Paradise Gray on conscious music and Jasiri X | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


Paradise Gray on conscious music and Jasiri X


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When we interviewed Paradise Gray, he had this to say about conscious music and its history in relation to Jasiri X.

When you talk about conscious music, that's what black music always was. From the essence of what music is, when the Africans played their drums they didn't just play them to shake their asses and have fun. They banged on the drum as a way to show respect and admiration to the creator. Both music and dance were created to praise the creator. 

When you look at the history of music in America, that's exactly what black people did with their music, they made spirituals, and those spirituals got them through slavery and the hard times here in America. After slavery, genres like the blues and stuff like that were created when people started deviating from just using their music to praise God. But the rich traditions in black music always continued with artists like Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley. A lot of people don't realize how conscious George Clinton's lyrics were; they got lost in the funk. And then you had our elder Harry Belafonte, who wasn't just a conscious artist because of the lyrics he sang, but because of what he did with his money and what he did with his life when he wasn't on the microphone. And I think that's the more important part of being a conscious artist, to live a conscious lifestyle and to dedicate yourself to the betterment of yourself, your community, and your society as a whole is a much more important thing when considering what a conscious artist is. 

Paul Robeson was one of the ones who helped our elder Harry Belafonte come to the kind of consciousness that he had. And if you look the history of Paul Robeson as an artist, it's not just the songs that he sang that made him conscious but it's the way that he fought for civil rights and civil liberties and human rights that made him a conscious artist. 

I think that Jasiri's consciousness follows more than just the hip-hop consciousness, which started with Public Enemy, KRS-One, X-Clan, and Poor Righteous Teachers, leading on to this legacy. Even though I feel that Jasiri's bloodline is directly from X-Clan because of his connection to me, more so I feel that his inspiration is along the lines of Paul Robeson, Harry Belafonte, Bob Marley bloodline. Because he's more than just an artist with it; he's an actual activist with it.


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