Eze Jackson sits down with Bobbi Rush, Micah E. Wood and JPEGMAFIA to discuss politics, social media, and more in this episode of The Whole Bushel
EZE JACKSON: What’s up, y’all? Welcome back for another episode of The Whole Bushel on the Real News Network. I’m your host, Eze Jackson. The Whole Bushel is an artist interview show where I sit down with performing artists to discuss issues that matter to them the most, all while eating crabs the way we do here in Baltimore, Maryland. Today, I’m joined by three very talented guests. Today we have singer-songwriter, Micah E. Wood; we got rapper/producer, JPEGMAFIA; and singer and writer, the lovely Miss Bobbi Rush with us today. How y’all doing? BOBBI RUSH Good, how are you? EZE JACKSON: Good. Thanks for coming on the show. Of course, always a good time to kick it with y’all. I like to talk politics on this show often. JPEGMAFIA: Get it. EZE JACKSON: And I want to start with you, JPEG, because you put a project out last year … JPEGMAFIA: Right. EZE JACKSON: Called Black Ben Carson. JPEGMAFIA: Right! EZE JACKSON: For those of you who are overseas or might not know, Ben Carson is a black neurologist who is also from Baltimore, but last year, he ran as a Republican candidate … Well, he ran in the Republican primary for President. JPEGMAFIA: Right, right, right, right. EZE JACKSON: And so you got this project called Black Ben Carson. JPEGMAFIA: Right. EZE JACKSON: But one of my favorite things about the project is the song titling. I’m really, I’m a big fan of artists who think about song titling. And you have a couple titles on here: “I Just Killed a Cop, Now I’m Horny.” JPEGMAFIA: Right. EZE JACKSON: “I Smell Crack.” JPEGMAFIA: Right! EZE JACKSON: Which immediately gave me nostalgic nausea. “I Might Vote for Donald Trump.” Explain the concept behind that. What are you trying to say with these titles? You got other songs like “Black Ben Carson,” of course, the title track. “Black Steve Austin,” “Black Stacey Dash.” Explain to me the concept, the idea behind the album. JPEGMAFIA: It’s because it’s the first thing you see. I don’t intend for it to be shock value because I could easily just name those tracks anything it be shocking. But I try to have something to back it up, in order so when you’re like, “What the fuck is ‘I Just Killed a Cop, Now I’m Horny,’” now you listen to it and it’s like, “Oh, shit.” You know what I’m saying? So I wanted that combination of things because subconsciously, that puts something in your head like, “This song sounds crazy! What is it?” Then you hear it and you like it, it heightens it. As opposed to if you’re just skimming through the track listening. So I put those tracks in there to attract people in. So people who don’t know me, they’ll see it and be like, they might want to check it out just based off of how weird the title is or something like that. And all the titles have concepts behind them. Like I named “Black Ben Carson,” obviously Ben Carson is black but … It’s like commentary on him. Like he’s black, but is he really black? Like he’s wasting his melanin to me. It’s just like, what is he really doing out here? He separated those twins and the nigga hasn’t done shit since. Like for anybody but himself. He ran as a Republican, he lost. Like, he’s a fucking loser, yo. Like he’s … EZE JACKSON: He’s an embarrassment. JPEGMAFIA: He’s an embarrassment to black people! And he’s a neurologist! Isn’t that crazy? It’s like, you were the first person to split a Siamese twin apart or whatever, and you’re a failure. Like, nobody wants to be you. Like, that must be sad. So I’m like, you know what, he’s not doing his job as a black person. I’ll do it for him. It’s like commentary, but instead of explaining all that, it’s just like “Black Ben Carson.” EZE JACKSON: One of the interesting things, I think, around this discussion right now in the country and in the world, really, is the role social media plays in educating. Because you have people who may have known that police officers get away with killing black men, but to actually see Alton Sterling murdered, to see Eric Garner murdered … You know what I mean? To be able to watch Mr. Castile die in his vehicle next to his girlfriend makes it very real for us. And it changes a lot of the discussion when you do that. But social media plays a role in a lot of different things. It has changed the way we date, the way we grieve, the way we enjoy entertainment. MICAH E. WOOD: The way we elect a president. EZE JACKSON: The way we elect a president! I mean, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, both very successful candidates who successfully used social media as part of their campaigning. Micah, you got a song called “Match.” I want to quote one of the lyrics on here. You said, “I may be loud, but you won’t see that in me, at least not from a picture on a pixelated screen. Will you love me? Will I want you to? It’s hard to tell from your bio, it only has a word or two.” I love that because you talking about meeting somebody on Tinder. Do