Drums of Revolution: new beat tape celebrating Cuba

cuba-beat-tape

Check out the new beat tape from Agent of Change, released today to mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the Cuban Revolution. The 18 hip-hop instrumentals (with a couple of feature verses from Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela!) celebrate Cuban culture, drawing influence and samples from Cuba’s diverse musical heritage.

Why Cuba? Here’s an article detailing some of the things that make Cuba worthy of support.

Commercial hip-hop bears strange fruit: on Kanye West, Rebel Diaz, Billie Holliday and Troy Davis.

Commercial hip-hop bears strange fruit: on Kanye West, Rebel Diaz, Billie Holliday and Troy Davis.

‘Strange Fruit’, originally recorded by the legendary jazz singer Billie Holliday, is about the lynching of black Americans by racist paramilitaries. You could argue that, to sample this song in a track about, well, nothing in particular, is a bit disrespectful. Here’s ‘Blood on the Leaves’, from Kanye’s new album ‘Yeezus’:

You can read the lyrics here.

A year and a half ago, Rebel Diaz also recorded over a beat that sampled ‘Strange Fruit’. Their track addresses the modern lynching of Troy Davis.

Lyrics here.

Which song does the sample justice?

Akala – Malcolm Said It

Inspiring track from Akala’s new album, The Thieves Banquet.

New hip-hop: Madiba’s Message (celebrating Cuban-Southern African solidarity)

Today marks 25 years since the army of apartheid South Africa was forced to start withdrawing from Angola after 13 years’ intervention in that country’s civil war, having been defeated in battle by a joint Angolan-Cuban force. Over the course of 1975-88, nearly 400,000 Cubans volunteered in Angola, mostly as soldiers but also as doctors, nurses, teachers and advisers. This is one of the greatest historical examples of revolutionary internationalism. When Nelson Mandela visited Cuba a year after his release from prison, he made an emotional speech in Havana in recognition of Cuba’s contribution to the liberation of southern Africa. That speech is sampled in this track.

“This is revolutionary Cuba; internationalist Cuba; the country that has done so much for the peoples of Africa. The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice unparalleled for its principled and selfless character. From its earliest days the Cuban Revolution has itself been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of a vicious imperialist-orchestrated campaign to destroy the impressive gains made in the Cuban Revolution.

We too want to control our own destiny… Long live the Cuban revolution.”

Read the full speech

Fidel was overcome with emotion on hearing Madiba’s speech. In his own speech, he said:

“It would not be right for us to emphasise Cuba’s modest contribution to the cause of the South African people, but on hearing Mandela’s speech, compañeros, I believe that he paid the greatest and most profound tribute that has ever been paid to our internationalist fighters. I believe that his words will remain, as if they were written in gold letters, as a homage to our combatants. He was generous, very generous; he recalled the epic feat our people performed in Africa, where all the spirit of this revolution was manifested, all its heroism and steadfastness…

“We knew – how could we not know! – that those events [in Angola] would have a profound effect on the life of South Africa itself, and this was one of the reasons, one of the motives, one of the great incentives that pushed us on. Because we knew that once the problem in Angola was resolved, the forces that were fighting against apartheid would also benefit from our struggles.

“But have we said it this way before? No, never, because we believe that above and beyond the enormous support from abroad … the decisive and determining factor behind the ANC’s successes was the heroism, the spirit of sacrifice and struggle of the South African people led by the ANC.

“This man, in these times of cowardice and so many things, has come to tell us what he told us this afternoon. It is something that can never be forgotten and it reveals the human, moral and revolutionary dimension of Nelson Mandela.”

Please enjoy and share the track! Long live Cuba and long live free Africa! The legacy of Nelson Mandela lives forever!

Read more about Cuba’s intervention in Angola
Fidel and Madiba

Jasiri X – New Nat Turners

Real talk from Jasiri.

Marcel Cartier – Dictatorship of Truth

Militant ish from Marcel, produced by Agent of Change.

Rebel Diaz – Work Like Chávez

Check out the latest track from Rebel Diaz, a tribute to the recently-deceased Venezuelan President, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, perhaps the most important political leader of our generation.

In a very difficult period of history, where US domination was near-universal, and where the IMF and World Bank were holding much of the so-called Third World to ransom, Chávez and his comrades were able to forge a different path: the path of socialism. As a result, the poor of Venezuela have seen a dramatic improvement in their living standards over the last 14 years: poverty has been massively reduced, education levels are much higher, healthcare is much more widely spread, and young people have greater access to cultural facilities than ever before. Furthermore, a solid start has been made on attacking the deep-rooted racism and sexism that have formed part of the dominant narrative in Venezuela for so long.

On the international level, Chávez was a true internationalist and anti-imperialist, inspiring a wave of positive change across Latin America, and giving loud, practical support to other countries under attack from the west.

The man is dead, but his legacy is the living, breathing, Venezuelan Revolution. We honour him by continuing his work with ever-greater dedication. Work Like Chávez!

[The intro sample is from legendary Venezuelan musician and activist, Alí Primera. The words translate as "Those who die for life can not be called dead. From this moment on, mourning is prohibited". The sample in the main beat is from Simón Díaz, one of the most important figures in Venezuelan folk music.]

Stand up against the violent eviction of the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective

“If the enemy is not doing anything against you, you are not doing anything” – Ahmed Sékou Touré.

