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Exclusive Interview With Paris – by C. J. Higgs Part 1


8 December 2003 No Comment

In this 2 part interview C.J. Higgs has an in-depth discussion with Paris. The discussion centers around divergent issues such as American politics, file-sharing and his album “Sonic Jihad”. Recommended reading.

My relationship with Paris’ music began during college. It was the early 90’s and I was working on a paper for English class about Tipper Gore’s censorship hungry Parents’ Music Resource Center (PMRC). 

Although, Al & Tipper called themselves ‘Deadheads’ and heralded Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisted and the Beatles’ Rubber Soul as being among their favorite records, they seemed very keen on labeling much of America’s music as being obscene and they pushed really hard for the now famous Parental Advisory stickers. John Denver, Frank Zappa, and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister fought bravely against what they thought to be Nazi-esque plans to saddle certain artists with a ‘scarlet letter’ in the form of a ‘warning sticker.’ Zappa went so far as to compare the sticker to making Jews wear pink triangles.

During this time, Paris was dropped from his label for getting a little too political. His Public Enemy inspired commentaries were too hot. He says that the whole record, Sleeping with the Enemy, was the cause, but one song in particular caused quite a bit of controversy. The song in question gave a fictional account of what its speaker was willing to do to get a President named Bush out of The White House. Now that there is another Bush in The White House fighting with the same dictator, Paris is there, unafraid to speak his mind. His new record, Sonic Jihad, is not only brilliant social satire, it’s calls out strong for a return to politically charged hip hop. In a perfect world George Clinton’s lyrics like “Free your mind and your ass will follow” and “Everybody’s got a little light under the sun” would be enough for us all to sing along to and get down together, but since the powers that be are trying to put more and more over on us, Paris takes that P-Funk thing and makes it G-Funk, as in Guerilla Funk. Despite continued mainstream censorship of his work, the internet is working for Paris. In addition to the success of Sonic Jihad taking him on tour to Europe shortly, he will also be issuing remastered and remixed versions of his 1st three records. With plenty of music on the horizon, that doesn’t stop him from keeping the people informed about the stuff the status quo doesn’t want us to know. 

His Guerilla News Network is a huge source of authority questioning information. His call for more “Hard Truth Soliders” can be met @ www.guerillafunk.com

In the era where empty sensationalism and spin reign supreme, every fan is the publicity department and the old fashioned ‘check this out’ mentality is essential to spreading the word. It’s painful to think of honest, passionate artists like Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer as GONE. Those that have the guts to say it and play it like it is should be heralded as heroes before they leave this planet. Paris may not get a clear channel thru Clear Channel, but nobody in hip hop can beat him in the categories of passion and sincerity. Paris was kind enough to take some time out of his recording schedule for this interview (12-4-03):

Improv: How are things going with getting the record in the stores, are any of the majors outlets taking it?

Paris: Sonic Jihad? Best Buy is coming in with their order this week. Everybody has it but Wal-Mart and Target. 

Improv: Yeah, I was wondering if I would see it at Target because sometimes they do surprise me and carry stuff with warning labels, unlike Wal-Mart. Like I was surprised, they even had Gang Starr. It was kind of a pleasant surprise.

Paris: Those two chains account for 55 percent of the market.

Improv: I’ve lived in the city for a long time, so I feel sorry for people who live out in the middle of nowhere where Wal-Mart is their only outlet for music except for mail order. 

Paris: Exactly. And that’s why Guerilla Funk was put together and, you know, the website that’s why it’s as cohesive as it is and all the merchandising and everything is available through there. 

Improv: Yeah, it is the way.

Paris: Yeah, that’s absolutely the way.

Improv: Did you watch the Peer to Peer hearings (Senate hearings on downloading)?

Paris: Nah, I don’t really give a shit about filesharing. I feel like that any constriction that’s put into place, people are going to get by it. At this point, you know, people feel a false sense of entitlement regarding it and you just get on the outs with the listening audience by protesting.

