Thursday, September 19, 2013

Intersected Voices: Hearing the Roar of Krip Hop Nation

Some interviews are worth the wait and leave you wanting more. This is one of them. 
“LEROY F. MOORE JR., is a Black disabled writer, poet, community activist, and feminist. Leroy is the author of a spoken word CD and chapbook entitled Black Disabled Man with a Big Mouth & a High IQ, and his poems and articles have appeared in numerous publications. His film-based collaboration with Todd Herman on disability and sexuality resulted in the internationally award-winning work Forbidden Acts. Leroy lectures regularly on the intersection of race and disability and is the founder of the Krip-Hop Project, which produces hip-hop mixtapes featuring disabled hip-hop artists from around the world.
Moore is also the co-founder and community relations director of Sins Invalid, a performance project on disability and sexuality that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized from social discourse. His film-based collaboration with Todd Herman on disability and sexuality resulted in the internationally award-winning work Forbidden Acts.”    -  Speak Out

Image of Leroy Moore in a  sitting room, with a sofa table and lamp to his left and french doors in the background directly behind him, dressed in a black tuxedo with plum colored matching vest and bow tie looking left towards a speaker outside of the picture frame. Image by Pamela Juhl Photography

Thanks so much for doing the interview! The “Disabled/Profiled”, the collaboration you did with Keith Jones, particularly moved me. But, I don’t want to jump ahead of myself in this interview. For those who don’t know, please tell us how the Krip Hop project evolved from a 3 part series on KPFA's Pushing Limits to where you are today.

 Leroy:  Thanks for the time!  Yes Disabled Profiled is a deep song..  Krip-Hop Nation came out of my life experiences, my activism, my love of music and critiquing what society feeds us. I knew that there were musicians with disabilities from Blues to todays Hip-Hop but there was and still is a lack of advocacy/educational platform to not only share this education but to advocate the ablest, sexist and homophobia in the music industry and in the underground.  The  three-part series n KPFA come out an idea for showing the community and Hip-Hop world that Hip-Hop artists with disabilities are here and are political.  At that time I was involved with Pushing Limit, a radio show focusing on people with disabilities.  I came up with the show focusing on five Hip-Hop artists with all types of disabilities.  Since that radio series Krip-Hop Nation has form with over two hundred members with a core that keeps work going.  Krip-Hop Nation had always been international with an arm called Mcees With Disabilities.  We all met on social networks and stay in contact that way.  We have been on college campuses, put out three CDs, attend DAADA Festival in the UK and been in newspapers/magazines in Italy, Canada, South Africa, UK and the US.  Now we’ve loose chapters in UK, Germany and South Africa.  Next year we will be in Toronto Canada in April at Abilities Art Festival and planning an Africa Krip-Hop Tour.

How do you feel that Krip Hop will break the image barrier that is built into today’s Hip Hop culture?

 Leroy:  Hip-Hop culture has changed since the beginning in the 80s where it was more open and had many disabled artists on street corners.  Today because its so mainstream and institutionalized it has become something that takes on what is media acceptable leaving out a huge portion of us.  Some Hip-Hop artists play disability like Lady Gaga and Drake but Krip-Hop Nation reminds people that people with disabilities has always been in music and we try to correct how Hip-Hop cultural today use us in discriminatory ways in lyrics, music videos, in Hip-Hop journalism and put out our own message for example our latest CD talks about police brutality against people with disabilities.  We have held a landmark conference in 2009 bring Krip-Hop artists and Homo-Hop aka queer artists together.  Also we all know that Krip-Hop Nation can’t compete with all the resources, media and bling bling of “mainstream Hip-Hop” however our voice has done great work and made people think about what is Hip-Hop/Music/Art and how to talk about it.  Today there are so many people with disabilities writing blogs like you and creating avenues that not only give a stage like Sins Invalid but also change the talk around art, justice, who is on panels and who is in the media etc..  Krip-Hop Nation is internationally connecting stories around the world lifting our lyrics.  Breaking barriers is not only getting into the mainstream or being on tv or getting laws pass but can also be holding community event, writing blogs, books, singing because all of that adds up to the bigger picture and gives a platform for many voice putting disability art/cultural in the mix….

Do you feel the Internet and the state of computer sound systems is part of any possible breakthrough?

Leroy: Yes and no.  Yes Krip-Hop Nation was born on the Internet but at the same time we can’t ever put all our eggs in only one basket.  We know that not everyone is on the Internet and nothing is like face to face..  When I met Binki Woi when I was in Germany that was the foundation of what we are working on in Krip-Hop Nation.  When Krip-Hop Nation does workshops we can see and feel our work making a change.  The Internet has brought journalism and connection back to the people and has brought news that doesn’t make it on 6 o’clock news to our international communities.  The Internet in my work has got into places where I was locked out. 

Remembering the outcry when drummer Rick Allen rejoined Def Leppard playing a customized drum set, do you feel that part of the Krip Hop Nation project is to make apparent that talented disabled musicians have always been there and their contributions are not being recognized?

Leroy:  Yes and before Rick Allen we have big band jazz drummer, Chick Webb who had a disability in the 1920’s and before that we had blah blah.  So we have our own history, music and goes beyond tactics of “see me see me” but to say we are doing all of this before record labels and we are going way beyond recognition to celebrate ourselves and create our own bling bling that we own on our terms.  Yes it will be good if we can make a living from our art/activism and we can learn from Blind Blues Artists, Curtis Mayfield and others that own their own success and used the oppressors to get our own.  However this doesn’t mean that we can’t work together.  What is so sad is today a lot of artists disabled or not don’t work together compared to back in the Blues.  For me I don’t want the mainstream to “discover Krip-Hop Nation” that’s when your voice is hushed….  Yes recognize us but more important listen and incorporate our politics.

