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Exclusive Interview With Paris – by C. J. Higgs Part 2


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.

Improv: And so Kerry’s a part of this too? You know there was this discussion on the Enemy Board (the Public Enemy message board) about the election and someone mentioned that.

Paris: You post on the Enemy Board?

Improv: Yeah, I post under ‘Improv.’ I’ve seen you post on there.

Paris: I look at you man, ah shit. That’s family. (Laughs) It’s all good. Give everybody a shout.
I think that anyone who would call themselves as being in opposition to this, to what’s going on, needs to galvanize and find a celebrity like Martin Sheen to get to run for president because it seems like the only thing people respect is celebrity. 

Improv: I mean obviously Schwarzenegger winning hands down…

Paris: I live in an area that’s a testament to that because I’m in Cali. But I mean, Martin Sheen is somebody who’s been opposed to a whole lot of shit. Susan Sarandon. Tim Robbins. And Sean Penn to a lesser extent. 

Improv: I really feel with somebody like Martin Sheen he isn’t afraid to wait for the tide to change for him to come out against something.

Paris: Already independently wealthy. Already viewed as the President in hella peoples’ eyes. 

Improv: That’s a good idea.

Paris: (laughs) Fuck these lukewarm people like Kerry and Gephardt. Get somebody like Martin Sheen who’s already been in the trenches as best he could. You know, he’s been arrested hella times. Get him on board and let him be the spokesperson. Hella people look at him as being Presidential anyway, just cuz of the West Wing. That’s one thing that needs to happen and the second thing that needs to happen is we need to bring back hip hop boxing. 

Improv: Hip hop boxing?

Paris: Those are my two value added ideas right now. I think that if you wanted to get somebody out of office you’ve got to import celebrity. You’ve got to get somebody like Martin Sheen, not to say…I don’t know what he believes in to the fullest, but somebody like that would be perfect going against this machine. And hip hop boxing, to take it a step further, would eliminate a whole lot of grandstanding and posturing and false bullshit that goes on with these feuds. It would eliminate all that.

Improv: As a pacifist and somebody interested in philosophy, you know, lyrics to go with good music, when people get into feuding I just can’t even hear it. It’s one thing if it’s a philosophical feud that they are the symbol of. Let’s say as ‘Joe Rapper’ I’m the spokesperson of an ideology that this other person opposes mean is the symbol of that…I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about just a guy against a guy. What does that have to do with me?

Paris: I say put up a million bucks. That’s the bounty. Do an HBO special or something with Don King and some shit and have hip hop boxing night. We have a two or three a night. Have Jay-Z and fuckin’ Nas, that’s one. We have J.D and Dre. And fuckin’ Nelly and KRS. Let all three of the motherfuckers…three different title bouts. And whoever gets their ass beat gotta shut the fuck up. And that’ll settle it. And that will effectively curb a lot of that ego bullshit. Comin’ out ‘hey what you gonna do to me?’ and ‘You fucked my wife’ and all that bullshit man. That would shut all of that down and that would bring a whole lot of honest back in the game. I don’t know. Just a thought. 

Improv: Talkin’ can definitely go on forever, but a fight is usually short and it isn’t necessarily as dramatic as They Live (the John Carpenter movie).

Paris: I mean that’s potentially career ending. You get your ass beat like that and there’s a whole lot of people that aren’t fuckin’ with you. So many people’s perceptions of these artists are based on the imagination of Def Jam or Interscope or whatever the publicity machine is. That’ll shut it down. 

Improv: Davey D (www.daveyd.com) had an article and he had a quote from you at the top about Eminem. I totally thought what you were saying is the truth. People can get distracted about Eminem or whatever the thing is at this given time or two months from now whatever it is, but it really is just pop culture distractions from the real issue. 

Paris: Right. Exactly. You know, in hip hop, damn near the entire industry at least the corporate level is guilty of negative imagery and depicting women in an unfair light. Negativity affects the community adversely. 

Improv: I don’t watch TV, but if I’m staying at a friend’s place or a hotel or something I might see…

Paris: BET or MTV?

