Faces Of Freedom
Chuck D (Public Enemy) & Tijana bass
Hip hop culture knows no boundaries and rap is the voice of revolution - these two statements define and represent definitely one of the most bold, most raw, real and rough rappers of our time. Born in Roosevelt Long island, rapper Chuck D from Public Enemy is not only that, among many things he is also an activist, publisher, lecturer, actor and a producer.
The frontman of PE always believed and fought for the political power of hip hop music giving us one of the most influential albums in all hip hip history -'It takes a nation of millions to hold us back''. Continuously addressing the negative views associated with rap music, Chuck D stated that ''rap is cnn for black people'' and that it is Public Enemy's belief that all human beings are equal and that rap initially was about ''the message'' and that time has come to go back to ''the roots''.
Being on tour with PE, in the summer of 2003 he came across Tijana bASS, an open minded rapstress who is today one of his recording artists signed to his independent label SLAMjamz.
Since mista Chuck believes in the power of female voices, he started a she-movement that he hopes for the world to recognize. Among many of his projects he also brings us his recent duet with Ms bASS, notoriously entitled ''Face of freedom''...
Autona: Freedom is the word! What are some feelings that come to you concerning this issue and do you think it's contradictory that some people believe wars are being led and fought in the name of freedom?
Chuck D: The feelings usually that governments are good at separating human beings. The theory of war conflicts with freedom and life itself in many cases. This is why we choose arts and culture. It's the universal language of human beings.
Tijana bASS: Freedom - an open mind reaching it's potential, out of the box...inside the playful universe! War is never a solution and only a bitter escape from reality. To make war in the name of freedom is the greatest paradox led by fear and megalomania!
Autona: What has changed from the 80s-Public Eenemy times to right now?
Chuck D: The ability to communicate better through technology. We now can connect across the planet in seconds. Very few lies can be hidden. Everything can be exposed , especially when something smells bad.
Autona: Where are Public Enemy today and when can we expect the next PE tour?
Chuck D: All across the USA . We can only do continents at a time. Presently we are playing the Fujifest in Japan and are looking at Africa in december. Europe possibly summer 2010.
Autona: Gangsta rap, big cars, fur coats, the bling-bling mentality... What do you think about this part of the hip hop culture today?
Chuck D: It's a smaller shrinking part of it ...with the world struggling to eat and pay their bills, gangsta, big cars, furs etc. seems like a cartoon. It doesn't relate to reality, thus real artists like Tijana saying real things are what SLAMjamz is about.
Autona: Is there still hope for hip hop to come back to it's original roots, or is it becoming more and more the big money making machine talking mainly about materialism? I think about P.Diddy, 50 Cent etc...
Chuck D: It is returning to the roots because many artists don't need the big machine of companies anymore to record. The only thing those artists can do better is talk about money. We are encouraging our artists to satisfy entertainment while saying something that means something.
Autona: What is your relationship with Flavor Flav like, and what do you think about the controversy surrounding him?
Chuck D: Flav and I are very cool because I am honest with him. Flavor is an entertainer and we balance him as public enemy. He knows he has to be accountable in his own solo life and career away when he doesn't do Public Enemy.
Autona: What do you think about some of the skepticism concerning the President Obama's sincere role in reconstructing some of the core beliefs of the us policy?
Chuck D: It is typical of the powers that be who have been dominating for hundreds of years, change is a problem with many. There will be more skeptics in the future.
Autona: Your label SLAMjamz stands as an independent record label, how free and independent is SLAMjamz in spreading the message around and touching the mainstream with it's hard core messages and raw talent expressions?
Chuck D: It is a grind but enjoyable work in progress. When we started in 2001 so many people didn't have a clue, now with online connection and social networking like myspace, youtube, facebook, ilike, reverbnation, twitter etc, people are used to heading to itunes , amazon, rhapsody to upload and download music, film and art...this is a good time. Now it is time for the artists to work hard on the stage and in real public social commitment.
Autona: What is the story behind the Chuck D and talented mc/singer from Europe, the Tijana Bass collaboration?
Chuck D: I met Tijana in 2003 in Belgrade - Serbia. It was after our concert there at an event. She informed me the real deal of a person affected by the politics of conflict, whereas before it was only world news from far away. She also was a fan of music from the West but felt that she could be an entertainer in some way. I told her rap and hip hop provided a chance for her voice and soul, if she was prepared to learn. She worked hard in her language as well as American English to meet the challenges halfway. I recorded early work with her in Vienna, Austria, and afterwards her executive producer slamjamz a&r Sean 'Studdahman' Devore visited her hometown and helped her learn even more. During the last 5 years Tijana worked hard on her goals. She recorded some key songs at our studios in the USA working with slamjamz artist and a&r songwriter Kyle Jason from the label who is featured on her first single ''Da, Da, Da...DA!''. She did videos in nyc with slamjamz videographer David 'Cdoc' Snyder. From here we feel that we have shown and developed Tijana bASS to be her own person, write her songs, shoot her videos, choose her people and staff. We at slamjamz want to teach and support our artists with the tools to do their own thing. This led to Tijana asking me to collaborate.
