In this episode of the Whole Bushel, rapper/activist Eze Jackson sits down with Producer Kariz Marcel to discuss his new sound, afro EDM; and the state of education and the arts. This was the first ever filmed episode of TWB, shot in the shell of “Ida B’s Table, a new restaurant currently being built in the Real News Media Center.
EZE JACKSON: Hello, welcome to The Whole Bushel. I’m your host, Eze Jackson. In this show we’re going to be sitting down talking to artists about issues that matter to them most, all while eating crabs. The first guest is producer, DJ and philanthropist, Kariz Marcel. Kariz Marcel is creating a new sound called Afro-EDM and working on the Blackwater Project — an upcoming project that includes several different genres and aspects of music. Thanks for joining us Kariz. KARIZ MARCEL: Thanks for having me. EZE JACKSON: Yeah man. KARIZ MARCEL: For sure, for sure. It’s a great vibe; great demolition. EZE JACKSON: Yeah, man. I like that. KARIZ MARCEL: I like this. This is real nice. This looks good on you. EZE JACKSON: Yeah, all right. So, Afro-EDM right? KARIZ MARCEL: Yeah, yeah. EZE JACKSON: This is a new sound; Blackwater Project, this is the new album. KARIZ MARCEL: Yeah. EZE JACKSON: Tell me about that. You know, what is it? And what in your personal life experience made you want to go this route musically? KARIZ MARCEL: Well, Afro-EDM is pretty much… it’s an audio interpreter of the middle passage; and connected to the yesterday, the today, and the future. EZE JACKSON: Hmm. KARIZ MARCEL: You know, so sonically it’s all about telling that story; African rhythms; the topics of the songs, you know, it’s inspired a lot about a legacy I feel I own. EZE JACKSON: Hmm. KARIZ MARCEL: And it kind of started with that concept in mind. It was a lot of inspirations behind the concept of Afro-EDM. There are other people that also in the world use the term, and I saw that a couple places, but I kind of really owned it, you know? EZE JACKSON: Uh huh. KARIZ MARCEL: And took it as like, you know, this is who I am. I’ve always been looking for that sound. As a producer we always, you know… It’s always good to have that sound, you know, that’s like your staff. And I always felt lesser than, coming up in the industry as a producer because, you know, Timber had a sound; Dre had a sound; you know, Pete Rock; you know, Diller — when you hear these guys, it’s like me coming from hip hop, that’s what I knew, like I had the sound. You know? EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: But I also love Quincy Jones where it’s though his arrangements might be signature, but overall, it’s like he does everything. Like, how do you know, you know, what is his signature there? And realize that, you know, his signature was really, classy versatility. You know what I mean? EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: And he mastered that art. EZE JACKSON: Uh huh. KARIZ MARCEL: That’s what he did but I always wanted a sound. So, you know with everything that was happening, you know, post Freddie Gray, I would say around April… Is that, you know? EZE JACKSON: Yeah, April 2015. Yeah. KARIZ MARCEL: Yeah, so you know, it was just something kind of awoken in me, and I was already kind of like wanting to get into more African type of rhythm of music, that kind of touched the people in different ways. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: And when that started going down and then we’re in the streets; we’re throwing parties in the streets; protesting in the streets. … it was out of the movies. It was unreal, you know, and to me, I just felt wrong for committing to any kind of music that didn’t uplift us. (music) … You know, it’s motivational, uplifting, soulful dance music. Man, that’s all about really, you know, tying in our ancestors to our grandchildren. You know what I mean? EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: And sonically we need a story to… we need music to tell these times. And I don’t feel like it’s not enough mainstream quality music, commercial music that reflects the times. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: People do it, but it’s not, you know, at a place where I think it… I think the important thing to do is to really make music that people can just dance to. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: And then when you feel like listening to the lyrics, you listen to them. You know what I mean? EZE JACKSON: Uh huh. KARIZ MARCEL: But there are some jewels in some of these records. And it’s just about, you know, dance and having a good time but you know. EZE JACKSON: Yeah, you bring up a good point like, you know, and talking about the dynamics of what happened with Freddie Gray, especially here in Baltimore. Like, a lot of artists, a lot of people in general changed their course, you know. And you’re right, like, right now people want substance. They want something that, you know, inspires, uplifts, tells a story. KARIZ MARCEL: Yeah. EZE JACKSON: So, I salute you for that. You know, we’ve been in the trenches for a while together. KARIZ MARCEL: Yeah, yeah. EZE JACKSON: You have a non-profit organization “Kariz Kids”. KARIZ MARCEL: It’s a business, actually. EZE JACKSON: A business — LLC, okay. KARIZ MARCEL: Yeah, yeah. It’s an LLC. It’s an educational service provider company and we partner with non-profits to help build their enrichment infrastructure. EZE JACKSON: Right. So, I’ve worked with you and Kariz Kids. KARIZ MARCEL: Yes. EZE JACKSON: We’ve taught kids in Baltimore City Public School as well about the business of music, about music production. And then this summer you worked with rapper Damian Blues, Beats not Bullets. KARIZ MARCEL: Yes, yeah. EZE JACKSON: Why is it important for you as an artist to work with young people, and kind of, you know, put yourself in that setting to educate young people on music? KARIZ MARCEL: Absolutely, I mean, as a creator, first of all, as an artist, as