb and selfish, they only are about themselves. All is forgiven here when the economy is good. It's like music. R. Kelly can pee on little girls. Michael Jackson can feel up little boys. But all is forgiven with a hit. Same thing with Bush. If the economy is bad, everyone will start saying, 'Fuck Bush.'"
Paris still encourages people to fight their individual oppressors, such as cops. "Revenge is a dish best served with steel," he sings on Sonic Jihad, putting a more explicitly violent edge on an old adage. But Oscar Jackson Jr. is a successful entrepreneur who genuinely likes capitalism. What he doesn't like is the people in charge of it. Not surprisingly, this self-made man, in accord with his own interests, opposes megacorporations, including those that own record labels, because such organizations eat small businessmen like him for lunch.
But both Paris and Oscar Jackson Jr. want Americans to reject and even to rise up against a government run on behalf of the "small elite group of people, family, friends, [and] businesses who control the world's strings.
"The average person believes that wars happen by chance and that people who can analyze facts are 'conspiracy theorists.' But is it really a stretch to say that an incestuous group of people, like the Bushes and the Gores, control global politics in such a way as to predetermine the outcome of events in order to ensure war-based profits for themselves?"
So why bother to vote?
"Like it or not, we have a two-party system," he says. "In the lesser-of-two-evils scenario, it's the worst-case scenario we are living in right now. I was never a Republican. I've been a Democrat because they are not so blatantly repressive as the Republicans.
"But if you believe in an eye for an eye, like I do" – Paris has the stage again now – "the best-case scenario would be to take the elite in Washington, D.C., and shootthem."