Tijana bASS: What can I say, I am honored to be working with such a wise, ''no bullshit type of attitude'' legendary rap and culture figure. Chuck was and is a mentor and a long time friend now. His opinion means a great deal to me and I respect the way he has given me freedom in developing myself as a woman and as an artist, as opposed to the artists that are ''being made''. I wasn't surprised how well he understood and wanted to listen and help to share my ex Yugoslavian civil war experience. ''Vincit omnia veritas'' or ''truth conquers all'', I really feel destiny wanted me to meet someone as honest as Chuck. We both feel that my story of war and discrimination needs to be heard. He's my partner in crime. A true ''public enemy''...and that's real!
Autona: Can you tell us more about the idea behind the she-movement?
Chuck D: Shemovement will be a supersite dedicated to the networking of women in hip hop. Shedigital is a label subsidiary of SLAMjamz that is dedicated to the women signed to the label. Shemovement.com hopes to be a vehicle networking labels, artists, videos and the inner personal networks by many women in hip hop.
Autona: How did thePpublic Enemy's producer Studdah Man & Tijana bass combination come about?
Chuck D: Studdahman is a great dude who wanted to work with bringing a new international vision with the digital age to slamjamz. As mentioned before Studdahman traveled to Slovenia and went to Tijana's hometown of Maribor and talked to her parents , took photos and got Tijana ready philosophically about her project and the challenges of recording. Studdahman is the executive producer and has his own album full of various artists out called ''the deficit''. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/b0027qvwwu
Tijana bASS: Wow Studdah! He's also become a great friend over the years. He helped me so much in finding my style, my way of writing, performing, etc... Even though my poetry or taste in music came naturally , it's always great when you have an open minded entrepreneur like Studdah backing you up. He is multi -talented, I call him my ''superproducer''. Someone who understands quality over quantity, someone who gave me my first hip hop beats ever!!! Studdah is the executive producer of my debut album ''Playground'', together we made some crazy tracks!! Chuck had a good feeling about me and Studdah clicking together, and he was right!
Autona: What would you say is the main message of ''Playground'' album and who do you hope it touches?
Tijana bASS: ''Playground'' is endless, it is the universe, it is where we breathe and hope... It's colorful, playful, funny, angry, sad, but always, always full of love! It is my baby record- it came out just recently- june 29th 2009. It has a very international sound. ''Playground'' was recorded in New York, but also in several European countries (Austria, Serbia, Slovenia...). With this record (you can listen Playground on www.amazon.com) I want to encourage just anyone to believe and not be afraid. Fear is the main tool that some individuals use in order to keep us under the shock, so that they can manipulate and keep on feeding the lie. It's silly once you realize this fear is merely an illusion... So relax, enjoy and play!
Autona: With what feelings do you look back on your civil war memories today and how do you involve your political opinion in your music?
Tijana bASS: I never look back with regret or hate. All humans should forgive- it is a part of the catharsic process. At the beginning of the civil war in 1991 my house was bombed to the ground by the regime government in Croatia at that time. My family was nearly executed, we just had to become refugees over night. I've lost so much in the war but gain just the same. Yugoslavia is one of the worlds examples of what greed, xenophobia and religion can do. Throughout the war, in some areas, religion was used in the most dirty way possible, couse faith wasn't about uniting people, it was about separating them. Personally, I am not religious, I am somebody full of faith and with the help of the teachings of my mother who is a bold journalist, I do involve all my opinions into my music, by just being brave and honest.
Autona: Do sex and revolution go hand in hand and can a female artist be sexy and still be taken seriously?
Chuck D: Of course, if the world was run by women there would be more peace. I also think that being sexy is a positive thing in entertainment as long as the women make their own decisions, and not being totally dictated by the men in it.
Tijana bASS: Sure! Sexy is beautiful and beauty is always meaningful!
Autona: This interview started in the words of freedom and shall finish in the similar sense: ''Face of freedom'', a duet breaking the boundaries?
Chuck D: It is a first of sorts. I am glad to be associated with someone like Tijana bASS who felt that her point of view needed to be heard. She is a great example for our labels artists to follow. Her dedication into building her own following with her staff and team allows us to supplement her career with the guidance and tools necessary in this digital age.
Tijana bASS: ''Face of freedom'' is my duet with Chuck D, it will be a second single off the ''Playground'' album with a video shot by a great actress and filmmaker Ms Dafne Jemersic. ''A different duet'' to say the least and my favorite song off the album. Will it break the boundaries? Well with an ex Yugoslavian and an American rapping about freedom it certainly broke some rules...
Â© 2009 July by Kaly Kolonic