Interview with Hip Hop Artist Tha Truth

An anthem for the poor & dispossessed

Tha Truth has been rapping for nine years. Like many underground rap artists, he honed his skills by battle rapping. At the time his rhymes were filled with braggadocio and laced with what he saw and heard in everyday life. But he was approached by another artist who influenced him and impressed upon him to use his talent to question the things happening around him and to espouse the positive.

Hip hop artists Jay aka Tha Truth and<br>Colleen Hall.

Hip hop artists Jay aka Tha Truth and
Colleen Hall.

WW photo: John Catalinotto

Tha Truth set upon a sojourn and from this journey came his moniker and the realization that he affirms in the song “Universal Healthcare,” which is really an anthem for the poor and dispossessed. In the song the artist states, “It’s time for revolution/ we know the real terrorists/ war, greed, no healthcare and air pollution/ there is a solution … it don’t matter who/ what, why or where/ all people need universal healthcare.”

The entire CD, titled “Tha Civil Rights Movement Part II,” is a composition—written, produced and performed to inform and educate. The CD is quite a revelation. It is rare that an artist is able to display a full political vision and entertain. This is because the arts under capitalist society are a commodity and artists are made to bend to what is popular, which is manufactured by constant inundation by bourgeois media outlets of the superficial and distracting that affirm the capitalist system.

Tha Truth begins with a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “The time has come for America to hear

the truth.”

Tha Truth highlights the case of the Camden 28, Catholic anti-war activists who attempted to destroy draft cards at the Camden, N.J., draft board in 1971. The group had been set up by Bob Hardy, who was working with the FBI, which watched and raided the brave attempt by the activists to resist the draft and the imperialist war against the Vietnamese people.

In the CD the listener will find purely political music, dealing with corporate media, anti-LGBTQ hatred and global warming. Tha Truth uncovers widely held falsehoods.

This reporter was able to interview the artist, who performed at the Nov. 17 Workers World Party Conference on worldwide solidarity.

Larry Hales, WWP: Who were some of the artists you were listening to when you first began rapping?

Tha Truth: Group Home, Jeru Da Damaja. I pretty much just listened to hip hop and listened to mainstream stuff too.

WWP: How long have you been performing?

Tha Truth: I’ve been performing for a year but been rapping for nine years.

WWP: When did you start changing your content?

Tha Truth: It was around 1999-2000 when I met a conscious rapper who influenced me. I was trying to deal with a lot of leftover anger I had from a really messed up childhood that was filled with violence toward me. I never really had a father. And, at this time in my life, I guess I was looking for intelligent, strong male role models to look up to and I felt like I found that in reading books by and about Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. I was also inspired by reading about Jane Addams. I felt like I was starting to find a higher purpose for my life at this time … I started questioning stuff around me and the hypocrisy of some hip hop artists.

WWP: How did you start getting involved in the political struggle?

Tha Truth: My partner sparked political change in me. She was always protesting and being in the streets. I met her in 2003 as the war was starting in Iraq. I had kind of given up on trying to see change in the system and I was really jaded…. A lot of that was because of this job I had at that time…. I was trying to do something positive in working for a non-profit but the one I worked at for a couple years seemed to be more about exploitation of children and fund-raising than actually making kids’ lives better. Then I was working as a security guard at a hotel, aiming to protect people individually…. My fiancée kept encouraging me to get more involved politically because she liked my ideas and general principles I had shared with her from our conversations…. From there I started to get a lot more involved in the struggle and that influenced my music to get to the point of being as political as it is now. I left the security job and started teaching in a middle school for some time but felt limited by the curriculum, of course. I felt like I could combine my passion for wanting to teach about what’s really important with my passion for music and that led me toward my first album. I started watching documentaries. I began reading Workers World a year ago.

WWP: What do you think of the state of hip hop now, especially with all the criticism that has re-emerged after Don Imus’s racist and sexist comments?

Tha Truth: I think there is a lot of wasted potential in hip hop music. It could be a powerful force in the struggle for change. Now it’s guided by a corporate formula to make money. I think education needs to be interesting and creative to hold interest and that music can do that. It could be a huge catalyst.

WWP: Do you associate any artists of a different era to the era they performed and lived in?

Tha Truth: This is the only period I’ve lived in, but from history I think John Lennon was important in his time and Gil Scott-Heron.

WWP: You performed at a socialist conference. Do you consider yourself a socialist?

Tha Truth: Well, I haven’t, but I think with anything the intentions of the leaders are what is important.


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