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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - A.D. the VOICE
Monday, September 17, 2007

When people look at A.D. the VOICE’s educational background the first thing they usually ask is “why is that guy a rapper?” A.D. was the first black Rhodes Scholar to graduate from Colgate University. He then moved on to Oxford University and Harvard Law. Hip-Hop, however, and the art of MCing, called to him the entire time. “I think for me Hip-Hop boils down to being the ultimate form of self-expression,” he explains, “and there is nothing I enjoy more in life than expressing myself.” After an impromptu appearance on stage with The Roots during a show at Colgate A.D. the Voice was hooked and Hip-Hop became added to the holy trinity of things he had done growing up in Schenectady, NY - books, basketball, and church. This week I caught up with A.D. the Voice to find out how higher education and Hip-Hop mix.

Adam Bernard: With your incredible educational background why did you decide that picking up a mic and being and MC was the right career path for you?
A.D. the VOICE: In many ways my educational background was the pre-condition for my desire to ultimately become an MC. The idea of being a professional MC really didn’t hit me until I realized my extensive education put me in a position to express myself not only as an intellectual, but also as an agent for change committed to the idea of social justice and truth via collective-determination. For as long as I can remember I have envisioned myself before large crowds. I have pictured myself motivating and inspiring people to act, to believe in their own power and challenge themselves to be better and in turn uplift the human race. When I applied to law school I did so more committed to the idea of empowering my voice through knowledge than based on the notion of becoming a lawyer. Even so, at the time I hadn’t allowed myself to fully process the idea of becoming a Hip-Hop artist. However, I think quite poetically, law school ended up not only giving me the knowledge I was seeking with respect to fully understanding the oppressive nature of our system of laws, but it also became the breeding ground for my brewing desire to express myself as a creative force. My time at Harvard forced me to really search within and determine the best way to fulfill my ultimate dream of inspiring a social movement. As a student I started to draw parallels between the role of the Church during the sixties and the potential role of Hip-Hop in generating a movement in today’s world, and as a man I began to listen to the voice within and accept my truth, that truth being I am an educated black man firmly rooted in, and committed to, the great legacy of those who came before me and gave their lives in an effort to challenge America to live up to its principles and ideals.

Adam Bernard: Where do you feel being an MC can take you that no other occupation can?
A.D. the VOICE: Being an MC allows me to completely, uninhibitedly, fearlessly, and passionately express myself, my vision, my hopes, and my dreams to the world, all of which are rooted in the notion that each of us has the power to be true to ourselves, to live for ourselves, and think for ourselves. Moreover, this message is most needed amongst our youth who will inevitably have to make choices about the path their life will take and the extent to which it truly reflects the voice within and what better medium than Hip-Hop, the predominate youth culture, to articulate this message of hope and belief in oneself? Moreover, on a personal level, I know of no other occupation that would enable me to live up to my full potential as a creative force. I am aware of no other occupation that is imbued with the warrior spirit residing in Hip Hop, no other occupation that is so quintessentially about overcoming, empowerment, and a relentless will to not just be, but also thrive against all odds. In short, if the Promised Land exists within, then Hip-Hop is the only occupation that can take me there.

Adam Bernard: In what ways do you feel all the hard work you put in during school is paying dividends when it comes to your musical career?
A.D. the VOICE: My passion in education was philosophy and political theory. To question and seek understanding of myself and the world very much defined my outlook as a student. In fine tuning this outlook I acquired a disciplined, reason-based approach to both ascertaining and articulating what is real and what is true. As a result I feel I am in a unique position in Hip-Hop to speak truth to power with unifying force, meaning I have the capacity to speak in universal terms about fundamentally human concepts and ideas that people of all shapes, sizes, and colors can relate to on a profound level. In essence, I believe I know what makes people tick beneath the surface. And much of this has to do with the years I spent studying how it is we come to know ourselves and the world we live in.

Adam Bernard: I checked out some of your work and you have a lot of messages you look to get across with your music. Tell everyone what some of those messages are, why they're important to you, and what you feel is the best way to get them to the people?
A.D. the VOICE: The overarching message/theme in my music is truth, the idea being that freedom is absent where there is no truth. Tied to this point is my belief that knowledge is the gateway to truth and truth the foundation upon which a belief in one’s own power stands. So in every instance (song) my mission is to articulate a truth, i.e. something rooted in knowledge that has the capacity to awaken and in turn empower the voice within each of us. To this end my messages reflect the everyday human struggle, what we as beings must overcome, and just the same, what we in virtue of being human have within us that allows us to overcome, so from poverty, racism, sexism, fear, violence, and hate, to equality, unity, hope, perseverance, strength and love. These messages are important to me because they are the building blocks of life, they are the fabric of our humanity. There is a quote I try to remember whenever I begin to write: “nothing human is foreign to me.” By keeping this in mind I try to write about the most human of conditions, those things we all can relate to by virtue of being human. At the most essential level this is what I believe music is all about, reaching out and touching the human soul breathing new life into that soul with every passing moment. And the best way to get these messages to the people is to communicate them in person, allow the people to see and feel the passion, the emotion, the commitment in me, and to be moved and inspired to embrace their own power and live life to the fullest on their own terms.

Adam Bernard: In addition to everything we’ve talked about, and on a much lighter note, I read you're a true to life baller. Talk to me about playing D-1 basketball. What were some of your greatest moments on the court?
A.D. the VOICE: I played ball my freshman and sophomore years of college. Basketball will always have a special place in my heart; it was my first true love. It was tough to walk away from the game, but in retrospect it really opened up the door for me in terms of completely accepting the capacity of my mind and what I could do with it. I could say the coach and his inability to relate to me as a young black athlete trying to also be a student was the reason I left, but in truth I think the main reason was that I was just ready to move on and expand my horizons. That being said, I have two really fond memories. The first was my freshman year. I was unable to suit up for the game, but I traveled with the team to the NCAA tournament when Colgate made it in as a 16 seed. Just being in the arena and experiencing the tournament as an athlete was unbelievable. To know that I was participating in something that I grew up watching and dreaming about gives me chills even today. The second memory took place in the Carrier Dome (Syracuse, NY). I grew up in upstate New York and my father, having attended Syracuse University, was a big fan of the basketball team. So to be on the floor of that gym on the opposing team was quite the experience.

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/adthevoice
MySpace: myspace.com/adthevoice1
Statik Ent: statikent.com
CDBaby: cdbaby.com/adthevoice
SonicBids: sonicbids.com/adthevoice


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:58 AM  
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