Baltimore rapper Eze Jackson sits down with Baltimore hip-hop powerhouse duo Bond St. District to discuss patriotism, race, and the role of art in education.
BONDSTREET: (clip) EZE JACKSON: What’s up, y’all? Welcome to the Whole Bushel. I’m your host, Eze Jackson. The Whole Bushel is an interview show where I sit down with performing artists to discuss issues that matter to them the most. All while sitting down eating crabs the way we do here, in Baltimore, Maryland. Our guest today is Baltimore rap duo Bondstreet District, which consists of Paul Hudson, the producer, and DDM the MC. Thanks for joining us, fellas. PAUL HUDSON: Hey, thanks for having us, appreciate it. DDM: Yeah man. Thanks, Eze. EZE JACKSON: How y’all like that, y’all enjoy that? DDM: Yes. PAUL HUDSON: It’s delicious. EZE JACKSON: Yeah? When is the first time you had crabs, Paul? PAUL HUDSON: Man, I don’t know. I was pretty young. I remember when I was really young, I thought I was allergic to crabs. I had a really bad reaction when I was like seven, eight years old. So, probably around then, but been fine ever since. EZE JACKSON: Nice. DDM: I can’t remember. I’m from Baltimore, so we eat these all the time. EZE JACKSON: As far back as you can remember, right? DDM: We come out eating crabs. Two years’ old you figure out how to crack ’em. PAUL HUDSON: Right. EZE JACKSON: Word. Word. So, y’all got a new album out. It’s called “A Church on Vulcan”, right? PAUL HUDSON: Yeah. DDM: Yeah. EZE JACKSON: Tell me about the album. Tell me, because it’s a follow-up to the EP, “Everybody’s so Sleepy” Tell me about it, and what are some of the important songs on this project that you want people to hear? DDM: I think this record is… now that I listen to it after it’s done, I was talking to a friend of ours, Matt, it is definitely a darker sounding record. But dark, in the Steely Dan kind of way, where it’s heavy content, but you don’t know you’re listening to heavy content, until you look back. It’s like, “Oh! Dude!” you know, like? There’s a lot of social commentary on this record, I’d say, wouldn’t you? PAUL HUDSON: Yeah. I feel like a lot of, like, the darkest elements are kind of hidden in lighter sounds, you know? So, on some of the songs where it sounds light and poppy and everything, if you really listen to the song, that’s some of the darkest moments on the album, but yeah, I think there’s a lot of important songs on this album. DDM: Yeah, “Technicolor”. EZE JACKSON: What is it about “Technicolor” that’s…? DDM: “Technicolor” is an important song, because it’s, you know, especially… You know, I grew up in Baltimore, West Baltimore, you know? And here, our children are designed to go on a certain path, and they’re designed to think a certain way — at least when I was coming up — and I look at the kids now. And “Technicolor” is basically a song about you wanting what you feel you deserve, not what people think you deserve. You can have what you want to have. You’re going to have to work for it. But don’t let nobody tell you what you should be, or what you should have. And I think that’s very important for children. Specifically in inner cities, and living in this time, when there are a lot of budget cuts. Especially for arts programs and music programs. It’s important for them to have their mind side. EZE JACKSON: Right. BONDSTREET: (“Technicolor” clip) EZE JACKSON: Would you consider yourself a patriot? PAUL HUDSON: A patriot? I mean, yeah I guess so, but at the same time, it’s hard to be patriotic in a country that has so many issues that seem to not be able to be resolved. You know, you would think that in, as progressive as a time as you would like to think we live in, there are still issues of race, and you know, issues with the LGBTQ, you know? — stumbled through that — Nah, it’s just like, you know, you would think that we would be a lot farther along by now than we really are. EZE JACKSON: Right. PAUL HUDSON: So, I find myself struggling, even seeing, sometimes family members, posting on social media certain things. And seeing people that you wouldn’t consider to be hateful or anything, and post things that aren’t necessarily hateful, but from a place of ignorance. And they, you know, not understanding other people’s points-of-view. And I think that’s some of the most American stuff right there, is refusing to see someone else’s point of view. This is the way it’s supposed to be. This is right. EZE JACKSON: Right. PAUL HUDSON: If you don’t think so, you’re wrong and I have… EZE JACKSON: Right. You brought up an interesting thing the other day, when we were talking about the Blue Angels, and like… PAUL HUDSON: Yeah. EZE JACKSON: When you said when it was Fleet Week here. PAUL HUDSON: Yeah, they were just here and had the Blue Angels flying over Baltimore and stuff like that. And you know, as impressive as it is, because what they do is truly impressive, you know? It’s really crazy, but as impressive as it is, it’s kind of scary to sit there and hear that, and see that, and think that in that very moment, in that exact day, there’s someone in the world who’s seeing and hearing the same type of thing, but in their mind their not