The Outspoken Wordsmiths (An Interview)

RHHR: When did you guys start rhyming and beat-boxing? Blank Space: I was listening to rap music that I felt I wanted to hear some other things be said in the lyrics and so I started writing and then the more I read and experienced for myself the more I wanted to write, the more I was inspired to write, the more I watched other people rap and listened to their music the more I wanted to do that, but I couldn’t make the music with my resources. I didn’t have access to the money or the knowledge on how to make beats, so I got into beat-boxing. I’ve been beat-boxing behind people and years accumulate and you feel much more comfortable. That’s the short story of how I started writing and beat-boxing. Strong Cottonwoods: We met in 2005, we were both competing to be on Victoria’s first Slam Poetry team. I got into Hip-Hop more through spoken word and slam poetry, Saul Williams, and a good friend of ours Shannon Becky Greck who is really into spoken word and he wanted to start fostering a scene in Victoria so he set up a Slam competition to send a team to represent Victoria in the national Slam championships. So me and Blank Space were both competing to be on that team and that’s the first time we ever saw each other and we saw each other doing our thing and said ‘whoa that guys fucking cool.’ We eventually ended up living in the same community house and involved in a community arts event. BS: There were six people living in this place we moved into and five of us formed a group called the Beat-Boxing Pirates. Then three of us went on the road with it and called ourselves the Outspoken Wordsmiths with a third member named Dragon Boy, that was in 2005. In 2006 we went on our first tour together from Victoria to Halifax, all the way across the country. We spent a week to 3 weeks in each city for 6 months.

RHHR: What Canadian influences do you have? BS: I used to listen to mainstream music, but once I started becoming a little bit more political, more grassroots focused I found myself interested in C.R. Avery on the West Coast, he’s a beat-boxing, spoken-word artist. Since then I’ve gotten into EMC, from Nova Scotia, from the group The I.M.F. SC: B. Green for me, a guy from Ottawa Montreal, an independent Hip-Hop artist, I like SoSo, from Sakatoon, D.A.P., the Disappearing Amphibian Phenomenon, they’re a West Coast Hip-Hop duo. Testament and Illogik obviously. BS: The Peoples Poets have been influencing me a lot, they’re from Edmonton, it’s a four-piece group talking about Latin American revolution through Hip-hop, Spanish and English.

RHHR: What’s your message to the world, or at least to the RHHR readers? BS: Do it yourself. It can get done. Nobody else is gonna do it for you. Take the liberty to meet your own needs. If you want to see something done get on your feet, get your fingers working, get your brain working. Work with the people that you need to. Whether that’s touring, whether that’s making action, whether that’s making change, building your house, growing your food, stopping a train, whatever it is. SC: I think the lines have been drawn pretty clearly in term of the ongoing struggle and it’s not as simple as color lines. I think people need to recognize their common

Blank Space (left) & Strong Cottonwoods (right)

oppressor and work together with the allies in front of them and branch out and work with the allies that aren’t necessarily in front of them. Maybe there’s some kids at the university who are trying to do advocacy work and they want to network of people. It’s diversity of tactics. Maybe someone going and causing some property damage is gonna make a difference somewhere, and someone else having a community food co-op is gonna make a difference, and someone else having youth arts education and youth empowerment is gonna make a difference. I think it’s really important for each individual to recognize what their power is in relation to their specific position and their skills in their circumstances and take advantage of that to create positive change. Unless we change our neighborhoods, the big picture isn’t gonna change. Recognize that there’s a lot of people out there who are potential allies and when we past the divisionism, its divide and conquer right? If we’re in all these little pieces we can’t do shit, but if we form together in a bunch then we’re gonna make a difference. We all have some power, so join up together with some other fingers and make a fuckin fist.

RHHR: How do readers find out more? SC: We hooked up with the evil itunes so if you wanna get a copy of the CD, we’re on there. You can get the whole album for five bucks BS: That’s just if you wanna pay and support us, you can always get the tracks for free on myspace. SC: http://myspace.com/outspokenwordsmiths and you can always e-mail us at theoutspokenwordsmiths@gmail.com  

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Categories: International Hip-Hop

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