JASIRI X ARTIST STATEMENT
My art is activism; you cannot separate the two. In the beginning stages of my career, I would write about situations I was passionate about based upon news articles and a sense of empathy for those personally impacted by acts of injustice. As I have grown artistically and have begun to personally connect with some of the families that have lost their own children to injustices I have created music around, such as Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and Jordan Davis, I am moved by the intimate knowledge of the pain experienced by not only the families, but the specific details of the situations that lead to the death of these modern liberation martyrs and the subsequent exoneration in courts of law of their murders. Each artist has a civic duty. As an artist, I have connected with and embraced this inherent duty, thereby becoming personally involved in and connected to communities throughout the world in the area of social justice.
Art is an extension of the life that you live. For me, creating music is a form of therapy and provides the ability to express myself unhindered, allowing me the forum to share a part of myself, generally reserved, with others. Art should move culture and thought forward, it should represent progress. It should be used in a positive manner to uplift and unify our communities. Over the years, I have done just that. Initially, I began with a weekly Internet news series, which allowed me to hone my lyricism and present relatable news stories on a weekly basis, surrounding specific incidences. I personally believe that I have grown in that I am able to succinctly share and connect communities around broader issues. Issues such as police brutality, political prisoners, and the criminalization and killing of Black youth, have been detailed and presented via my music. I believe my shift in presentation has aided in raising awareness around many issues in the movement toward social justice. Every revolution has a soundtrack and I personally believe my music is that soundtrack.
Prior to starting 1Hood Media Academy, I believed my music would motivate people who would hear, in broader sense, garnering accolades from people who did not necessarily have to do more that hit play on the screen or their phones. Now, I believe my music motivates on a more intimate level, influencing young artists to make better decisions in their individual lives and inspiring them towards personal responsibility in the culture of their communities. With art, I am striving to swing the pendulum of music towards something that would encourage young people to set the goals of being educated, intelligent, and better decision makers. Over the years, I have grown from posting a video on the Internet to presenting at Harvard University about what I posted on the Internet.
As I move along in life, my artistic endeavors always reflect my perception of the life I lead. Now, as opposed to when I first picked up the mic, I’m striving to live an uplifting life positively impacting the community. I am an organizer and a worker in my community and my art reflects that passion. I create, while being honest and thoughtful about self, family, and society. I strive to incorporate themes of unity, personal responsibility, education, intelligence, and cultural awareness throughout my work. I teach through the mic, refusing to be “fed” or produce something without critically analyzing it, whether in my personal, professional or scholastic endeavors. This is a stark contrast to musical endeavors as a youth under different pseudonyms and influences. I am proud of who I have become…an activist and an artist.
August Wilson utilized his gift of writing by infusing his work with social commentary directly relating to the community he was a part of. He became the modern spokesperson for the community. I aspire to be described similarly; I think when you connect with an artist like me, you are connecting with an artist on the cutting edge of Hip Hop, doing things that have never been done. My understanding and delivery continues to evolve, right down to the cadences I choose to employ. However, I seek to remain committed to universal truths and expand my platforms toward the delivery of such. This is a key advancement I have noted in my career. I have grown in my ability to connect with various people from all over the world, with my music being purchased and shared in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It is truly a humbling experience. I believe this happens, not only because truth resonates across social demographics and is factually universal, but also because my delivery and approach have grown more cosmopolitan.
Through my interaction with youth on a regular basis, my artistry has grown to encompass mentoring youth and other socially conscious artists. I believe that I have obtained the key to encouraging today’s youth by revamping what already of interest to them…mainly Hip Hop. I am able to excite, cultivate and guide the talents that lay dormant inside a seemingly uncultivated mind thereby, not only continuing to create my work, but encouraging an entire generation to cultivate their own gifts and talents. In a world where self esteem is built via likes and shares, the fact that I can create art that resonates with the people in ever growing numbers is incentive to me and those I interact with.
I have been able to hone my skills to know specifically what my fan base desires as well as the means to develop new fans. In addition, my work is an organizing and educational tool. It is the future of design. We are a technology-based society. The attention span is shorter, time is shorter, and families spend less time together. I employ Hip Hop; which is the preferred communication of today’s youth. Hip Hop is everywhere. It sets fashion trends, the slang spoken, the music danced to, and the television watched. I have found that utilizing Hip Hop and media in the unique way of educating, inspiring, and provoking interest in design is a unique concept. The youth are extremely adept in merging technology with education. I serve as a mentor in the process.
A desire to see a better community, a brighter future for our children, and a socially and scholastically educated young populace motivates me to continue to create, as well as be an inspiration, artistically, to those striving for self defined success. When we address the needs of the youth of today; we erase the dilemmas of tomorrow. I believe I can help.