you think that social media is doing away with the true, authentic human experience? MICAH E. WOOD: Yeah, totally. I mean, I think it alters it in a good way and in a bad way. There is definitely pros and cons in all social media, but with dating, like here’s the thing: Tinder as a concept, genius. Especially because it’s location-based. You would see someone that you might see around and you’d be like, “That person’s really cute! But like, I don’t know how to talk to them” or “I don’t want to make them uncomfortable” because we’re in a society where men are very predatorial and it’s very hard to walk up to a girl and not be a predator. You can’t just be like, “I saw you across the bar and you’re hanging out with all your friends and obviously you want to talk to me more than them.” So that’s just not how any interaction should go. So you use a dating app where you’re like, “Okay.” That way if she wants to do something, it’s consent on both ends, it’s very calm and innocent. So you swipe right on someone you have mutual interest in. But the problem is, it’s used wrong. A) Men use it just swiping right on everyone. They take it as a numbers game and they’ll just pick through the people they want to talk to later. EZE JACKSON: Swiping right means you like them? MICAH E. WOOD: Yeah, yeah. Which literally would ruin the whole algorithm of the app, which is just from a nerdy aspect. So maybe it’s a metaphor for how anyone uses the internet, but the fact that there’s a way that it’s designed to work well and it’s used wrong is a great example of that. Tinder will never work if guys are just like, “Yes, yes, yes, yes! Oh, I can’t swipe anymore? I’ll wait.” You know? Like, that’s not how I use it. I use Tinder like this, I swipe right and I’m like, “This person’s perfect for me, it’s going to be great.” And then I just sit there and I’m like, “Yeah, it’s going to happen.” And then I just close out the app and I use it again like four months later. Because that’s how it should be. But people’s bios are just things like, “You’re going to buy me coffee sometime.” I’m like, what? Or it’s just an emoji of a plant. I don’t know what any of these things mean. EZE JACKSON: You don’t really get to know who you’re talking to or … MICAH E. WOOD: Well, on the dating apps that do have it, you’re like, “There’s too much!” BOBBI RUSH Even in real life, you don’t get to know the real person. MICAH E. WOOD: Yeah, someone doesn’t show up with their resume. BOBBI RUSH So what makes you think on the social media that you’re going to be upfront and completely who you say you are? Hell no! MICAH E. WOOD: It’s like, “Hey, let’s go on a first date, you want to tell me all of your baggage?” BOBBI RUSH Absolutely. Before the night is over. EZE JACKSON: I want you to unpack that a little more. Talk to me about that. MICAH E. WOOD: Yeah, that’s great. EZE JACKSON: Nah, about like in real life, like because that’s a fact, too. You know what I mean? I think even in my question, you know what I’m saying, we can blame stuff on social media, but where did social media come from? Like, did it come from a desire to communicate with people without actually having to interact with them? BOBBI RUSH Yeah. It did. Because even now, they won’t even acknowledge it. Like you can see somebody who follows you on social media, see you in person, they will not speak to you. Look you in your face, but then a whole message, “You know, it was so good seeing you tonight, I really like …” Well, you could have said that to my face! You know? Next time, just don’t even speak to me! [crosstalk 00:16:38] Yeah! It’s like, don’t even talk to me next time. MICAH E. WOOD: But at the same time, it’s super weird when someone does! BOBBI RUSH It’s not. It’s normal. MICAH E. WOOD: Yeah, sometimes it is, like if you don’t follow them, you don’t know who they are. You’re just like, “Hey, I saw this and this.” BOBBI RUSH Are we talking in person or …? MICAH E. WOOD: Yeah, in person. BOBBI RUSH It’s not weird to me because it’s in person. MICAH E. WOOD: It just takes a second. Like I don’t think I’m bothered by it as much as I’m taken aback. Like, I have to understand what context they’re speaking of. Like, “Oh yeah, I see you on blah blah blah” and I’m like, “Which app? What are we talking about? Are we talking about an app or are you talking about you saw me in a place?” I just need to understand the concept of where we’re placed. BOBBI RUSH I don’t think that’s creepy, though. MICAH E. WOOD: No, I don’t think it’s creepy, no. BOBBI RUSH It’s supposed to be that way. JPEGMAFIA: [00:19:36] Let me into your world, like what’s really going on? Even if I don’t understand it, like if you’re a suburban nigga and you mad because your mom won’t let you play Call of Duty today, like let me hear that shit! I’m curious because that’s not something that I relate to … EZE JACKSON: Go off! Go off on somebody. JPEGMAFIA: Yeah, like go off! Let me hear that shit! EZE JACKSON: I agree. Because I can appreciate authenticity. JPEGMAFIA: Yeah. Exactly. Authenticity, I