Improv: One thing I think was overlooked is that people like Kazaa are talking about the ability for people to get their information out in the world, you know, the internet is obviously an outlet for people.

Paris: Through Kazaa?

Improv: Well through Kazaa, but through internet technology in general.

Paris: Well, yeah, but as far as Kazaa goes you have to be searching for some unknown shit to find it, you know what I’m sayin’ (laughs). So that’s like a pretty lame argument for them to say that ‘we provide independent artists a voice.’ That’s bullshit. They provide artists that are signed…they provide the audience, the listeners, filesharers, an ability to share well known shit. Nobody’s getting on Kazaa to look for…

Improv: For local artists? That is true. Well, certainly with the internet, obviously I’m not hearing your songs on the radio, so I find out you’ve got a record comin’ out so I go to your site, hear a song and like it and there you go, the album is purchased. 

Paris: There you go.

Improv: There’s no advertisers. There’s not a zillion middle men between you and me. 

Paris: Right. But, the unique situation with Guerilla Funk too is that, you know, I really take the extra step to make it a value added entity and jam pack it with information and jam pack it with material and sources that you don’t get elsewhere that, you know, should spark thoughts and dialogues and things outside of entertainment. Really just make it a cohesive package and present people the ability to join up and be down with the Guerilla Funk brand and be a Hard Truth Soldier and resist this corporate rap climate and this entertainment we get, you know? And all you gotta do is enter your email address, with your email address you end up being a subscriber and getting news and updates and newsletters and being part of a community that is blatantly rejecting what’s going on.

Improv: I really like the Guerilla News Network and find a lot of information on there that is really valuable. It is a good depot for thoughtful information. And it definitely goes against the grain of what is out there. 

Paris: And that what we intended it, you know, to be the antidote for Fox.

Improv: I get emails and somebody sent me the Clear Channel inter-office memorandum about the war, you know, the UN process is theoretically still going on at that time and they’re already talking about how they are going to promote war. Before war is even declared by the President. 

Paris: Right.

Improv: You know, when you say in a song that peace is looked at as being un-American, that’s how I feel. I’m a pacifist, and you know, it’s like a joke. It’s not even a consideration. The idea of talking about something…

Paris: Yeah.

Improv: And then you have Dennis Kuchinich, who is running for president, talking about a Department of Peace and people look at him like its some sort of ‘Kum Ba Yah’ kind of novelty. 

Paris: Yeah, right.

Improv: Are these people parents who told their kids to ‘count to ten’ or is this something that disappears after you get to be a certain age?

Paris: Well, you know, any time that money is involved, you know, the climate changes for a whole lot of people. I mean right now, especially with this economy…and don’t let this good taste fool you with the recent reports, this economy is fucked up. All these recent reports about a rebound and all that is a ploy to get people to vote for this killer. But any time the economy gets bad the intolerance level rises, you know. And it would be a much harder sell for going to war and this ‘rah rah America first’ bullshit if everybody’s belly was full and everybody was employed and doing cool, you know? A lot of people seemed to be doing better before Bush got in. In say, like ’97, ’98, when economic times were risin’ high. 

Improv: It is fascinating to me that someone can squander a huge budget surplus and someone can say ‘he’s doing a good job.’

Paris: Yeah, but look it this not in terms of him being, to you know, do what they can do to get re-elected. You have to look at this more from a smash and grab point of view. That’s the way I look at it. Who gives a fuck if you are re-elected if you are pillaging to the tune of billions? 

Improv: I would certainly admire someone who is willing to lose. (By fixing things, not cashing in)

Paris: I think that’s what it is. Now there’s this half-handed attempt to say the economy is coming back. What people see on the news they are going to believe anyway. Jessica Lynch. Whatever they want to tell you on TV as being the truth. If Sean Hannity says it’s true, then goddamit, it must be true. 

Improv: Have you read Al Franken’s new book?

Paris: Nah, I haven’t. I’ve read about it. 

