Interview with Sherman Austin: The Rap We Need

RHHR: Introduce yourself…

SA: My name is Sherman Austin, I’m a Hip-Hop artist, organizer, I do, Raise the Fist Radio & Direct Action Network,, and anything else I have enough time to do, I’ll do it.

RHHR: How long have you been writing rhymes and making your music?

SA: I started rapping, really, when I got out of prison. I did a year in Federal Prison because of my site,, the FBI basically set me up and accused me of authoring a page on explosive information that they knew somebody else authored, so to make a long story short, they set me up and I did a year in prison. When I got out of prison I was on 3 years probation so I couldn’t touch a computer at all, which meant I couldn’t do at all, I couldn’t even use an iPod actually! So while I was in prison I started getting a little bit more serious on writing my material and kinda thinking about what I wanted to do when I got out. One of the main things I wanted to do was try and find another medium to communicate information and a message to get across to people because I could no longer do that through, so I thought well I’m just gonna move to the next best thing, I’m already a musician, I’ve play the drums since I was 9 years old, and I had always been doing beats here and there and stuff like that since I was like 14 or 15, but when I got out I kinda got more serious about it and started producing beats, which was pretty hard because I couldn’t use a computer, so just did everything analog onto a cassette. I did a little mix-tape and then I started working on an album which took about 3 years including the year I was in prison because I was kinda working on it in there as well. I released that in May of 06 and it’s called Silence is Defeat, it’s got 13 tracks on it and the whole album I’m trying to articulate a message that’s hard to articulate through words because words can only say so much and I think when you put it in a form of art, especially music, especially Hip-Hop, you can also articulate the feelings, the emotions, the rage and all the other stuff that comes with it. That’s what I’m doing right now with my music and Hip-Hop.

RHHR: Besides creating and performing Hip-Hop music, how do you use Hip-Hop to organize?

SA: I think the best way is to mobilize the youth and get the youth to come out to a particular event to support a certain cause, whether its police brutality or a political prisoner or something like that. Certain Hip-Hop artists have a lot of pull and they’ve used that to try and get people to come to events and try and gain support and raise funds for certain organizations. Hip-Hop is very alive in the youth and in LA, a lot of youth can relate to Hip-Hop, they relate to the message, they relate to the sounds, they relate to the beats. So it’s a really good tool to try and mobilize youth with. Unfortunately the corporations and radio stations know that and they’ve used it to really flip it on a whole new level and push some garbage out there that is distracting the youth and distracting the people and we gotta overcome that and counter that with some Revolutionary, Real, Raw Hip-Hop out on the streets.

RHHR: How is the Revolutionary, Real, Raw Hip-Hop scene in LA?

SA: I’ve lived in LA my whole life and there’s a lot of underground Hip-Hop artists in LA, and a lot of really good ones too, that a lot of people just don’t know about. I think it has a lot of potential to really become more that just music. I think it has the potential to become an actual movement where we don’t just go out and do a show, but going out there and getting people to come to our particular place, while doing a show, and then incorporate some level of intensive organizing into these events and these shows, where we can get these people organized and get people involved in certain organizations and different things we want to do in the community. We already have it where we can get people to an event, we gotta take it to the next level now, where we can get people to an event and get them involved in an organization and start building some real movements in our communities.

RHHR: Anything you want to add?

SA: Come to LA when you can. LA is a big city, it’s really spread out. You got East LA, North-East LA, you got the Valley. I’m originally from the Valley, I’m originally from North Hollywood, I lived in Long Beach, I live in Compton right now. Come to South LA, there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in South LA right now, a lot of police repression, gang injunctions, a lot of youth being criminalized by the police. Again, it brings it back to Hip-Hop, how can we use Hip-Hop to organize the youth and mobilize the youth and fight this and counter this and do whatever we can to fight these gang injunctions and the way these police continually criminalize the youth and don’t give them a chance, then they wonder why they join gangs. There’s a lot of shit going on in LA…

RHHR: Yep, the same shit is going on in Modesto and all through the Central Valley…

SA: Its every city, I took a road trip to New York and I noticed every single city I went through had a ghetto. There was rich and then there was poor and that’s how this country works, it’s a rich-war economy and we have to build a movement to fight that by any means necessary.

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Categories: LA Hip-Hop


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