Full solidarity with everyone involved with the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, an amazing community space in the South Bronx which is currently facing eviction. Apparently the state doesn’t look favourably on a self-organising progressive community group providing free cultural workshops, recording facilities, sports facilities, computer access and education sessions to a working class black/brown community. Big love and respect to Rebel Diaz – we stand with you!

Here’s a speech given by Rebel Diaz’ MC RodStarz at a protest outside the arts collective last night:

And this is a press release documenting exactly what happened.

A quick reflection on the Immortal Technique and Lowkey gig

I really enjoyed the Immortal Technique and Lowkey gig in London last night. First time I’ve seen Tech live. He’s a great performer and an inspiring guy, and he had the audience properly pumped up and feeling like they were part of a movement for revolutionary change. That’s cool. A lot better than feeling inspired to get ‘Rich Off Cocaine’.

The problem is when you wake up the next morning and you’re *not* part of a movement for revolutionary change, because that movement doesn’t exist, and hardly anyone has even considered why that is the case, and hardly anyone has given any serious thought to what the idea of revolution means in the 21st century in the heartlands of imperialism. There’s no leadership, no critical reflection, very little analysis of the failures of the past, very little strategic innovation, very little ideological clarity, an almost outright hostility to political/economic/social/cultural theory, very little willingness to challenge (or even recognise) the colonialist/racist/sexist prejudices we inherit, no willingness to *unite* with one another in any meaningful way, and so on. In summary, we have too much division, confusion, prejudice, ignorance, inertia, dogma and cowardice. Yes, there are a few small groups that consider themselves revolutionary, but they have no connection with the oppressed people they want to lead, and they show no real willingness to address their shortcomings. They’re waiting for external conditions to arise that will make the masses flock to them. Meanwhile, the ruling class continues full speed ahead with its programme of demobilising and diverting (and destroying) oppressed people.

So some inspiring radical culture is nice. It made me feel good; I’m sure it made others feel good. But unless it encourages us to face up to the difficult issues of creating a movement for change, then we shouldn’t kid ourselves that going to a gig is some sort of revolutionary act.

Interview with Immortal Technique

Via I am 808

This October we get hit with a dose of some real underground Hip Hop! With only a matter of weeks left until the highly anticipated Immortal Technique ‘Return Of The Rebels’ tour, I was lucky to catch up with the man himself for an exclusive interview to find out what we can expect!

Finally you return to the U.K with a strong line-up of artists supporting you, Tell us a bit about what we can expect from the Return Of The Rebels Tour?

Me, Poison Pen, Dj Static, Swave Sevah are all coming to represent for the Hardcore Underground Hip Hop fans, already about half these shows are sold out so I’m just hoping that there is enough room in some of these places so that people won’t be left out in the cold. Get your tickets now, you were warned.

What material are you looking to perform at the show? Any new tracks that touch on any current issues?

I’m going to hopefully have a chance to perform songs from the last album I put out for free “The Martyr” that coincidentally had over a million downloads. The 3rd World, Revolutionary Vol.2 and Revolutionary Vol.1. I think it’ll be a big mix of what people know me and love me for. As far as whether it touches on current issues, all the music I have does that.

What do you love about coming to the UK? Are there any spots that you love visiting when you are here?

London is a very wild city that reminds me of New York City about 10-15 years ago the way they show so much love for Underground Hip Hop. It’s actually bigger in many places than regular mainstream music. I have always had such love shown to me from the people of England. I actually studied a great deal of middle age and early British history as I have an ancient Norman ancestor, I love to visit historical sites and also to see some of the Reggae clubs that I always have a good time in. And even though mutton is disgusting they actually have delicious food from around the word, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, etc.

With the elections coming up in the USA how do you respond to people who push for re-electing Obama especially when much of the world sees him as a war president? And is the negativity and the danger of a Romney president make pushing for Obama legitimate?

The two party system has become so corrupt people are losing faith in Obama, yes very much so, his drone strikes, unwavering support for the IDF military action. But then again he’s really an impossible position. In the United States of America, it is political suicide to say anything critical about the foreign and domestic policy of Israel. And this lack of debate is perhaps some of the most dangerous methods of silencing real criticism. Because there are real idiots out there, who are Holocaust deniers and frauds, but labelling anything that’s critical that will put the world community in a position where you will not be able to tell the difference one day and that is not only alienating it’s defeating the purpose of defensive mechanism that Jewish people technically have to determine who is a real Anti-Semite. When it comes to Romney, there are so many people on the Right wing (not even the left) who despise him; they don’t see him as a real Christian, since in his Mormon Faith they believe that Jesus Christ was not the last prophet but that a man named Joseph Smith from the 1800′s was a prophet from God. The conservative elements of the society here are very religious and they are barely warming up to the premise of him as president, but I think that ultimately it will be decided in swing states. But fundamentally this process of choosing a candidate has hurt Romney by giving Obama a head start but his debate stumbling has closed a little bit of the gap.

How are your other projects outside of music coming along?

The orphanage in Afghanistan is doing great. The scholarship program is almost complete. The (R)evolution of Immortal Technique did great and like I said The Martyr had over a million downloads and The Middle Passage is coming along.

What are you currently working on?

Being happy. I heard that it’s a lifelong struggle. haha

Buy tickets for the Return of the Rebels tour

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