Improv: Yeah. My friend has teenage daughters and he tells me how he can’t let them watch BET because of what’s on there. So I’m staying at a friend’s place and I turn on BET. I see this video and it’s so outrageous that it must be a Chris Rock satire or something, but it’s not.

Paris: CB4?

Improv: Yeah, exactly, it’s like CB4.

Paris: You get to talkin’ about ‘pimp juice’ and having women on leashes and shit like that, you know, and they’re taking it too far.

Improv: What I saw was money being thrown in the air and women in thongs having their asses spanked. 
And in the middle of the day.

Paris: And the other thing…I’m not trying to change anybody, but there is a time and a place for everything. Getting women in thongs and their asses spanked, there’s a time for that, but I don’t want to see it 24-7.

Improv: Yeah, I’ll show up and support their right to make it. 

Paris: It’s just got to be balanced and on a major scale it’s not balanced right now and that’s where I have a problem. That’s why Guerilla Funk is as jam packed as it is. That’s why Sonic Jihad is as uncompromising as it is. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for a lot of people. Some people can’t even get the pill down their throat. They can’t get passed the imagery. 

Improv: Yeah, I get the record and it says “The Return of the real Hip Hop” and I wish other things delivered on their promise as much as that because honestly something like It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is the benchmark for me and even though I love a lot of hip hop records, very few records even compare. 

Paris: I feel the same way. I said it on Guerilla Funk, without PE there would’ve been no me. I’m definitely beholden to them forever. I supposed to be doing…here’s something for the Enemy Board. I talked to Chuck about doing this PE album to be released on Guerilla Funk. 

Improv: No kidding? Oh great. He posted talking about a tour with you next year. 

Paris: Actually I’m getting ready, my first tour date is on the 17th in Frisco. We’re doing Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, LA. Then we’re going overseas because this record is doing real well in Germany, the UK, and Holland. So then we’ll go over there and smash on them for a while and then come back and do Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, then we wrap up the rest of the States. I can have all these street teams in effect, all these Hard Truth Soldiers who want to work on the streets putting up all the promo shit. It really is kind of a community based effort as far as, you know, being on a grassroots level through word of mouth and through Guerilla Funk and being on email lists and so on. It’s rewarding because the people who are down with are people who feel very adamantly about what I’m saying and who want to be down. It’s not something that’s a result of being played six times a day on a Clear Channel station. People know my music not because they’ve been exposed to it by default. They know it because they want to know it and they want to be a part of it and that shit is hella rewarding. And that’s why it might take me a minute to respond to all these emails, but I get back to everybody who hits me up. So I tell people reach out anytime. 

Improv: I’ve seen people who get really popular like Pearl Jam talk about how they wish they could roll it back to like 10 percent of what it becomes so that it was just the people who really feel something about it that show up, And that is one thing that you have the luxury of is that you know people aren’t there because it was the thing at the time and something else will come along and that will be that.

Paris: Right. Well that’s true, and also I have so much more interaction with people that I wouldn’t otherwise have interaction with which is kind of unique.

Improv: That is one thing the mainstream music business is good at is trying to put a bunch of people between you and them and act like a necessity when now with email and things like that why are they needed?

Paris: Well that, and if when you look at the effect the mainstreaming of hip hop has had on hip hop, you know, it’s completely nutless. It’s nuts have been snipped. It’s worthless to me right now. Hip hop to me is at its best when it’s aggressive and at its best when it’s uncompromising. You know, fans of PE and where hip hop came from.

Improv: I have a lot more older hip hop cds than newer ones that’s for sure.

Paris: Just lament the direction that it’s taken right now. I mean pour some liquor out right now for hip hop. This shit is done. Stick a fork in this bitch, as it’s presented in a corporate environment. I mean I could go and shoot $100,000 video and attempt to get it played, but it would probably 100 Gs lost. It would be such a roll of the dice and wouldn’t be prudent financially. It makes more sense for me to focus on forthcoming projects and continue to build out with Guerilla Funk and that community. A feature I’m going to offer soon is something that will allow people to have their own customizable Guerilla Funk homepage. Kinda like Yahoo, my yahoo.

