Those familiar with my writings know I am not a big fan of artists who promote messages of sex, drugs, and violence to our youth. As a fan of, Los Angeles born rapper, Zayd Malik, whom now resides in Georgia, I decided to interview the socially conscious artist, who sometime pushes the envelope, while still finding room for substance and reflection. Read the entire interview below.
Saye Taryor: For individuals who may not be familiar with you, would you please give them a little background information about yourself?
Zayd Malik: Yes. My name is Zayd Malik, and I was born in LA, California, into a politically conscious family. My parents are founding members of the New African Peoples Organization, and Mutulu Shakur is my God Father. It is he who got me started in hip-hop. When I started rapping, he gave me the opportunity to help produce an album called, “Dare to Struggle”, which was in part a tribute to his son, my god-brother, Tupac, as well as a tribute to political prisoners such as himself. Later in my career, I began the Outlaw “Rbg movement”, in response to the different crews I came up through, which I studied under for years. I’ve learned from groups like the legendary, “Outlawz”, as well as the founders of the, “Rbg movement”, Dead Prez. It only made sense for me to do this, because it was so natural to my person. It was how I came up.
Saye Taryor: What are some of the watered downed content, and stereotypes in the music industry, you would like to educate people about?
Zayd Malik: I want to educate our followers and fellow generals and soldiers alike about the imbalance that we see in hip hop so much. There’s nothing wrong with the music in and of itself, for music is just an expression of what’s really going on, but what we see taking place is a lop sided account of black life, as portrayed by hip hop. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with stating what’s negative about your hood, your life, or the people around you, its just that, I would like to hear just as much, what you love about your situation, in a positive way, so that people outside our community get a better picture of “Nu Afrikan” life within the empire of “Amerikkka”, and not only for outsiders, but for our children as well.
Saye Taryor: Do you allow your son to listen to your music, and what lessons do you wish to pass down to him, as a father, and as a musician?
Zayd Malik: I don’t allow my son to listen to all of my music, only that in which I deem his ears ready to understand. He’s only three, so something’s are just simply out of the reach of his consciousness. I would hate for him, at his age, to get a snapshot of what I may say in a song, without gaining a full understanding of it, so I spoon feed him, and watch his mental growth like a hawk, to see what he may be ready to be introduced to. The main lesson I want to pass down to him are to consider other peoples opinions, but first always think for yourself, and to be aware of where your ideas actually derive. Too many of us think other people thoughts without even knowing it. That, as a father, I believe is a good basis to a good life. As a musician, I would like him to understand that music is our most powerful tool for healing and getting through to people, and if so inclined to do it, be good at it…LOL.
Saye Taryor: Describe the relationship in which you have with your son.
Zayd Malik: Aw man, my son is like my lil brother. I love him more than life. We train, and we have great conversations. He might walk up to me out the blue like, “Baba, lets talk”, and we talk about anything from Star Wars, his favorite movie, to Malcolm X, or even ice cream. I just try to keep him talking to me, so when he gets older, he’ll be used to it. My biggest fear is that we wont be able to talk when he becomes a teen, so I’m riding on that. He can do twenty push ups straight, and about two pull ups with no help. He’s on his sit up game, he’s got a “cooooold” fighting stance, and I let him hit me in the face every now and then, just so he can see what it feels like. I try to let him keep his lil manhood in something’s, if you feel where I’m coming from, which comes back to bite me sometime, but overall, we have a good balance and a good relationship.
Saye Taryor: What are your spiritual or religious philosophies?
Zayd Malik: I tell people all the time that, I’m not religious, and, I’m spiritual. What I mean by that, or what I’m saying, is that there’s never been one way to believe in God. I take the best of all religions and attempt to apply it to my life. I treat my life like a research paper, and any good research paper has multiple sources. In my opinion, a life that only knows one truth is more limited, than that which knows three.
Saye Taryor: Describe the blueprint of a political philosophy in which you would support?
Zayd Malik: I support the philosophy of Malcolm X, when he said something to the effect of, “when they come at you, they not coming at you because of your different ways of life, they come at you because you black”, and with that said, me, and some of my comrades, from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, have come up with 6 principles that any conscious “Nu Afrikan” (black person) can agree with. Those are, reparations, an end to sexist oppression, human rights, an end to genocide, freedom for all political prisoners and prisoners of war, and the right to self-determination, which we lack as a whole. These are the things we believe have been used to oppress us, and if we were to attain these principles, freedom will be actualized.
Saye Taryor: When you prefer to yourself as a revolutionary, what exactly are you trying to revolutionize?
Zayd Malik: Understand that all revolution means is change. All of the things I referred to in the last question are things that need to be revolutionized. When we talk about self-determination, were talking about everything from what “Nu Afrikan” children are taught in schools across this country, to how we spend our money. We must support ourselves, period. Our concept of a woman’s role must be revolutionized to the tune of Nehanda Abiodun, Assata Shakur, Queen Mother Moore, Cynthia McKinney, etc. “A revolution without women aint happening.” These things would be a good start. I’m sure the readers of this interview got some ideas also.
