Viva Fidel, ill emcee, and star of the Hip-Hop Kung Fu movie spoke with me about Hip Hop, the Universe and Everything. He is building with a lot of people in many areas, taking a practical approach to educating people about the real culture with an intelligent, political perspective. If you are sleeping, please wake up and pay attention.
Who is Viva Fidel?
Viva Fidel: A bridge builder, a student , a teacher, I could go on.
How's life out there in the Mid West?
Viva Fidel: Life is great, the mid west is an interesting mix of everywhere in one. We're in the middle, so its a perfect launch pad.
How are things going with your group, Taste Emcees? What have you released so far, and what's forthcoming?
Viva Fidel: We stay working! Taste Emcees is an ever growing family, Jae Klassick, G.Murray, King Tone, Armagideon, Pea Jae, P.M, Lil G, Fiery Phoenix and all solo artists and entrepreneurs part of this collective movement. We have released several albums and mixtapes dating back to 2000, recently we dropped a live concert DVD and I have released collaboration projects with King Tone (Powermove) and with Fiery Phoenix (Theory of Relativity). Lil G our youngest leader just released a mixtape (The Warm-Up) he's only 15 years old and he has his own team who are now putting in work and recruiting new "Taste Emcees".
Tell us about the Kung Fu Hip-Hop movie?
Viva Fidel: If I tell you I may have to kill you, Ha! This Hip Hop Kung Fu Movie produced by my good brother Professor Pitt and is gonna blow people's minds! Its totally unlike anything you have ever seen. Iím co-starring as the main character's older brother and I'm highly pissed off that my younger brother "Professor Pitt" .... It's a story of good over evil, betrayal, decisions, it's about the power of hip hop music and our accountability as participants in life itself. It's been in the making for a long time and will be available to the public soon.
There has just been a free soundtrack mixtape released your readers can check that out at: http://piff.me/0a3c1b5 it features myself, Timbo King and Dollarmentary (WuTang Fam), Hiero, and many many, many more... also there is a http://www.youtube.com/mr9billion page where Professor Pitt has produced promo videos for the mixtape songs that are like mini trailers of the flick!!! Of course I have to plug http://www.professorpitt.com check that out to find out more info on the film and how to pre-order it... cant give up too much!
Which artists are you reaching out to for collabs?
Viva Fidel: Top of the year I also released a collab project called "Anti-Exclusive" with a dope producer / emcee / DJ from Chicago N.E.S. Its available on iTunes, I work with a lot of artists, DJs and producers from Chicago big shouts out to Bro. Jitu and Solitaire. I'm currently cooking up something with Producer/Emcee Zin from Houston, I have a project 80% done with Mo'Fire Music a super dope crew from Capetown, South Africa - we released a video called "War Drums" I want people check for...
I'm releasing my official solo album this summer this summer with producer Jay Gee from G Sound Muzik I'm very excited about it our chemistry is gonna surprise people! I'm reaching out to everyone man, I'm open, I'm not scared to put in the work, I want to link with as many international hip hop concert promoters, blogs, artists, DJs and producers as possible and I'm very grateful to be able to say that here on this platform! Any serious interests email me [email protected].
I know you are involved with projects which include other elements, particularly graffiti. Why is it important for people to be aware of the four elements?
Viva Fidel: Its important especially for our youth to be aware , its all about expression of self, we have to promote the artistic freedom in hip hop, everyone can be themselves, there is so much love for individuality in graffiti , so much respect for originality in b-boying / break dancing... that shit is law!! I have always drawn and when I was a youngster, I was spinning on my back, all before I was interested in "rapping" on a microphone. So I think from the perspective that it's all equally important and empowering. Painting, dancing, Deejaying and Emceeing are all the same to me.
What are your views on worldwide hip-hop and particularly the multilingual aspect of the culture, and how has the internet changed the way you operate?