Improv: Have you thought about somebody doing videos? (Like Tori Amos used her website to have a fan video contest)

Paris: I’m going these videos with GNN, but it’s pretty much going to focus on issues that need to be covered right now, allocating resources. The videos talking about for instance, Sierra Leone diamond trade, police brutality and that kind of thing. I wanna be sure that those get the light of day first. The music is always gonna be here as long as I keep putting it down the way people expect me to. As far as the future of it, I wanna put DVDs out. I’m gonna start Guerilla Funk Film Works that will enable me to shoot direct digital full length feature films and distribute them traditionally. I can actually distribute them traditionally. For instance, any place you might see Ice-T in it, shit, he seems to be in every fuckin’ independent release. (Laughs)

Improv: It seems like it, that’s for sure.

Paris: Yeah. Something like that, but to be able to control the content, you know, I can do the music and I can present the artists they way I think they need to be presented. I think that there is a lot of waste. When all is said and done, I don’t really give a fuck about what your video looks like. Unless you have a DVD and it’s a movie I don’t really give a shit about what your song video looks like. That too me is just…

Improv: Yeah, you know, I grew up with MTV, but I don’t care about videos either. I mean I love to go to the movies and you know, a thoughtful complete thing.

Paris: You know, I’m not bumpin’ your video in the car. Music has to be number one. I’m really making an effort to make sure quality product is consistent coming out of my camp. That’s really why I want to grab hold of the reigns of a PE project, man. I really love that concept and I think that logo is one of a kind. I think there are hella supporters out there who would embrace a top notch PE project, not saying what they’ve done hasn’t been top notch, but coming from someone who is really as anal as I am in the studio, you know. And to get down and really get the best out of everybody that I can. No disrespect to anybody else. And I think they’ve been doing really phenomenal for a long time, but I would just love to be able to put my two cents in. 

Improv: Chuck’s idea about the practicalities of recycling make sense because people who are say, 16 years old, that don’t have a history with Public Enemy, to have a live version of Fight the Power to go along with the new songs, really give people a sense, you know, that…they’re not a fad.

Paris: Nah. Far from a fad. I mean they’ve gone through different incarnations, different distributors…like I have. I’ve gone through a whole lotta shit in my career. I’ve been down with hella different labels. This to me is where I’ve always wanted to be. And like I was saying, with videos back in the day, videos really were people’s introduction to the artist. They didn’t really have anything else other than the record, and often times had to wait a year until the next record was out before finding out what was going on with that artist, unless they saw ’em live. And the internet allows me to interact with people in real time, damn near. I can put information that I think is relevant out. I can hit people with shit. 

Improv: I love that about the web. That immediate gratification, things going on in mass media and things going on in the world happen so fast that by you get something out there it’s old news. Or it’s too late.
That’s something that’s a nice equalizer about the real time phenomenon of the internet. 

Paris: It’s good, whoever you can be on board with. Like I said, I got hella supporters on the Enemy Board and the feeling is mutual believe me. 

Improv: So people still constantly tell me that the media has a liberal spin to it so when I saw the Reagan mini-series within a week of people calling out saying ‘it’s unacceptable’ or ‘it paints a bad legacy of Reagan’ all of the sudden they drop it, within a week. So I would consider that to be evidence. 

Paris: But still show that Jessica Lynch lie. So that let’s you know right there. Exactly. There are no liberal or left leaning talking heads. There are none. The closest you get is Geraldo. 

Improv: Yeah, I was telling my wife that to me the evidence that they liberals don’t control the media is that if they did, I wouldn’t have to see Rush Limbaugh’s face. Or Bill O’Reilly.

Paris: Sean Hannity. Ann Coulter. Or the Beltway Boys.

Improv: They would be nowhere to be seen.

Paris: Or Dennis Miller’s sellout ass. I think Dennis Miller’s gonna run for office.

Improv: Yikes.

Paris: No shit.

Improv: That is strange.

Paris: There’s an example of somebody who has profited from this shit to the fullest. I hear people talking about how I’m capitalizing on tragedy with Sonic Jihad. They can eat a fuckin’ dick man. Sonic Jihad is a hard sell through traditional channels, even though hella people feel how I feel. Unlike Toby Keith. 

Improv: To me, with him, that’s what it boils down to exactly. The Dixie Chicks say something they believe in, informed, not informed, whatever the situation is, right? And because they disagree with him he tells them they should stick to being entertainers, but everything he does is so political. 