Saye Taryor: Beyond the music, what other methods do you use, as a revolutionary, to educate others and to promote values, organization, and discipline?
Zayd Malik: Music is my main way to speak to people. Apart from that, the actions I take are being a living example of what my music says. We train because we understand that health, or bad health for that matter, is an issue in the “Nu Afrika” community, as well as self-defense. I raise my family, because I also understand that the family is the first unit of struggle. I believe it to be important for people to see me with my family, to contradict the thought that black men aren’t there for their families. As a general, I must say comrade; I can’t go into too many details about how I move. I hope our readers understand that.
Saye Taryor: I can dig it. So what does the term, “Nu Afrika”, mean to you?
Zayd Malik: The term “Nu Afrkan” means this. We are Africans, in the empire of America, with a new experience. We must give acknowledgement to that which occurred in relation to the Maafa (slave trade) and how it has affected “us” here in “Amerikkka.” A brand new struggle was born when we came here from our homeland, creating a new culture, thus the term, New African. In this way, we pay homage to those that died on the shores of Africa, fighting to stay, those that sacrificed their lives by jumping off slave ships, refusing to be a slave, and those that were murdered once here, due to countless atrocities levied upon us by our slave masters. The way we have struggled to survive in this country has pulled us together, creating by default, a new breed of African, no better, or worse, than continental Africans.
Saye Taryor: What is your outlook on the current political and economic landscape of America?
Zayd Malik: I believe we are moving into the “next phase” of capitalism. The kind of capitalism that is built on fear of government, which is what its always been built on, but still, I believe we’re going into yet, another phase of it. The most dangerous thing that can happen to a person is to loose hope, and with the election of a black president, I fear a lot of people are becoming even more disenfranchised than they were before. For some of us, this was our “last chance”, which was wrong to think in the first place. After he’s out, it may be harder to get people to fight for self-determination. For black people particularly, it’s getting progressively worse at an accelerated rate. Optimistically, I sometimes think maybe this is a good thing that’ll force us to stick together, at an “accelerated rate”.
Saye Taryor: What is your opinion, or outlook, on my article titled, “Rap Music Manifesto”?
Zayd Malik: I agree with this article. I believe the manifesto can be improved if we were to add a list of priorities. A list of where do we begin, and where do we end, as it relates to improving the hip-hop industry. A good beginning toward that end would be to start with the labels, the program directors, and then the artists themselves. As I’ve stated before, I believe the problem isn’t content, but balance and programmers control that because they choose what gets played and what doesn’t, and the labels control what the directors pay attention to. More often than not, they choose to play what may be considered, a “negative” song, under the guise of, “that’s what people want to hear.” We know this not to be the case, just by looking at the change in music from the 90s, to now. In the 90’s, music had more balance. You heard artists like Tupac, Arrested Development, Public Enemy etc., alongside gangster rap. To me, that speaks to the industry heads, and not to the artists themselves, though they hold some responsibility in the matter. They can choose collectively what kind of music they make. Even still, should it all be “positive” rap? No. That would create another imbalance. How we go about these things remains the question for another article, I guess. Zalute comrade! (For the “Rap Music Manifesto” article) Great work.
Saye Taryor: Thanks. I hope you and I can have a more in depth conversation about this, in the near future. To move along, do you have any current or future projects you would like to let the readers know about?
Zayd Malik: Geah…My current project out now is “The South Is, “Nu Afrika Vol.2: OUTLAW RBG in the FLESH”, which was released in March. I am currently planning to release two more albums soon. I also have a good size catalogue of music videos, interviews, and performances on, www.youtube.com/zaydmalikoutlawrbgz. I am featured on Dead Prez’s latest mixtape, “Revolutionary But Gangsta Grillz”, hosted by Dj Drama, “RBG til I Die”, and also on Stic.man of Dead Prez latest solo album, “The Workout”, on the song, “Joe Louis”, as well as the Outlawz mixtape, “Killuminati2k11”, on the song, “Bring it Back”. I will also be on the, “Tupac Family and friends Tour”, In Africa, coming up in January, with the legendary Outlawz, and Tupac’s brother, Mopreme.
Saye Taryor: Sounds like you’re on the grind, as a fan, I hope you continue to stay 1up brother. I’ve enjoyed this interview so much; I just realized I’m down to my last question. Where should the readers go to purchase previous and new musical projects, and how can they contact you if they are interested in booking you for performances, or public speaking engagements?
Zayd Malik: All of my music can be purchased at www.zaydmalik.bandcamp.com. “The South Is Nu Afrika Vol.1, and 2” are also available on Itunes, and most online distributors. Anyone interested in my services may contact firstname.lastname@example.org Zalute! Free the Land! Find on Facebook and Twitter