THE CORNEL WEST THEORY / “the Cornel West theory Mixtape”
On the popular tip, is contemporary conscious music dead? Hibernating? On vacation? In exile? What?
Here we have a six-member DC-based hip-hop band inspired by the ideas of Cornel West, who is one of America’s most popular public intellectuals. They have one album (Second Rome), and a Mixtape (In Her Hands: Embryo Capital Vol. 1). This could be a P.E. class—not Public Enemy but rather Political Education, but then again Public Enemy was political education. Unfortunately, for a long, long minute, there has not been another band in the PE bag.
To be clear, by the PE bag I mean both overtly political and cutting edge aesthetically. PE had both sense and sound. The Bomb Squad (Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee, Chuck D, Eric “Vietnam” Sadler, and Gary G-Wiz) set hip-hop standards not just for subject matter but also for how a song can sound. The Cornel West theory is obviously headed in a PE direction. They are on top of declaiming political insights and are still growing in terms of their sound. It is not easy to achieve mastery at both.
So, praise and encouragement to the Cornel West theory for attempting the difficult. Here are member bios taken from their website:
//tim hicks (lead emcee)
Tim provides the groove for the Cornel West theory as lead vocalist and chief producer. He started the band in 2004 and was so moved by the writings and philosophies held by Dr. Cornel West that he thought it only fitting to name the band in honor of such scholarship. A Washington, D.C. native, Tim has performed as a hip-hop artist since 1998. His musical influences include Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Pete Rock, DJ Premier and J Dilla.
//katrina lorraine starr (storyteller)
Katrina is the Cornel West theory's griot. She is a performance artist and storyteller whose expression provides a literary foundation for the music. A native of Washington, D.C., she attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and has been active in the performance arts community since 2000. As a storyteller and author, her work has been inspired by Octavia Butler, Esmeralda Santiago, Storm Constantine, Sobonfu Some’, Nina Simone, Odetta, and Abbey Lincoln.
//rashad dobbins (emcee)
Rashad coined the phrase Type 1 to describe the Cornel West theory’s musical genre. The band’s music is fused with accents of hip-hop, rock and jazz, and therefore needed a classification of its own. A graduate of D.C.'s Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Rashad has gripped microphones – as a poet and emcee – since the mid-90s. His musical influences – from Wu Tang Clan to Bad Brains to Backyard to John Coltrane – shape his mind-bending verses. His lyrics ask listeners to think beyond typical emcee banter and unlock the creativity and power in their minds.
//yvonne gilmore (spoken word)
Yvonne provides a spiritual base for the band as a poet and ordained minister. She is a student of the prophetic tradition and is currently pastor of New Song Community Church in Columbus, Ohio. A native of Washington, D.C., she is artistically motivated by the tradition of justice, scholarship, improvisation and resistance of sacred prophets, writers, jazz men and women, and blues men and women that came before us. Her words remind us of the power of poetry. She is always reminded of Luke 17:21 “… For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”
//john wesley moon (vocals/sound)
John keeps the Cornel West theory sonically in line with electronic sound manipulation and lending his voice as an emcee. A native of Washington, D.C., John has performed as a vocalist since 1998 and electronic musician since 2003. Artists such as Jean Michel Basqiaut, Eric Dolphy, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Jimi Hendrix have influenced his avant-garde sensibilities and musical ear.
//sam lavine (drums)
Sam keeps the Cornel West theory in time with his go-go inspired pocket drumming. His father gave him his first drum kit in 1995 and it’s been fire ever since. He should have expected it. His grandmother played the drums. A native Washingtonian, he draws his hard-thumping style from go-go bands such as Backyard, and has been creatively inspired by percussionists such as Nirvana’s Dave Grohl and Fugazi’s Brendan Canty.
Their Mixtape is available as a free download. A new album is due shortly. Until then, enjoy!
—Kalamu ya Salaam
the Cornel West theory Mixtape Playlist
In Her Hands: Embryo Capital Vol. 1
02 “Nigga Breath”
05 “Hustler's Boogie”
06 “THE BLACK HOLE”
07 “Second Rome”
08 “Knights of the East & West”
09 “Second Rome (revisited)”
10 “An Analysis on Language by Dr. West”
11 “Omega Cross”
12 “Would you Kill?”
This entry was posted on Monday, October 25th, 2010 at 4:43 pm and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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