Posts tagged ‘Cali’

No faking Jacks: Shawn Jackson interview

What can I say, this man seems to have a plan. Cali resident, part-time chef & a well-kept secret for several years…don’t shhhh about Shawn Jack’s music any longer though: tell your friends & check the mixtape which just dropped – it’s a teaser for the new album “Brand New Old Me” (tres records).


Tell us about yourself: where are you based, what are you up to these days?

What up ya’ll…I go by the name of Shawn Jackson a.k.a. Angelo Mariani based out of Lost An Jealous, CA but can easily be found sleeping on a couch someone near you throughout my travels. As far as what I’m up to…well, basically just getting my apparel together to hunt some ducks in the game. I think it’s the season so I’m gearing up to drop some nu nu on ya’ll real soon entitled “Brand New Old Me”.

Do you remember the first record / mixtape you got when you were younger? What are your memories on the time you first heard music?

Man, I grew up on so much soul music as a kid being that it was just me and my moms and that’s mainly what she was into.  But at the same time I grew up with hip hop so I’ve always had that balance and walked with a hip hop soul mentality throughout my journeys.  The first record I remember moms buying me was Tom Tom Club “Genius Of Love”. I used to dance back then..I was pretty good too!  Dancing was mainly what introduced me to hip hop as a child since it was such a NY thing at the time.

What kind of music can you never listen to, under any circumstances? Anything that gets on your nerves?

I really couldn’t pinpoint a particular genre or style of music that I wouldn’t listen to. I used to say country until I got put on to some classic country music that was dope. Those artists are pretty honest..haha. I can’t say all bad music because so many of them become guilty pleasures as well as fit in certain social settings. I guess pointless music of any genre is pretty unbearable to me. There’s way too many people that get the opportunity to get on a microphone but don’t hold themselves responsible enough to express artistry.

You’ve moved from different places (Inglewoood, Rhode Island, L.A.) – are you a travelling kind of dude?

Yeah man…I’ve definitely trotted the globe throughout my life. It definitely provided me with a balance. I grew up in the inner city within a large metropolis, small towns with only one market and 2 gas stations to offer, and lived off of chicks in the burbs throughout my life…so needless to say, my unbalanced lifestyle has become my balance. It’s cool because so many places have so many traits and I’m familiar with a lot of them in regional terms. I no longer live off of girls by the way.

What’s the furthest you’ve been away from home? What were your impressions?

The furthest I’ve been from home was Ireland…they were so chill and just genuinely nice people. It didn’t seem real. I can normally find at least one asshole in a crowd of people but I had no such luck there.

What do you like best about living in Cali and why?

I love the options in Cali. You can make everyday an adventure there. You can get on your plastic shit or you can even risk your life and stumble in the wrong hood if you’re ballsy to test out your new sneakers. Either way there’s always a story to tell. I wanted to say the weed but I figured every MC from Cali you ask will have that on their list. The greenery is amazing though.

What can you say about your new record? Quite a few producers got involved, new directions for Shawn Jackson?

The new album is definitely a new direction for me. It’s dope though because I actually had the gonads to just go for it. I have a lot of new producers on the album with new sounds mixed with a few producers from the first album so there are still certain elements that create a bridge from “First Of All…” to “Brand New Old Me”. No matter how new the sound is though you still get that same Shawn Jack…just a little more perfected.

Tell us something people might not know about you…

Something people may not know about me…hmmmm…..well, I can cook pretty good and I love doing it. I like cheffin up something new because it’s still creations that people can sit with and enjoy. Only difference is I’m not hoarse afterwards.

Anything else you want to get out there?

Your boy is back…get ready for some treats. “Brand New Old Me” dropping in a hot minute.


May 11, 2010 at 09:44 1 comment

South Asian CNN: a message from Chee Malabar / Himalayan Project

Chee Malabar is part of the group Himlayan Project out of California. He was born in India and moved to San Francisco as a teenager, tuning into the hip hop sounds that were around him. These days, Chee is working on his next album ‘The Burning Tire Artisan’ and is a part of that, unfortunately, rare breed of MCs who use their art to get a message across.

His music sure reached me..I hope it does the same for you. Keep up with his thoughts at the Himalayan Project blog.


Who’s involved in Himalayan Project? What’s your mission as artists?