think, is what I think we need to see more. It’s not required, but just be authentic. Not like authentic in like you gotta be a real nigga or anything, but be authentic to yourself. MICAH E. WOOD: Be authentic to yourself, yeah. JPEGMAFIA: Exactly. Be real to who you are and be the most ‘you’ you can be and don’t try to be like some other niggas because whatever you think other people want to hear, that’s probably not what they want to hear. They already have that person you trying to mimic for that. MICAH E. WOOD: Once you do it, we’re already past that. Like if you spend 12 months to 2 years working on an album for something you think people want to hear right this second, by the time it comes out, no one cares. So focus on making what you want to hear, what’s honest and true to you, then you’ll have the album by the time it comes out that people, as Bobbi said, will listen to if they fuck with it or not listen to it if they don’t. Let them choose. JPEGMAFIA: And all the highest selling … I want to point out that all the highest selling hip hop artists like ever are artists who fall into that category. They are authentic to themselves and they rap about something that people really cling … Jay Z, Tupac, OutKast, all these people are the ones who … So the people that people are think are selling like a bunch of fucking records, they’re not selling as much as you might think they are. The shit that people really cling to and that last a long time and they can perform 20 years from now is that shit that people can relate to, you being authentic to yourself. Kanye will be able to sell out a tour in 40 years if he’s around. EZE JACKSON: For sure. For sure. JPEGMAFIA: His truth is that much, like, strong. Oh, she don’t like Kanye. BOBBI RUSH We’ll see. We’ll see. We will see. EZE JACKSON: Oh, you’re not a Kanye fan? BOBBI RUSH Oh I love Kanye, I’m just kinda disappointed in him. JPEGMAFIA: No, I am, too, with the Trump shit … Anybody who criticizes Kanye, I’m like, warranted. Cool. His music has hit me so hard, there’s very little … Unless he just steals on my mom or some shit. MICAH E. WOOD: I defended him until this last year, and then I was just like, “He’s going through stuff, we’re going to let him handle that, I’m not going to defend that. We’re just going to keep moving.” EZE JACKSON: This discussion about Kanye brings up a very interesting topic for me, and that’s the discussion around mental health in the black community. JPEGMAFIA: Yeah. EZE JACKSON: Kanye went through something that I went through and that was his mother dying, which is something that a lot of people experience, but if you’ve ever lost a parent, it is one of the most life-changing … Bobbi, you know. BOBBI RUSH Yeah. EZE JACKSON: You part of the club, too. BOBBI RUSH True. EZE JACKSON: It’s one of the most life-changing experiences you can have and we literally watched a black man … BOBBI RUSH Fall completely apart. EZE JACKSON: Try to deal with that … JPEGMAFIA: In public. EZE JACKSON: And try to deal with that publicly. You know what I’m saying? And we saw a very unforgiving … MICAH E. WOOD: It was at a very pinnacle part in his career. EZE JACKSON: Very pinnacle, yeah. A crucial point in his career. MICAH E. WOOD: Like he couldn’t ghost at that moment. EZE JACKSON: Right. JPEGMAFIA: It’s because there’s no sympathy for niggas. There’s no sympathy for black … EZE JACKSON: Come on, man. JPEGMAFIA: Like, nobody. Like … Kanye West having mental issues, nobody cares. He’s just a big scary nigga, he did such and such to Taylor Swift. None of that matters to them. The narrative will switch when the color is different. MICAH E. WOOD: But even Kid Cudi, who doesn’t have anything where anyone can … People can hate on him for certain things, but not for human nature. Maybe they don’t like his music or whatever, but people hating on him when he was having mental health showed a great example of that. JPEGMAFIA: Exactly. EZE JACKSON: But these things have been happening to black artists for years! You know what I mean? You go back to Donnie Hathaway killing himself at a very pinnacle point in his career. You talk about James Brown having several breakdowns and things. Marvin Gaye having to go into seclusion at certain points and then essentially putting himself in a position to be murdered by a father who was dealing with mental illness. These things are … I feel like we don’t talk about mental illness in the black community enough, but then on top of that, on the world stage, like you said, there’s no sympathy, no room for mental illness or breakdowns or anything like that. It’s just like, “You’re rich, so what are you whining about?” JPEGMAFIA: Yeah, yeah, “you’ll be fine” type of shit. MICAH E. WOOD: Yeah. JPEGMAFIA: Yeah. And it goes double. Like that’s for celebrities in general, regardless of race, but it doubles down on black people because people look down on them in general. So yeah, a black man or woman going through something mentally is going to met with almost none or zero … Like