thinking, like, “Oh, pretty plane.” They’re thinking, “My whole family is about to die, like right now.” You know? And every time you would hear those planes go over, it was hard not to, like, hear that screeching of those jet engines going by and then not imagine right after it, hearing boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom… And just thinking like, “Whoa, like, a whole neighborhood just got taken out, like that.” You know? And it was bizarre to sit there, comfy in your house and looking out your window, drinking a coffee and seeing this stuff happen and feel totally safe. And knowing that people are losing loved ones day in and day out, and then we’re still sitting here wondering why people hate us. EZE JACKSON: Right. Right. PAUL HUDSON: It’s really… it’s baffling. EZE JACKSON: It’s crazy. It’s hard. What about you, Manny? DDM: Patriot? EZE JACKSON: Uh huh. DDM: Um… I’ll put it to you like this. The country has a lot of things that need to be fixed. But when you go outside of the country, it’s a little different for black folks when you go into certain regions, they don’t really view us the same as they view white Americans. EZE JACKSON: Uh huh. DDM: But you’re still an American. So, you definitely feel that. Like, even talking to you, like… you know, I have a friend over in Britain, and I talk to her about the news program and how we’re just viewed by everyday people. And it reminds me so much of Rome. It reminds me of Marie Antoinette. I think that I believe… EZE JACKSON: How so? DDM: In the sense that, like, when you look at… I was just talking to, I think it was you, Paul. I was talking to Paul about Sofia Coppola’s, Marie Antoinette film she did in 2006. And it basically humanized Marie Antoinette’s story, and it made you understand how people can revolt. Case in point, when you look at the Kim Kardashian robbery in Paris, Hollywood was like, “Oh, nobody deserves that! That’s terrible!” And you know, they kind of got upset. Karl Lagerfeld actually, is the only one that made a statement that was actually true. If you are famous, you have lots of money — naturally people are going to want to share it with you. That’s very true. And it was very telling to me that a lot of celebrities and, you know, media people, could not understand why on social media and in the world, people did not feel sorry for her. EZE JACKSON: Right. DDM: And I think what they miss is, the only thing, like I said, she just missed the guillotine this time. But when you have people living in a state in which they’re living in, in the South, the poverty level amongst a lot of people. These people can’t even afford to go on a shopping spree to Walmart. EZE JACKSON: Uh huh. DDM: And you’re a person who’s always on social media. Now, I don’t know what her, you know, philanthropy work is like, or what her charity work is like. But it’s hard to explain to people who are living like that, for them to feel bad for you because you got robbed of $5 million worth of jewellery. Who has $5 million worth of jewellery on their person? EZE JACKSON: Right. Right. DDM: You know? I can’t even borrow $20 from my mother. You understand what I’m saying? So, it’s kind of hard to be a patriot because… DDM CLIP: Champions are made from the worst of things. A King is not measured by his items, he is measured by his fucking persona. So, if I have nothing, I’m still a king, my crown still exists. It’s just in the pawnshop bitch. Okay? (music) Hey! All my smokers in the building, put your hands up, we’re going to vibe to this. I want y’all to listen to the words with us. Thank you for rocking with us, we are Bondstreet District, let’s go! Hey! BONDSTREET: (“Everybody’s so Sleepy” — hip-hop song) EZE JACKSON: Baltimore, post Freddie Gray, has received a lot of attention from the outside world. And those of us that grew up in… here in the area, remember a time when, you know, Baltimore was hardly ever mentioned. But just from your perspectives, what have you seen change since April of 2015? PAUL HUDSON: Good question. I mean, as far as it pertains to Baltimore City itself? Or, kind of like, gets viewed in, like, the country’s eye through…? EZE JACKSON: Yeah, Baltimore… Anywhere from your perspective, I mean, you know, we’re coming from the art’s community, but you know we’ve talked about politics. You know we live here. PAUL HUDSON: Uh huh. EZE JACKSON: You know, you work here, what difference do you see? What stands out to you in terms of, you know, Baltimore post Freddie Gray? PAUL HUDSON: I think one thing that I’ve seen, and I think that it was here before Freddie Gray and everything, but a lot more young, socially conscious artists, and people who are really interested in bringing community together, and being more community-oriented with what they do. I know seeing a lot of young white artists who really want to try to involve people of every ethnicity. Try to bring the black community into things, because I think that’s one thing that can be a little dangerous, is when you have one culture, kind of come into an area, and exploit the, you know, good parts of it, while ignoring parts that need help and needs something. You know what I mean? There