Improv: It’s really amazing. I mean not only is it funny like all of his books are, but it is truthful. I mean, Sean Hannity, I don’t watch TV so I’ve never seen the guy, but he spent a lot of amount of time talkin’ about him. And it is amazing, I mean, I’m not on TV but I feel a certain obligation like in real time and real space to say what I ethically believe. And this person he will go on TV and blatantly say things that aren’t true, and he does it on tape so that’s it’s there for all time.

Paris: Sean Hannity?

Improv: Yeah.

Paris: The thing with all conservative talking heads is you have to be intelligent to be in the positions that they’re in. Right? You’re not going to be a fucking dumb bunny being on Fox News talkin’ about politics, social programs, and the intricacies of, you know, international policy. You’re not going to be on TV talkin’ about that and not know what you’re talkin’ about. There put in place to be able to booby and to specifically serve the interests of the corporate elite. And when you take that in mind and you really begin to look at them as being the sellouts that they are because you have to know better to be in that position in the first place. You have to have access to all types of information. And you know, it’s a situation basically where they chose the dark side. They chose the wrong side of the coin. That’s a choice that they did, that’s not something where, like, what is it, 86 percent of the population is duped into believe propaganda because that’s presented to them. You know, most people in America get their news from Fox, but he (Sean Hannity) is Fox. Shit (laughs). So you know, you have to realize he has all this information available and he just chose the wrong side that’s all.

You know it’s like a lot of people like Ann Coulter, even though I think she’s dumb as two left feet, who are out there who, you know, know better. If you look at a show like Hannity & Colmes, just fuckin’ overpowers Alan Colmes, who’s supposed to be the liberal.

Improv: In Al Franken’s book when he put Hannity & Colmes, he put Colmes in a much smaller font every time to illustrated that the ‘Fair & Balanced’ isn’t so balanced, or fair. 

Paris: I did an interview with Alan Colmes. Of course with me he wants to be ultra-aggressive. 

Improv: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that. When I saw the cover of your record (Sonic Jihad) and I’m looking at your website I thought, this is great, because you can articulate a counter point in a philosophical and clear way, so I thought you would obviously spark controversy and get on the major outlets. Has that happened?

Paris: I did two. I did MSNBC with Lester Holt, which was right before the State of the Union Address. It was a pretty constrictive time slot, you know. So that was like no more than five minutes. And we mixed it up just a little bit. And a Fox News interview. The trap that so many of these people who look to find fault in something that’s good fall into is that: a) that haven’t heard the material and b) they already have this type of a knee jerk response without having really done their homework. A lot of times, especially with hip hop man, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel if you want to complain about negativity. Overall hip hop is bullshit right now and if everybody comes about talking about ‘pimp juice’ and pimpin’ and you know shootin’ and drugs and all that then fuck man, it’s easy. It’s easy to find fault in hip hop, but it’s easier for me to find fault in the corporations that endorse this shit than it is the artists individually.

Improv: Yeah, it just didn’t magically appear. 

Paris: Yeah, there are plenty of people who are out there who are like me who would say what I’m saying if afforded the ability, you know. So it’s not like I’m a lone voice in the middle of sanity, I’m one of many voices in the middle of the madness. And what that interview did was…of course he came to the plate ill equipped to deal with what I wanted to talk about. It’s one thing to say, ‘oh god, you’re capitalizing on tragedy. How could you you heartless son of a bitch? You know, say the Bush Administration is responsible for 9-11’ and all this so you know. Come at it with that angle and then turn around and get countered and say look: first of all this is a selective morality that you’re imposing because you don’t bitch, you know, about the 99 percent of the other hip hop that comes out that’s negative for our community, that impacts all cultures. They don’t talk about that. They’re at ease with black on black crime and violence and drug use. They’re at ease with that, with the images on BET and MTV, you know. Everybody seems to sit on their hands when it comes to that, but when it comes to someone who is taking a direct shot at the powers that be and the people who mold public perception and perpetrate the propaganda, then it’s problem. And so I said, man, are you going to be more upset about this album cover which is obviously fictitious or are you going to be mad about these illegal and unjust wars? Are you going to be mad about the condition of the economy? Are you going to be mad about racial intolerance? Police brutality, or something, that’s ongoing, which was sadly reinforced by recent events in Cincinnati. It’s a trip now because we’re at the stage now that everything’s become so politicized in America that now people decided what they want to believe, you know what I mean? It’s not being faced with right and wrong and then doing the human nature thing and gravitating towards right.