Do you find the automatic assumption that Blind musicians are included therefore the music industry is inclusive of all the disabled community a greater barrier to overcome than if that inclusion was not there?

Leroy: I don’t think Blind musicians are fully accepted in the music industry without a big fight. Even Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder ran into ableism when they started out. A lot of Blind Blues artists got ripped off and can we named three mainstream blind women musicians? Yes blindness has a history in our music but I like your readers to buy and read Terry Rowden’s book, The Songs of Blind Folk: African American Musicians and the Culture of Blindness. In Hip-Hop I can count on one hand mainstream well known Blind Hip-Hop artists. I think the question should be is how the music industry got used to blindness so what will make them get used to other disabilities? However in these days we don’t need labels. We also got to realize that Blindness is easy to cover up for mainstream media with sunglasses etc. compare to other physical disabilities. There are many stories of musicians with polio who were told that they had to sit at a piano and sing and not on their crutches thus trying to hide their disability. I think the music industry along with the whole entertainment field has not follow disability rights/disability cultural movements because artists are not seen as employees they are 9 times out of 10 long term independent contractors or such forth. However as Hip-Hop multi millionaires set up businesses that’s disability laws come to play as many artists witness Google it.

How do you see Krip Hop Nation’s international future?

 Leroy: Our international future and now is hot?  Since our first mixtape back in 2006 we always  had international artists who share our politics and mission.  Our future is to build new Krip-Hop Nation chapters around the world.  Like I mentioned above Krip-Hop Nation will be in Toronto for Abilities Arts Festival in April 2014.  Our Africa networking has increased from Zimbabwe to South Africa with news articles and working with key artists to build up to Krip-Hop Nation Africa tour and we hope that the United Nations and other organizations will come on board in 2015 or 16.  November 2014 Krip-Hop Nation will be in Liverpool, UK for DADA Festival.   We would love to be apart of a school in Africa to teach Krip-Hop Nation.

Ok back to you, Keith Jones, and how Disabled/Profiled came to be. It is so different in flow and movement and touches a chord with me. It needed to be said. The intersection of disability and race has a voice that is not being heard.

Leroy:  Disabled Profiled happened because of our experiences of being profiled in two different states and also we are more than artists we are activists who are Black men with disabilities.  I’ve followed/organized around police brutality against people with disabilities for more than 15 years.  A lot of police brutality/profiling cases are against Black/Brown people but disabled profiled is nothing new and has hitting our community more often.  Hip-Hop artists from NWA, Ice T to Paris rap about police brutality but it took Krip-Hop Nation and 5th Battalion with DJ Quad to put out, Police Brutality Profiling Mixtape on people with disabilities.  Keith and I have known each other for a long time and always talk about racism in the disabled community.  Keith is also into policies and politics.  We were at the democratic convention in Boston in 2004 and talked about Krip-Hop Nation and how disabled Hip-Hop artists are discriminated against in Hip-Hop arena.  I have to say the song is powerful.  Keith produced the song and we wrote the song together.  I hope more artists come forth and rap their truth.

What advice do you have for young disabled musicians and poets out there who may not have confidence to step out and be heard?

Leroy: Read and watch other disabled musicians/poets.  Find out what interest you and know it inside out.  Being on stage is only one thing but if you know how to organized and plan its ok to be behind the scene and pull the strings.  Practice  practice.  Be around people who not only support you but will also push you at the same time.  Know you and feel comfortable in your shoes.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  If you can experience different communities, please do…..
Leroy I’d love to have you back to talk more about your work as an activist.  Meanwhile, where can people hear the Krip Hop Nation and see performances?

Leroy:  Thank you for the opportunity.  Below are some links

Krip-Hop Nation uses hip-hop to expose disability issues

February 12, 2012 at 10:57 PM | Allie Choy

Binki Woi music page

first full coverage (3Pgs in color with photos) of Krip-Hop Nation back in 2007 in an Italian newspaper.

Binki’s music page

Diversifying Hip Hop: Krip Hop and Homo Hop

Krip-Hop Nation in Seattle Performance

Krip-Hop Nation in Seattle Police Brutality workshop

Jake & Juako song for Krip-Hop

King Kaution song for Krip-Hop

Krip-Hop Homo-Hop on KPFA

In 2006 Pushing Limits - Krip Hop Meets Homo Hop
"When conference producer Leroy F Moore Jr announced the first-ever meeting of disabled and queer hip hop artists, reactions ranged from puzzlement to hate mail. But, artists like B-Sick, Brett Silver Tru Bloo  [Nyla}, Juba Kalamka Great Scott, D.J. Quad, Jesse Djquad Morin and Miss Money showed up for this ground-breaking event. The frank discussion in these excerpts from an afternoon panel gives a flavor of this historic meeting of the musical minds." Host: Adrienne Lauby.

Krip-Hop  Rob Da' Noize Temple & Leroy Moore on NY WBAI's 99.5 FM Wake Up Call Show back in 2002 Music from Rob, Leroy, Namel TapWaterz Norris of 4 Wheel City, Swayne Radio-duck Martin.  Krip-Hop back in 2000 in NY Thanks to Mitch Jeserich who use to work at WBAI back then

DJ Quad song, Who's Gonna Stop Them - Feat Lalah  for PBP Mixtape

King Montana shout out to Krip-Hop

Kayln Homophobia in Hip-Hop

Kaylyn Krip-Hop event at NYU

Krip-Hop in University of Washington

Police Brutality Where Is Hope Doc promo

Free Neli Latson song by Kounterclockwise

George TrAgIC song for Neli  Dear Lisa

Professir X  Cruel-Tality Video

Professir X talks about PBP CD

Krip-Hop on Stoney Speaks
Part 2

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