Paris: You know a lot of people will tell you ‘I don’t want to be involved in politics’ and ‘I’m not political,’ but that in and of itself is political. You saying you don’t want to be involved in politics are saying you don’t want to be involved in it is to me saying you condone the way things are and that you don’t have a problem with the way things are. I mean that’s a very political statement in and of itself.

Improv: My argument would be that you are involved whether you realize it or not.

Paris: Everything is politicized. You don’t have any choice but to have a political opinion about something, when you are confronted with 25 hours a day of terror footage, ‘all terror all the time,’ Fox, NBC and CNN. 

Improv: Do you think being from the Bay Area that proportionate feeling?

Paris: Hell yeah, because there is so much diversity. 

Improv: Well also there is a legacy of questioning the status quo.

Paris: Well not so much to me, because they’re a legacy of questioning the status quo no matter where you’re from, but the fact that there are so many people coming from so many walks of life out here. Being able to break bread with people from all races and…different opinions and people who are involved in different things. And plus I’m really well traveled and I’ve been in a lot of places globally that have afforded me the opportunity to make rational observations about the things, the way they are. 

Improv: I really enjoy reading Chuck D’s when he posts when Public Enemy is on tour, I enjoy reading his reports about what’s going on in the rest of the world because I know that it’s truthful and it definitely reflects what I would like to know from the rest of the world. Because the thing is, even from the selfish point of view of what’s in it for America, people don’t seem to realize that if we alienated the whole rest of the world that’s not good for us aside from what it does for those people. 

Paris: Right, well and there it is. And you see kind of with what the climate is, over there. The fucking world hats us. Everybody but Israel hates us. 

Improv: And by counterpoint when you travel the world you find like minded people that wanna accompany you, and say ‘what’s going on?’

Paris: And you also find people saying ‘if you hate America so much why don’t you lump it or leave it?’ I hear that shit all the time. Without completely missing the point that a) no matter where you are people are going to be opposed to oppression and b) if you go somewhere else chances are you are going to feel American oppression worse. It don’t make no sense to go anywhere else. It’s blatantly un-American not to question the system. 

Improv: If somebody says to me, ‘if you don’t like it you should go somewhere else,’ it’s like thanks to you I can’t.

Paris: It’s more American to question the system than it is not to.

Improv: Tell me about the production of the new record, I know with a lot of solo artists, they seem to be unable to put out a whole record without a lot of guests and with your record there is not a lot of guests and I can sit through the whole record.

Paris: Thank you. I know with a lot of artists…I hate compilation sounding records. I can’t stand it and it’s like a gumbo. All of those records are interchangeable with other records. Hip hop is personal to me. (Laughs). If you haven’t figured that out, hip hop is personal. I’ve been doing the production, and it’s trial and error. I’m at the point now where I feel as confident as any of the top producers in the business about getting down and making it cohesive and that’s how it supposed to be. When I grew up listening to music, you know P-Funk and Cameo, Rick James and the Bar-Kays, you know, all the music that was unforgiving. You had to have talent to get down. You had to shit or get of the pot. You didn’t have all these ghost writers, who control an entire industry. A handful of people controlling an entire industry, where tracks are interchangeable like R&B tracks. Mariah and Whitney and Celine Dion. All those people in between all sound the same. There was a Diane Warren special on TV the other night. She’s a really famous ballad writer. Hella prolific. Dial her in. (She’s @ www.realsongs.com) She wrote for Cher. There’s someone who has a career that a lot of people could envy. It’s an example of what’s wrong with people in music right now. You can’t have three or four camps controlling an entire industry, with everybody trying to get like that. For me to do it personally, to make musical beds that are crafted specifically to compliment my voice and taking all these things into consideration to make the project better. That’s why when I get into the mindset of doing the PE record I’m going to approach that shit as though I were in the Bomb Squad. Bomb Squad 2004. And really put the sizzle to that shit and have it knockin’ and have it be a sonic assault. Sonic Jihad part two. 

Check out Paris’ music and newsworthy counterpoints @:

Interview by:
C. J. Higgs

Read Part 1 of the Interview.

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