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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 – Spear of the Nation
Monday, October 08, 2007

Originally from LA, but now hailing from Oakland, Spear of the Nation is both an MC and a teacher. He recently released Spiritalk, an album filled with thought provoking funk, and he also started his own K through second grade school, Spiritworks Academy. As a youth Spear of the Nation was drawn to Hip-Hop after hearing Kool Moe Dee’s “How You Like Me Now,” and now as an adult he has a goal of building leaders both through his music and through his work with his school. This week I managed to catch him when he wasn’t with the kids or in the studio to find out more about his music, what he’s learned through his travels, and why he feels the phrase stay in school should also apply to big name rappers such as 50 Cent and Jay-Z.

Adam Bernard: You have a very interesting name. Tell me how you came to be Spear of the Nation and what it means to you.
Spear of the Nation: My name is Sizwe and that translates to Spear of the Nation. As I got older I really understood why my parents named me Spear of the Nation and I think they even saw like wow, this is more than a name, this is actually a movement. It has its origins in South Africa. The Spear of the Nation was the militant wing of Nelson Mandela’s organization. I found this out about four years ago, so a lot of the songs and a lot of the movement that was happening in South Africa around that time had to do with revolutionary music. They weren’t really out there fighting, but they were using the vibration of the music to uplift people and to strike fear in the hearts of their enemies. I’m definitely trying to be that spear out here and represent something different. You’re not going to find too many “niggas” and “bitches” in my music because I feel there’s enough of that. We need to speak to the masses, but if we keep speaking to them like they’re ignorant we’re never gonna lift up.

Adam Bernard: On your album, Spearitalk, you rhyme in languages other than English. What went into the decision to give foreign language Hip-Hop to an American audience?
Spear of the Nation: I produced half the album in France. My wife’s brother knew this guy in France that was trying to bring some American artists out there to kind of do an exchange. So I linked up with this cat Jeff LeNerf and later came to find out he’s one of the biggest MCs out there right now as far as Paris is concerned. To put it in a nutshell, I truly feel blessed. How everything came together as far as the album, as far as the people I was able to meet and people I continue to meet. It’s definitely Spearitalk. It’s like I meet these people spirit first and they turn out to be lifelong connections. I had a criticism of the album being too conscious and I was like I can’t really change who I am. When you hear the album that’s who I am, Spear of the Nation.

Adam Bernard: You’re teaching the youth, you’re attempting to make positive movement forward. If you could affect just one change in your community, or the world overall, what would that change be?
Spear of the Nation: I want people to have the confidence to know that they can achieve and not continue to settle. I feel we’re given images by society or the world and we consume them and run with them like that’s who we really are. I want to give the people something stand for. I want to give them something to be proud about. I want to try to put systems in place for our next generations of people and I know when you have a mic in your hand you tend to have a little bit more influence so I’m definitely trying to utilize that, as well. And it’s not just a black thing, or a white thing, it’s a world thing, it’s a human thing and the more I travel that’s the one thing that I do appreciate. I was really big on race when I was younger growing up in America, but the more I traveled overseas, I’ve been to Africa, I’ve been to France, I’ve been to London, and it’s like really we’re the only ones really tripping on that. There’s a lot going on, but really outside the world they embrace you in a different way. I feel like a lot of things here are real external and when I was traveling people felt my heart first. A lot of people didn’t even know I was from America. That was shocking.

Adam Bernard: With you wanting to instill confidence what do you think of the government programs that attempt to help, but only financially?
Spear of the Nation: I think it’s the Band-Aid effect. You’ve been psychologically abused, you’ve been emotionally abused, this pair of Nikes isn’t going to change everything that just happened to you even though they’re making you feel good right now. They’re giving you that esteem boost because you feel like you got something fly on and people will respect you more. I feel like we got to flip that whole image, brother, we got to flip that whole image around.

Adam Bernard: How can we do that? What should we try to cut back on to fit in those potentially community altering activities and ideas?
Spear of the Nation: We gotta own more, I think, is really what it is. What I would cut back on is TV. I would try to get more into the prayers, more into self, to be more physical, stop pointing the finger, stop blaming everybody, I don’t want to hear about the white man right now. I don’t want to hear about anybody but the individual that’s making the things happen. Really, I feel we’re getting to the point where it’s easier to say what someone’s not doing than what we can do to make something else happen. I have another vision, too. You know what I want people to do? What if we just said no? What if we said we don’t want to do this anymore? We don’t want to buy food from this grocery store, we want all organic food. We don’t want to watch these programs. We don’t want this music on the radio. Everybody in the world turn off the radio until we get what we want. The problem with it is it takes a lot of sacrifice and we’ve been conditioned to want everything immediately and we all know anything worth having you gotta work hard for. I’m just really trying to be the change, that’s why I opened the school. I’ve been teaching in the independent school system for seven years so I know the importance of the work that we do. This is our second year as Spiritworks Academy and I hope it continues. I like working with the young people because I feel sometimes that by the time they hit junior high it’s too late. The most important thing is children have to know they’re beautiful, children have to know they’re capable and children have to know that they can achieve and they’re OK. Like an elder told me, everybody just wants love, man. That’s truly the bottom line. People can front like they don’t, but everybody wants to be loved. Whether it be a hug, whether it be through appreciation, whether it be through anything, folks just want to know that acceptance peace of being accepted. A lot of these youth I’m dealing with come form broken homes, split households, so they’re already dealing with certain things, issue, coming into the school, so my goal is how do I smooth that out and let them know that they’re still OK?

Adam Bernard: How can Hip-Hop, and your music in particular, help to get this goal accomplished?
Spear of the Nation: It should be mandatory for 50 Cent and Jay-Z to go to those schools and go talk to those youth. I’m saying the same thing over here with E-40. You know about the whole hyphy movement, but I’m the one working with the youth. Now it ain’t just me, don’t let me twist you up, but one thing I’ll tell ya I don’t see E-40, I’m not seeing Keak Da Sneak. I love these dudes, they’re good brothers, they make good music, but when you’re telling the youth one thing and you’re not showing them another thing it’s just leaving them confused. “Oh I’m about my paper,” OK, be about your paper, but I know your child goes to a private school. I’m just trying to wonder what you’re really talking about. It’s just confusion right now.

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/sizweabakah


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:48 AM  
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