Viva Fidel: I often tell youth and adults in my workshops how hip hop is being used as a unifying tool on a worldwide scale. We are learning about cultures and lifestyles all around the globe , just like in the early days of hip hop how we learned about different neighborhoods and their styles, except now its Brazil, its Japan, its UK. You don't even have to understand the language, you feel the heart...
I always knew it would spread and takeover the planet, its just raw expression and rebellion. And now people who have been shut out for so long have found a way to establish themselves and be heard, that's a universal need, that's part of survival. The net has helped us find each other faster!! Made it possible for me to do tracks with artists all over the world with the push of some buttons! You gotta love it! We must embrace that and link up!
There is no more excuses about getting your music heard, played, seen or sold. You just have to have a plan and some strong follow through, there are so many indie outlets now that its changed the way everyone is doing business, from promotion to just being aware of all the potentials for brand extension, everything is everything online, everyone is watching and tweeting. Everyone is locked in on the mobile devices recording real life shit and uploading it instantly, connecting us all in a weird way. You are one of the few artists actually educating the younger people to the real culture - tell us about that.
Viva Fidel: I grew up in a political , global-community centered household , meaning I was aware and even protesting at an early age not only things like Apartheid and Desert Storm, but local issues like police brutality and unfit schools systems. It was the environment of socially progressive music and events that I grew up in that still motivates me to reach out to the youth and try to help explain some of things they are faced with.
I started an annual event called the "Summer of Peace City Wide Youth Rally" to build a coalition of support for many organizations with common goals in Milwaukee, WI , where I'm from. We engage the community with art, hip hop, and fun stuff while sharing resources, education and hopefully inspiration. I'm all about promoting the positive, so instead of pointing the finger at some of the negative that happens, we try to shed light on some of the great things about our youth and their expressions. They teach me more that I teach them.
With a name like Viva Fidel, you gotta have a fairly political mindset?
Viva Fidel: Yea, my parents branded me "Fidel" at birth so ever since then its been on! I had no choice in the matter haha! Everything is political man, its just a matter of if you are aware or not. I exchange the word "political" for "CRITICAL" for a lot of people, to explain its really just about paying attention! Think! I'm not extra into politics in the CNN or BBC context, I'm about sharing solutions for everyday people... and we all know being black in "Ameri-K-K-K-a" if you speak loudly about solving problems its gets critical and political fast...
What is your view on Obama?
Viva Fidel: President Obama is a great, great mental , physical and spiritual symbol for a people who in this time really needed one. And that's not just black people, that's a hopeless American and world population. I connect his victory to hip hop directly... as well as the new found power of multi media marketing / campaigning... I didn't vote for him... next question...
Here's a fun question: Tell us your top 10 emcees and producers of all time!
Viva Fidel: In no order... Let me name some of my favorite, one of kind, original, canít be duplicated, all time greats: Chuck D from P.E, Scarface, De La, Wise Intelligent from Poor Righteous Teachers, Brother J from X Clan, E-40 , Goodie Mob , then there's so many legends... Producers like DJ Premier , Rico Wade, Rza and Prince Paul have pushed the limits , Shock G from Digital Underground, DJ Quik, love the west coast sounds.
Which artists (outside of hip-hop) can you recommend?
Viva Fidel: I listen to a lot of Reggae, old school Pharoah Sanders, Herbie Hancock, James Brown, Gil Scot Heron, P Funk's collection has endless jams, I recommend the classics.
What is the future of hip-hop?
Viva Fidel: The academic value will be the forefront, we have to remember the hip hop audience and artists are now parents, even grandparents and elders, so I see it struggling to find out how to hold onto its youth but still grow up and be responsibly self contained. Even major artists are looking for ways to become more and more independent from the stranglehold of corporate control and censorship. Hip Hop will always be a very regional thing, we just have to use that to our advantage, even worldwide. Hip Hop has always told the future so, listen to the music to find out whats coming in the future.
Tell us something personal about your experience of hip-hop.
Viva Fidel: I chiefed out with Just-Ice and Kool Herc one time... that was the best "high" ever... lol. Felt unreal... I'm not scared to say it. I'm a hip hop junkie...