There is, thank God, a wave of youngsters who've reclaimed rap from the legions of ignorant poseurs. At least there is in the Twin Cities. MC Brihanu took a minute, right after the release of their debut CD Oppression, Anger, Awareness, Organize, Mobilize, Reclaim Freedom to talk with Insight News. There is, thank God, a wave of youngsters who've reclaimed rap from the legions of ignorant poseurs. At least there is in the Twin Cities. We've got Truth Maze, Toki Wright, Dessa, Desdamona and now, MC Brihanu of Junkyard Empire. Vulgarity, misogyny, Neanderthal narcissism – you don't find it here. We are talking true old-school, the way The Last Poets and Sugar Hill Gang threw down. The personnel are MC Brihanu, founder Cox on trombone and keys, and Jaime Delzer (sax), Tony Blonigan (guitar), Ben "The Fury" Shaffer (bass) and Adam Katz (drums). And everybody knows what they're doing.
MC Brihanu took a minute, right after the release of their debut CD Oppression, Anger, Awareness, Organize, Mobilize, Reclaim Freedom to talk with Insight News.
INSIGHT NEWS: Why are you front man for a white band?
MC BRIHANU: I don't look at Junkyard Empire as a white band. We play into the hands of the people oppressing us when we make divisions of any kind, whether it's by race, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, etc. We all face the struggle, so we all need to unite and battle the small amount of people that control everything. I am an African person, so I speak for African people, but I also speak for anyone going through the struggle and anyone who wants to make this world a better place.
IN: How'd this happen?
MCB: A good friend of mine, Roosevelt Mansfield [RDM of The Abstract Pack], saw an ad for an MC with political content. He heard some of my stuff and thought I'd be a good fit. I checked out the band and it was a cool vibe. I liked the music, so I did a few shows with them and the rest is history.
IN: What made you answer the ad?
MCB: I was part of a hip-hop group in Philadelphia, where I'm from, called Biomimic Productions. When I moved out here to the Twin Cities in 2004 I had basically given up on making music. I answered the ad because I still felt the fire to be an MC and I still had something to get off my chest.
IN: How has the experience been?
IN: Don't avant garde jazz and hip-hop make an excellent match?
MCB: Avant garde jazz and hip-hop are soul mates. Jazz was looked at as the music of the poor and disenfranchised. It tested the boundaries of society and pushed people out of their comfort level. Max Roach and even Coltrane used it to make statements about society as well. Hip-hop has followed the same path. [It's] the jazz of today.
IN: Why you don't do "that knuckle-draggin' ho" this and that, "I'm da baddest m.f. ever wore his drawers crooked" -style spoken word?
MCB: That's just not me. I can't sit by and watch while people glorify the genocide that's happening in our community. It's sad that ninety percent of what's out there today is a lot of garbage MCs talking about something that they have no understanding of and that gets pawned off as hip-hop. There is a difference between being a talented MC that opens people's eyes to life in the ghetto and the struggles of poor people and some buffoon that has no knowledge of their culture and thinks hip-hop is about intimidation and misogyny.
IN: What drives the content of your lyrics?
MCB: There are too many people suffering and too few people that have power. I am a socialist and believe that capitalism is a disgrace to humanity.
IN: What does your wife think of what you're doing with your career?
MCB: My wife Hellina has been with me for about tw