are so many things with this city, without after school programs, like you were saying, the liberal arts programs being cut left and right. These kids have no outlets, like, at all. Like, they have nothing, and people wonder why there’s so much unrest and angst and stuff like that. I mean, even like you were saying, the poverty level and stuff like that in this city, people are growing up with post-traumatic stress syndrome just from growing up, from being a kid. You know what I mean? And I’m so fortunate that I think of my childhood very fondly. I got to have a, you know, good, you know, upbringing and for the most part, a happy childhood. And it’s hard to break out of that mentality and think about people who don’t ever want to think about their childhood. EZE JACKSON: Right. PAUL HUDSON: They want to get as far away from that as possible, so… to bring it back to the whole Freddie Gray thing, I think there’s a lot more socially conscious artists and young people who genuinely want to figure out how to cross art and community. And do well by the people around them, because nobody else is. BONDSTREET: (clip) We’re living in hard times y’all. Real times y’all, stay ‘woke. … (rap music) EZE JACKSON: “Terror Era” and people will hear it, but “Terror Era” is real dark. PAUL HUDSON: Uh huh. EZE JACKSON: Talk a little bit about “Terror Era”. PAUL HUDSON: Well, that song came about a while ago. That was kind of our way of… We actually put that song out originally just with the first verse, with Manny’s verse on it, about how many months before the uprising? I mean it was… DDM: Yeah, it was a while before that. PAUL HUDSON: Yeah. DDM: Content is not trendy. Only people are. PAUL HUDSON: Ah, come on now. Yeah, but it… EZE JACKSON: Okay. Yeah, you said content is not trendy, only people are. I like that, because I was going to ask if you felt like… Oh, I’m sorry, go ahead. PAUL HUDSON: Not at all, all I was going to say about it was, just that it was very telling of what was really going on in Baltimore at the time. Before it got that national stage, and you started seeing it on CNN and the regular news cycle and all this stuff. So, it was crazy to see him write that, and then see everything that happened so quickly after that. You know what I mean? Like you said, you know, the content still stays true today. You listen to that song today, you’d think that he wrote it yesterday, and that was, you know, what, a year and a half ago, or something like that. But yeah, having the addition of Hemlock Ernst, and yourself, definitely brought that extra element to the whole thing, and really rounded it out. But it’s a dark song. EZE JACKSON: So, when you… I know. Sorry. I know that particular song is dark, but overall you describe the album as having some dark content. Is that a reflection of today? Is it a reflection of just personal things that y’all have gone through? Or was it just, like, a creative direction you wanted to go in your thing? DDM: I think it’s a reflection of a lot of things. It’s definitely a reflection of the times. You know, being in a group. Every day isn’t a perfect day. So, it’s a reflection of your daily living. And it’s definitely a reflection of, you know, living in Baltimore City. I’m a life-long resident, I’ve always lived here and I’ve seen it great, I’ve seen it bad. I remember when the harbour was something to see. Now it’s not, you know? So, when you start seeing time happen, I’m just old enough now where, like, my generation is from… We got to see the end of analog and the creation of digital. So, you’re living in two different time frames. Like, to my little brother, My Space is ancient. To me, I remember when My Space was nothing. You know, like, he doesn’t know a world without YouTube. I remember, when in school, we had one Mac computer. It halfway worked, and it was like the blue one that processed super slow, you know? So, the record is definitely, even sonically, I think, a fusion of time. BONDSTREET: (clip) Public Radio International… Bondstreet District presents “Everybody’s so Sleepy”, a Paul Hudson production, starring DDM as Uncle Lulu, aka Killa Queen, aka This is your father speaking, aka, Yes, bitch come through. … (hip-hop music) EZE JACKSON: Now, all right, last question, two sentences — if you could talk to your 17-year-old self, what would you prepare him for? PAUL HUDSON: Ah… I would tell 17-year-old Paul, “Always expect more work. Always expect more work, but always be happy that at least you have work to get done.” EZE JACKSON: Hmm. I like that. That’s dope, that’s dope. What about you, DDM? DDM: I would tell 17-year-old Emanuel, “Don’t be afraid to be who you are, and leave as soon as possible, and see the world.” EZE JACKSON: Hm… Awesome. Well, thanks for joining. PAUL HUDSON: Thanks so much for having us, appreciate it. EZE JACKSON: Stick around. We’re gonna crack a couple more of these. Yeah. Y’all, thanks for joining us again on the Whole Bushel. Bondstreet District’s album “A Church on Vulcan” will be available on iTunes, and everywhere else where you can download music. Just Google ’em, look them up. We’ll also have information on The Realnews.com. ————————- END