a creator, as a businessman, the magic… people don’t understand the power in the magic in youth. Like, when you remove all judgement, you just listen to them, and you become their friend — before you know it you become a prophet, because you already are adding seeds and doing something for now to add to later. EZE JACKSON: Hmm. KARIZ MARCEL: So, by listening to the kids, you, actually know where things are going because that 13, 13-year-old kid is going to be 30 years old. You know what I mean. In another– EZE JACKSON: –One day, yeah. KARIZ MARCEL: –15, 16, 17 years, those are going to be the guys that’s going to be running things. You can kind of see where it’s going based upon the mentality of where they’re at. So, what our position and our job is to do is to kind of find… I believe everybody is a born genius, right? EZE JACKSON: Uh huh. KARIZ MARCEL: There are a lot of bad things that happen, you know what I mean? Like… like, to people on the… come up with though, within weeks that genius could be stripped away, rather …, you know, from somebody telling you that you’re stupid or ugly, or whatever. You know, so our job is to tap into that genius. (music) … EZE JACKSON: So, today… What’s this? We’re sitting here, September 21st, 2016. KARIZ MARCEL: Yeah, man. EZE JACKSON: And yesterday we had two black men murdered by police. KARIZ MARCEL: Once again. EZE JACKSON: You know, Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina. KARIZ MARCEL: Yeah. EZE JACKSON: And then Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma. What’s going on through your mind right now, as a black man, living in America? KARIZ MARCEL: Well, you know, my time line was just, man… my timeline was depressing, you know. It was depressing and you think about, you know, the names you mentioned and then if you want to add the Mike Brown, the Eric Garner — these are all big black men. EZE JACKSON: Yeah. KARIZ MARCEL: I’m a big black man. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: You know what I’m saying? … So, when you see that I’m the biggest threat, like of course, you’ve got little dudes getting bothered by the police too, but at the end of the day, it’s like I’m a big black man. I’m a threat, like, you know. I have to smile more just to make people comfortable. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: So, they don’t mess with me. Do you know what I mean? EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: So, it’s like the psychology of, like, now. Just five years ago we’ll see a police officer, we might even say hi to him. Or you know, a person of authority, people were, you know, not as uptight. Now, it’s like… EZE JACKSON: There’s tension. KARIZ MARCEL: There’s tension. EZE JACKSON: Yeah. KARIZ MARCEL: You know and so you’re walking lightly but then, you know it’s like how are we going to move within all of this is happening. I mean, because at the end of the day, what’s happening has always happened, right? EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: You know, it’s just that now we… it could be… it was being televised, through your phones. And now you can actually see a person getting murdered by a click of a button. EZE JACKSON: Yeah. KARIZ MARCEL: So, what’s going to affect the psyche — you’re going to have somebody that was deaf, dumb and blind for 10, 15 years and just wake up and then there’s a resurgence of consciousness like crazy, you know. EZE JACKSON: Yeah. KARIZ MARCEL: People are trying. They want to get into activism. They want to make more positive music. I mean, some people, you know, they buy dashikis. You know what I mean? EZE JACKSON: Yeah. KARIZ MARCEL: That might be a small part of it but to that… that’s just like, okay, people are starting to awake. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: You know, and I think overall, we can sit here and really talk about what are the kinds of that situation, what happened with those gentlemen that were murdered but I’m not the person to talk about that. We can go deep into the level of depression all day long. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: You know we lived it. We are that, right? EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: So, I think that our conversation needs to be more about, you know, moving forward. EZE JACKSON: Yeah. KARIZ MARCEL: And about how are we going to, as black men — what are we going to do for the next generation that’s coming up, that might not know how to talk to a police officer, or might not know how… I mean it’s unfortunate that we need to have to teach kids this is what you’re supposed to do, because you’re so… You know, you shouldn’t be that… EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: You know what I mean? EZE JACKSON: Yeah, it should be obvious. And then you’re right. There are so many systemic problems. You know, like, we can look, at the surface and say, “Well, white officers are killing black men.” Or you know, black men are killing black men, or whatever have you. But the real conversation needs to be around the systemic change, and how we change the root of those problems. You know what I mean? Why does he feel threatened by a big black man? KARIZ MARCEL: Right. EZE JACKSON: You know what I mean? Stepping out of his car, you know what I mean? Why don’t we know how to talk to police officers? I didn’t used to know how to talk to police officers. I used to have a real problem with police officers. KARIZ MARCEL: Yeah. EZE JACKSON: And it wasn’t until I went on like a young people’s retreat and they split the guys from the girls and they taught us what to do in a situation when we get pulled over. KARIZ MARCEL: Yeah. EZE JACKSON: You know, now I don’t know how often young white men are put I rooms until … but somewhere along the line, there are these disconnects, and I think it’s important that us as artists, you know, do the type of stuff we do to address those things. KARIZ MARCEL: Yeah, man. (music) … What happens when you strip all of that content away from commercial mainstream? EZE JACKSON: Uh huh. KARIZ MARCEL: And now you have 10 years plus of that now, right? EZE JACKSON: Uh huh. KARIZ MARCEL: Of where they don’t have the balance. So, if you’re 15 years old, you didn’t grow up with a balance unless it came from your parents. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: Your everyday influence, off of mainstream media was not a balanced cultural plate of food with greens and veggies; it wasn’t all of that. You know what I’m saying? EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: You’ve been getting all your pork chops for 15 years. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: You know, so… Running around with your spirit all… you know, so. EZE JACKSON: Yeah, yeah. KARIZ MARCEL: We just… that’s where my head is at with it, man. You know, bring the balance. And then, you know, we’ve got to bring the balance in. We can have a good time and bring the balance in. There’s nothing wrong with that. EZE JACKSON: Yeah, definitely,…definitely. So, you’ve got a song called “We Woke” featuring one of my favorite artists, Lonnie Moore. KARIZ MARCEL: Lonnie Moore, yeah man. EZE JACKSON: And the lyrics, you know, “Get on the good foot.” KARIZ MARCEL: “Hop on the good foot.” EZE JACKSON: “Hop on the good foot.” KARIZ MARCEL: “If your legs ain’t broke. Hop on the good foot, if your legs ain’t broke. If your legs ain’t broke. You can’t have my freedom, you can’t have my soul. And it says, we won’t.” EZE JACKSON: “Mother fucker we won’t.” KARIZ MARCEL: Yeah, “Mother fucker we won’t.” I forgot we curse. Oh yeah. You know, yo — so real, man. When I wrote that song it was the concept, you know. EZE JACKSON: Uh huh. KARIZ MARCEL: I call up blondie, man. I say, “I got this concept called ‘We Woke’.” The first thing it was a vision at first because I was imagining like this, “Thriller” and like, those people that were deaf, dumb and blind whether whoever they were, be white, black, whatever if you were not woke before, it’s like I just imagine these people coming out of their graves, like “Thriller.” Like, you woke, you know, and it was just like, they’re not dead anymore. Like, do you know what I mean? Like there is a resurgence of this, right? So, you know, the song “We Woke” is all about that, and I wanted the beat to kind of drive that kind of passionate soulful partying kind of thing vibe, and it was one of my favorite songs on the project, definitely. (music) … I don’t want everybody to … conscious … right? EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: I don’t think everybody should. I think that you shouldn’t do it, if you’re not in it. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: Like, you know, don’t hop on it because it’s a train. If you want to turn up, and sit and … good music, I mean, cool, do that because that’s who you are, right. I don’t… I’m not… I don’t need you to come over here and do that, right, but if you want to and if it’s genuine, then that’s great. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: But what I think is it just needs to be, if you’re not going to talk about it in music, at least have an opinion about it. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: You know, just address it. You know? EZE JACKSON: Yeah. KARIZ MARCEL: Don’t act like it just doesn’t happen, you know. Don’t act like you don’t know somebody that wasn’t affected by it. Just don’t be ignorant to it because people are watching and listening. You know, I have interviews all the time where artists will say, “I don’t want to say anything too controversial. I don’t want to” … I’m like, “Look man, you know, you ain’t endorsed by Mikey right now.” You know what I’m saying? EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: You don’t have no… You’re not… We’re at a point now when, especially when you’re independent… This is what I love about independent artists now, are just becoming major artists because, before you know, you had all these alliances with these major companies and it kind of, when they started giving us all this money in the mid to late ’90s, people started shutting up more. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: The deals got bigger. The mouths got closed. You know? And it was very smart. It was just brilliant how they shut us up, you know. You know me, this is what I’m thinking, this is what they did. You know you see somebody get a deal for $20 million and they don’t speak about it, you know? EZE JACKSON: Yeah. KARIZ MARCEL: They don’t want to upset the people who were responsible for that situation. You know what I’m saying? For art, you know, before our situation are the same people that’s investing in the music that’s going to keep us down. You know? So, I don’t need anybody to just jump up and go political. And even with me, I still produce records that are just about, you know, nothing about that. We still make songs about that. All I’m saying is that as an artist, it’s important that you at least acknowledge it. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: As a person, as a man, as a woman, just acknowledge it on a public platform. Not just, you know, you this person when the cameras are off and then as soon as the cameras are on, you’re that person, right. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: No, man. I just want you to be 100 all the way through. And that comes with, like, some guidance. You know, we… the OGs man, there’s not that much guidance anymore. That’s kind of … You know what I mean? So, we’re just letting them act the fool. EZE JACKSON: Right. KARIZ MARCEL: And get away with it. (music) … EZE JACKSON: Thanks for joining us for another episode of The Whole Bushel. To view all of our past episodes, and stay up with future episodes, you can follow our Facebook page, The Whole Bushel. You can also find us on YouTube and therealnews.com. See y’all next time. ————————- END