Himalayan Project consists of Rainman and myself, and by extension, our producers, Zeeb and Scott. We’ve made 3 full length albums together.  Zeeb and I have also recorded 2 albums under ‘Oblique Brown’–where he handled all the production and I was the sole emcee.

I don’t know if we have a specific mission, but I guess it has always been about making truthful music and being honest to our experiences as young men in America.

Your lyrics are meaningful and poetic – do you feel it’s important to get things off your chest when you’re speaking to an audience?

Sure.  I view music as a tool for self expression and the hope is that in my music perhaps someone can find their own lives reflected in some small way. I never want to talk down to my audience and say “hey, here look and listen to me”. It’s about finding those common threads that make us all human and the hope is that I can make someone relate or perhaps offer a different prism to view their lives through, even for a brief moment.

How do you feel about musicians such as Public Enemy, The Last Poets or Gill Scott-Heron who pushed a message with their music at the time? Is that still relevant to you in 2010?

I love Public Enemy and The Last Poets. Their music, along with artists like Ice Cube, The Coup, and Paris made me listen really close and examine they way I thought about the world.  As far as its relevance, I think it all comes down to where the listener is at in their own lives. And of course, if the music is good, it’s relevant. The message alone can’t trump the sonic aspects of said record. But yes, I do have a soft spot for artists who offer alternative messages in their art.

In what way is hip hop important to you as an alternative type of media?

Hip Hop is what piqued my interest in the wider world.  When I fell into it, I began to view the world through my fave rappers eyes. I see the power it has over the teens and young adults I work with. At its best, it is a great jumping off point for diving into the larger world and examining society, and perhaps now more than ever, the global world.

What about ‘spoken word poetry’: are there any poetry slams or similar events that you’re involved in?

I’m involved with a non profit called ‘Street Poets, Inc.‘  I hold writing workshops at youth correctional facilities and we do put on monthly spoken word events.

You have also given lectures at university on race and identity, is that your day job? What did you recently speak about in class? Have you learnt a lot yourself from the teaching experience?

I don’t necessarily give lectures. I’ve been blessed in that our music has made their way into some college curriculum and lesson plans and the often we get invited by professors and universities to perform and speak.  My most recent enagements were at Bard College and UCLA and we spent a good deal of time discussing identity formation through hip hop and the various complexities of race relations. I’ve learned an immense amount about myself, for sure.

I have learned a great deal from the people I’ve met, about their varied experiences, and in turn, it inspires me to keep doing what I’m doing.

What can you tell us about your own family heritage and South Asian background / growing up in San Francisco? Was there a lot of music around, how did you get interested in MCing and writing?

I immigrated to the States when I was almost 12 to San Francisco. Almost everyone in my neighborhood and school listened to hip hop music and so it was natural that I’d listen as well. I got interested in emceeing because it was a cheap alternative to purchasing a guitar or any music instrument. Listening to emcees like Ice Cube, Paris, Hiero, and Digable Planets was key for me.  I wanted to tell my own story and they made me feel that I was okay to do so.

Would you describe yourself as a political person, hence the a.k.a. ‘The Burning Tire Artisan’?

I’m not sure that I’m a ‘political’ person.  I’m interested in learning about society.  I’m interested in learning about people at the margins of society.  Being an immigrant and having had my own struggles and then being exposed to tools to talk about it, has made me lean towards examining it in my music and life.

What are some of your favourite records?

Most recently I’ve been listening to ‘Fair & Kind’–A Little Past Twilight and Ardamus’ ‘When Everything Goes Wrong’.  Both are good friends of mine, but I think they’ve made really great records.
I’m also diggin’ Jay Electronica’s music.
As far as my all time faves: ‘No Need for Alarm’: Del, “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted’: Ice Cube, “Illmatic”: Nas, “Soul on Ice”: Ras Kass, “Blueprint”: Jay-Z

What’s Chee Malabar up to next?

I’m finishing up a record with Ali Abidi entitled ‘The Burning Tire Artisan’…and I’m also doing a record with Scott Koozner who had his hand in all the HP stuff..and hopefully this year another Oblique Brown album.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Thanks for supporting us. Check for the Oblique Brown and Himalayan Project albums if you haven’t peeped them yet.  They’re available on iTunes. Also, be on the lookout for Chee Malabar’s ‘Burning Tire Artisan’ LP. Thanks for your time.


March 28, 2010 at 16:11 Leave a comment

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