We are all “one sole” as we make our way through life. Whether we’re talking about the concept of the figurative or literal soul, or even the individual sole, it’s all about finding, making, and accepting our place in the world. On this episode of The Axiom Amnesia Theory, Heit & Cheri welcome another soul–the dynamic emcee/rapper/Hip Hop artist sole–to the show for a discussion about his upcoming album and lots more…
Topics discussed include the pros and cons of social networking, sole’s upcoming album “A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing,” how sole got his start in music, album fundraising, voting and the political process, local politics, Occupy Wall Street, and more!
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- Heit & Cheri are joined by Rapper/emcee/hip hop artist sole. Cheri mentions that the first song she’d heard by sole was “I Think I’m Noam Chomsky.”
- It is exciting that technology allows people to be so accessible. People can reach out to musicians and other artists via social networks. This has its advantages and drawbacks.
- It brings people closer together in many ways and it breaks down the mystique of musicians. sole says that the negative aspects are the triviality of it all–people taking pictures of their food. sole said, “I think we’re lonelier now even though we’re all connected.” He also talks about artists putting more energy into Twitter than they do their art, and he finds this disgusting. He calls the connectivity through social media a “triple-edged sword.”
- Discussion about some of the frivolous things people do on social networks to gain attention. Many times creating an online presence becomes this all-consuming thing.
- Discussion about the time and energy it takes to maintain social media accounts–like being caught in a technology loop.
- Discussion about the challenge artists have in reaching people, yet not losing sight of the art while trying to get more people to hear their message.
- Discussion about the “noise” created by social media.
- Discussion about Facebook memes, and the usefulness of social interactions online.
- Discussion about sole’s new album, “A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing,” being funded by Kickstarter.
- sole discusses the dilemma he had in trying to fund his album. He didn’t want to create debt, and he didn’t think shopping a demo would work. So, he decided to experiment with using Kickstarter as a method of raising funds for the album. He credits his success in raising 10K to fund the album and have the quality of production he desired. As an indie artist, he feels that this is more money than he would have made from solely selling the album after it was released. He likes this method because it enables people to support things the way that they want. He recounts how one donor put $1,000 up to support the album, expecting nothing in return. He simply wanted to support the project.
- Discussion about whether sole felt any extra pressure in making an album that people had donated to fund. He says he did feel more pressure, in part because this is the most “belligerent” album that he has made to date.
- sole explains that even his wife thought the album was “crazy.”
- sole discusses his choice to have the album mixed by a high-quality studio over hiring a publicist for the album.
- sole explains that the title of the album comes from an essay that Karl Marz wrote, “A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing.” He relates this idea to the Occupy Wall Street movement and his involvement. This album is a diary of what he went through with Occupy.
- sole discusses how he started with music. His early influences were Fat Boys, Beastie Boys, and Run DMC. He had a cousin who he’d write rhymes for, and eventually that turned into rapping with his friends and using the various technologies they had at the time to make music. They eventually had success in talent shows when he was 13, then he was able to record his first demo at 14. Jermaine Dupree’s label heard him and wanted to sign him, but that fell through. After that he became bitter about record labels. He started pressing up tapes and selling them at the mall after that. He later sold them on the Internet, then people started reaching out. This is what helped to form the foundation for the independent record label Anticon. From there he just kept going.
- Discussion about the song, “I think I’m Noam Chomsky,” and the rference to being a white rapper.
The Emperor is half-black
So in Hip-Hop I can only half-criticize
- sole discusses the various aspects of being a white rapper in hip hop and talking about the issues that he brings up in music and elsewhere. He mentions that “white privilege” needs to be acknowledged. He also discusses how some white rappers take things to such an extreme that they want to separate themselves from being white. He feels that his experience of being a white rapper is very different. He recounts how he was the only white kid at his school shopping in Boston and wearing Cross Colour clothes (popular in hip hop at that time). He also discusses not using his image on his music when he first came out because he wanted people to judge the music on its merit, and not his race.
- sole discusses coming out with a song about Obama when he was elected. He discusses voting for Obama and believing him at the time. He realized that he needed to make a song about the fact that his supporters never seemed to be critical of him:
- sole discusses the idea that a Black president is historic, yet should we have no criticism of him because his election to this position was historic? He explains that people were really pissed off by the song. sole acknowledges that it is always tricky to talk about race.
- Discussion about Obama and drone strikes being things that ought to be criticized. It takes courage to speak the truth about someone who is popular. Some people saw Obama’s election as a civil rights issue, and feel like people should just shut up and be happy that there is a Black president.
- sole discusses white hip hop journalists who give him harsh criticisms. He feels that many of them take “white guilt” to such an extreme that they are overly critical of his art.