Improv: If you offer somebody some information that confounds what they’ve been saying they just blow it off, and then it sort of goes back to whatever the, sort of, default setting is. ‘I work hard to get into this tunnel vision, and I’m not going out.’ 

Paris: Well man too, you’ve got to understand, we’re going upstream against a very effective propaganda machine sloppy as it is, you know, with Weapons of Mass Destruction and uranium and all that shit. And as sloppy as it is, and as many times as their skirt gets pulled up, it’s something that’s constant. It’s constant… it’s constant…it’s constant. Well they say, first of all, when truth is shown in the middle…that contradicts and they ridicule it and secondly they violently oppose it and then thirdly they accept it as being self-evident. Well, I think we’re in the third stage now. Everything was fun and games and shit two years ago, then there was this huge battle for the minds of America and now there are a lot of people who are to the point of realizing, okay, you know what, we’re playing musical chairs here and I’m standing up. 

Improv: Yeah.

Paris: There are a lot of people who are starting to realize that, and okay ‘I’m fucking jobless, I’ve done everything they said to do to keep America rolling, I bought a new car, zero percent down, zero percent financing, you know. We financed my mortgage two or there times to get the lowest rate, you know. I borrowed money against my house at these inflated real estate prices.’ Man, especially on the West Coast, there are a lot of people that are going to get caught with their pants down.

Improv: I was just up there in the Bay Area with my wife in July and we were up there with a friend who’s 60 years old who lived in San Francisco for most of his life. He hadn’t been there in a little while and we were blown away by how much everybody’s clearing out. There only people are left there are The Carlyle Group and George Schultz and people like that. 

Paris: You know, people who can afford to live here. But if you are a homeowner here you should sell by all means and take advantage of this. They have two bedroom one bath houses going in the 7’s, in Frisco. 

Improv: Yeah, we went to the Mission Cultural Center and La Pena up in Berkeley and they were literally, projects that they were working on, stopped in their tracks because there was no money. And my wife volunteers in the last school that has an art program in this area. If they want to make the argument that during wartime that art is frivolous and blah blah blah, that’s fine although I happen to disagree with. But what about math? 

Paris: Education period has been frivolous to them. When you look at it from the standpoint of want to keep people dumb, wanting to keep them blind to what’s going on, subservient and not analytical thinkers and really nothing more than a working class it makes perfect sense to them to continuously underfund and undermine, it makes perfect sense to them. That makes absolute perfect sense for the corporate elite to do that. They wanna maintain the status quo. None of this shit happens by chance. Everybody’s been pissing and moaning about ‘there’s no money’ and 150 billion falls out of the sky, literally falls out of the sky. All the fat cats, all the Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Halliburton, Carlyle, and all these entities that are Bush cronies, these defense contractors they eat so lovely right now.

Improv: I still find so many people that will tell me they’re doing it for us. Two dollars a gallon for gasoline Halliburton is charging in Iraq, they’re doing it for us.

Paris: Three dollars a gallon here, shit. I mean, Iraq, first there was the imminent threat, then of course, no weapons are found. And even the missiles Saddam had only go 400 miles. There was never no threat at all. And they were harboring Al Qaeda. Saddam and Al Qaeda, their regimes have traditionally hated each other. 

Improv: Yeah, that information was readily available and I would hope the people in The White House are more informed than me. 

Paris: And then we come with this falsified evidence, this plagiarized shit from a ten year old college thesis Powell showed…I go deep with this shit. I mean obviously I’m not going to make a record indicting these motherfuckers without knowing. 