zero sympathy or very little sympathy. Like for real. Like, if Beyonce was like, “I’m having a crisis”, niggas would be like, “Get over it, Beyonce, with your fake ass baby! You ain’t real!” EZE JACKSON: “Yeah, you got such and such million dollars! What do you mean you having a crisis?” JPEGMAFIA: It’s all good, but no, when Justin Bieber decided he wanted to be white again and he went on the Ellen Show, they were like, “Welcome back, Bieber! Are you okay? Did you have a good time? Welcome back!” “Is it too late to say sorry?” All that bullshit. It’s not the same shit! I literally watched this shit happen too many times and like they don’t, the barometer’s completely fucking different. I don’t know if I pronounced that word the right way, but you know what I’m talking about. The line there is not the same. MICAH E. WOOD: Well, yeah, the idea of celebrities in general not being able to have mental health issues. JPEGMAFIA: Yeah, in general. MICAH E. WOOD: I only say like, monetarily people always say, “Money can’t buy you happiness” and I stand by that, but lack of money can buy people depression. So what I’m saying is that when you have a lot of money, it doesn’t make you happy and it’s not necessarily going to make you happy. I just say the necessities, the bare necessities, can keep you out of having monetary depression. But that doesn’t mean that just because you get more, like that’s a line. After that, more money isn’t going to make you happy. It just can keep you out of that. BOBBI RUSH I think it will still be harder for black people with mental issues. MICAH E. WOOD: I agree. BOBBI RUSH Even with money and even without money, everybody can be poor. White, Indian, Mexican, black, whatever, but a black poor person will always have that extra because, not only am I poor and not only am I hard on myself, I have to leave out of here, and it be harder because of my peers. Whereas though this white man can be poor, but it will still be easier for him because he’s white. “I’m sad today.” “Oh, but you’re white! Come on in!” It’s like, “Oh no, you can’t come in here. Take your black ass back home.” So it’s like there’s really no comparison. And when we say “in general”, let’s not be so general because black people have it the hardest. JPEGMAFIA: Yeah. BOBBI RUSH Like they have it the hardest emotionally, spiritually, socially, all those things. JPEGMAFIA: To tag onto what she’s saying, that’s very true. And I went through a phase when I was real young where I was like, I looked at all this stuff happening to black people and how we’re afflicted everywhere, and I was just like, “What’s going on here?” I really tried to figure out, why are black people in this bad position? And at the time, I didn’t have no computer or nothing, so I was trying to do my own research. Of course, I couldn’t, so I came to the conclusion, this is all niggas fault. Somehow, we just managed to do this to ourselves. I can’t figure it out, I don’t know why everybody hates us. I don’t know. So I went with that mindset for like maybe a month when I was real young. But what snapped me out of it is hanging around poor white people in Alabama. Had no more money than me, right? But the one difference between them, and I was sitting in the barber shop with this dude, he was getting his hair cut, and he was talking about a court case he had. He was like, “Yeah, tomorrow, man? Put on my nice suit, I’m gonna go into court, tell the judge, ‘Yes, sir, he did it right over there, I promise you judge.’” Like that, he switched his voice and everything, and he was like, “I’m going to get off, bro. Come back here, I get you your money” blah blah blah. I’m like, that’s the difference! Nigga could turn it on! He probably had less money than me at the time, but he could turn that shit on when he wanted to get out of a problem. The fact that he was aware of that, because I knew that dude for years and he never mentioned that to me, but he pulled that shit out of nowhere, and I’m just like, damn, that’s the difference. And afterward, I was like, yeah, we got it worse, yo. No even comparison. So yeah. What she’s saying is extremely true. We really bottom of the barrel for real. EZE JACKSON: Yeah. That’s wild. It’s been a great talk, man. I appreciate y’all having … JPEGMAFIA: For sure. EZE JACKSON: I appreciate y’all coming on this show. JPEGMAFIA: And you were teaching me how to break crabs? EZE JACKSON: Yeah, man! Welcome! JPEGMAFIA, first time having crabs! JPEGMAFIA: She fucking … BOBBI RUSH Right? Come on! You better believe it! EZE JACKSON: Yeah, she’s a pro. Yo, thanks for joining us for another episode of The Whole Bushel. If you want to check out old episodes, stay up to date with the new episodes, you can follow us on YouTube and Facebook, The Whole Bushel. You also can check all of these videos out at therealnews.com and you’ll have all of these artists’ information posted below. You can check their music out and stay up to date with them on tour dates and releases, as well. Alright, see y’all next time.