- What is “white boying”? sole defines it as using race as a way of trying to diminish what he is doing.
- Discussion about how people sometimes choose to give a harder time to people who are the same race, so that people will not accuse them of preferential treatment. They feel like doing this gives them more credibility.
- We all have to address race, and this is something that cannot be ignored in America.
- In his statement on “A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing,” sole mentions being able to do what he wants because he works for himself:
- sole discusses what gave him the courage to step out as his own boss. He explains that both of his parents had their own businesses, so he grew up in an environment where the idea of working for yourself wasn’t an abstract idea. His parents encouraged that in him.
- sole discusses how with his involvement with Anticon in 1999, he thought that he would get rich. He also started reading a lot of radical things, and he realized that he didn’t like owning his friends music and being their boss. Consequently they turned the label into a collective. What actually happened was the people who ran the label became comfortable as decision makers, while the artists became “broker and broker.” He referred to this dynamic as Animal Farm. The people in charge didn’t take pay cuts, but the artists were pretty poor by that time. He decided to sue the label and took back all of his masters. He was sick of others getting all the money. After his income increased as a result, he didn’t have to work a separate job. It gave him a nice foundation to have the freedom to do whatever he wanted to do.
- sole talks about the need to believe in yourself to make these kinds of things happen.
- sole learned a lot living in Spain, discussing how people don’t work the same number of hours as people in the United States. There were so many people who had small businesses.
- Discussion about there not being any security in working for corporations. sole thinks you’re better off working for yourself, and if it fails it’s all on you. With the corporation, you could get cut at anytime through no fault of your own.
- Discussion about the corporate influence on politics and how they are used by political parties for the agendas of the corporations.
- Discussion about the Occupy movement. Many had hoped that the movement would become like the Tea Party movement for Democrats.
- Discussion about voting and the exclusion of third-party candidates. sole thinks that if you want to change your life, you need to work on changing your circumstances with people in your environment. Voting won’t bring this about.
- Discussion about corporatism’s concern about money in the short term, but in the long term what will happen when there are no consumers on the moon? What is the point of the short term financial gain if the earth is destroyed in the process?
- Discussion about political leadership, and the celebrity culture and idol worship. It dis-empowers everyone. All of this energy is put into the celebrity fashion show of the presidential election.
- sole says he will probably vote for Jill Stein, but he believes in activity in the streets. He draws inspiration from what he sees in other countries when people take to the streets.
- Discussion about a statement made on sole’s Facebook page:
“…There are so many flaws with our form of government, everything from the electoral college, to the lack of run off elections to corporate influence on our government… I’ve become real convinced that the very title of “president” reinforces the idol worship / hierarchical mentality that disempowers people… there are other ways to organize a society than worshiping leaders and fighting over false choices… ”
Source: sole’s Facebook Page
- Is the choice to vote for someone better than to abstain from the process? sole thinks that it doesn’t hurt anything to go ahead and vote for someone when it is easy enough to do. But, his anarchist views give him the understanding that the vote is not the thing that is most important. He makes the point that some people think reproductive rights and gay rights are enough reason alone to vote. For him, this is not enough. sole explains wanting to vote for Jill Stein after having the opportunity to spend some time with her.
- Heit says that he would vote for Cheri.
- Discussion about the notion that voting and participation in the process validates the system that is so wrong.
- Discussion about live tweeting the debates. It is important to address the issues that people have and to point out the hypocrisy. This is a part of raising awareness about what’s going on and how it feeds into the mainstream dialogue.
- Discussion about the importance of local politics, and how people have a better chance of affecting change locally. These changes also have more of a direct effect on your lifestyle.
- sole gives the example of a ban on homeless people sleeping outside in Denver, where he lives.
- sole mentions that Citizen’s United is on the ballot in Colorado.
- Discussion about it being better if people can vote for the issues directly, instead of relying on representatives to vote for them. The whole reason this was adopted was because there was the issue of communication that doesn’t exist anymore due to technological advances. Imagine the apps that would be invented to help people vote on every issue if we had that kind of system.
- sole mentions a lecture by David Graeber, “On Bureaucratic Technologies & the Future as Dream-Time.”
- He points our that it is insulting to people’s intelligence to deny people the ability to govern themselves. So many times we find that the public is against something, but the representatives vote how they want to.
- sole will be touring a lot this year. Visit his website soleOne.org and sign up for his email newsletter for details.
- sole’s new album is set for release on November 13th, and you can listen to some of the singles from the album before it drops on his website.
- sole plans on launching a philosophy talk show in December.
- You can find sole on Facebook, Twitter, and on his website at soleOne.org