Improv: See that’s what I’m saying, you feel compelled to be able to back up what you’re called on. Whether they call you on it or not.

Paris: Really showing you, in a really blatant way, the in-effectiveness of the media and the complicity with the Bush agenda that they have. I mean that right there in and of itself should have caused all kinds of red flags. OK, lied repeatedly. No uranium purchase from Africa. Plagiarized evidence of weapons. The lack of weapons. Everything. And of course all the inconsistencies of 9-11, the refusal to cooperate with an independent investigation. 

Improv: You wake up to the nightmare that George Bush is President, again. My immediate thought is of Sam Neill’s face on the cover of the Omen III poster, from my childhood.

Paris: Do you have a copy of the inside cover of the album?

Improv: Yeah, exactly, when I bought the album and opened it up and saw the picture I laughed. A sad laugh. (The image of Omen III in Sonic Jihad replaces Sam Neill’s face with the face of George W. Bush) I mean, obviously, I don’t want to think of a real person as the devil, but then I see the arrogance of something like ‘the Western White House’ and a guy who’s on vacation while real information about real threats sit on his desk and he doesn’t care.

Paris: And when there are so many people who have political power who traditionally are opposed to what’s goin’ on, Greens and even Democrats, who are fucking scared to death. You know, and understandably so in a lot of instances. And a lot of people have a lot to lose, but you can’t just sit by and watch and see people pillage the planet.

Improv: When you see the Patriot Act go through and people who traditionally stood up to Bush or anybody the disagreed with and they are being told, OK, you can’t read a really complicated thing that’s a hundred pages long in like two hours and really think about it and philosophically analyze it. And they’re basically told ‘the blood is on your hands, my friend.’ There are times where you can hold everybody responsible, but…certainly now.

Paris: Now people can look at it objectively. We’re not looking at it through rose colored glasses anymore. Now you’ve had the opportunity to dissect the Patriot Act, version one and the proposed version two that was leaked on Guerilla Funk, you know, pretty clearly. People don’t realize that their Amendments have been violated in the Bill of Rights. And the fact that that act renders some many of those Rights ineffective. The best thing right now that you can do is utilize information and spread it. I look at Kucinich and to a less extent, Dean. I mean there is a lot of anger in the general public that these people reflect. And what we really have to do is stop acting like ‘Republican lite.’ All the people considering themselves liberal and progressive act like Republicans. 

Improv: I was watching the first round of debates, the one from Phoenix and they (the Democrats) are all acting like the underdog. They won the last three elections and the person who stole the last election squandered a huge budget surplus and pretty much ignored what the Democrats traditionally value in terms of health care and so on…education…just the idea that maybe we are all in this together.

Paris: You would think that they can feel it. Honestly the most important thing that they can do is right now that Greens and Democrats in some aspect should have some type of a solidarity. 

Improv: I agree. Actually, I voted for Ralph Nader in the last election and so did my wife in the last election, and people would tell us that we squandered our vote. I mean, as an individual, how can you say I squandered my vote, when I voted for someone who I wanted to be president. I mean, I know when I vote for Ralph Nader that there is a chance that someone I really don’t want to be president might become president, but that doesn’t change the fact that if I vote for Al Gore I’m voting for someone who has promoted in the past things that I disagree with.

Paris: I think a lot of people now are adopting a prevent the worst case scenario approach. (Laughs)

Improv: Yeah, I won’t be voting for him this time. I will be voting for Dean or Gephardt or Kerry or Clark or whoever gets the nomination. Although, it starts to scare me when you get someone like Clark, I mean he’s not even really a Democrat. 

Paris: I’d be scary with Kerry too, you know. He’s a Bonesman. 

Improv: Tell me about that.

Paris: Skull & Bones, it’s a society at Yale. Bush was a part of that. 

Interview by:
C. J. Higgs

Continue to Part 2 of the Interview

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