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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 - T-Weaponz
Monday, September 29, 2008

The name T-Weaponz, which is short for Tomorrowz Weaponz, is meant to represent the coming of a new era. That era would be one of Hip-Hop that is both pleasing to the ears and good for the soul and Psalmz, Ark and IzReal (pictured L to R) are the three emcees of T-Weaponz that are working hard to usher it in. Ark and IzReal are brothers and after meeting Psalmz while in high school the three of them decided to form a group and start recording together. Over the years the Brooklyn trio has received a lot of love from Mun2, as well as a number of other Spanish language media outlets. This week, however, we’re keeping things in English as I caught up with all three members of T-Weaponz to discuss their work, their thoughts on the segregation of Latin Hip-Hop from the mainstream, and their campaign to find "XtraOrdinary" women.

Adam Bernard:
Let’s start by finding out who’s who in T-Weaponz. What are each of your unique personality traits and how is everyone's individuality expressed in their rhymes?
Ark: Well, before I say what makes us different I will start off by saying what makes us the same; we work really hard! We also share the same outlook on life, but are separated by our own needs and wants. Though we all come from the same hood we focus on three different perspectives on life, so you might hear IzReal being more of the O.G., giving you P & Qs, while Psalmz gives you a view from a first person perspective and I'll paint the scenery and background for you to finish off the musical painting.
IzReal: Ark is the flow and word play master. Psalmz is the deeper, poetic MC. I’m the blunt, “tell it like it is,” MC. These traits stand out in the music and you can tell right away who is who.

Adam Bernard: Mun2 has been great to you, especially in the past year. Mun2, however, is a Latin network. Do you feel Latin Hip-Hop is segregated from the mainstream, and if so what can be done about this?
Ark: I believe it was segregated before and surprisingly still is. I also believe this can change once there are more than just a handful of Latin platinum artists in the game. Then people can stop labeling us as "Latino" rappers.
IzReal: Really, it's just a matter of a Latin English speaking MC getting the budget, whether indie or otherwise, needed to compete with labels who are paying mucho dinero to get videos aired on MTV, BET, etc.
Psalmz: The only difference between “Hip-Hop” and “Latin Hip-Hop” is the ability to pull from another language, Spanish. Urban culture also plays a role in Hip-Hop, it could be a bridge that unites us all, but sometimes it’s not and there’s still a need to make “Latin Hip-Hop” something different. We still gotta get there. Most typical rappers rap about what they see or have lived through and so do “Latin” rappers. There is a relation because poverty, struggle etc. doesn't favor one type of people. The problem is that we don't understand each other and labels do not know how to translate this step, or know how to bridge that gap, so artists must do it themselves.

Adam Bernard: Big Pun was the last Latin emcee to really hit it big. What strides do you think have been made for Latin emcees since his passing, or have any strides been made at all?
IzReal: I think Latinos in Hip-Hop, a term my boy Sano put me up on, have regressed since his passing. The reggaeton movement definitely created exposure for Latin artists, but it also suppressed the progress of the Latin Hip-Hop movement. It's only now that it is coming back to the light. However, with the fact that the English speaking Latino is the fastest growing demographic in this country, it is only a matter of time… if not sooner with T-Weaponz here {laughs}… before our voice gets heard.
Psalmz: I would never take anything away from Big Pun's accomplishments, but I have to agree, since he passed no significant strides have been made, mainly because of copycat and know-shit record labels. As soon as Big Pun and other Latin artists bloomed there was a major Latin-signing boom, but labels signed artists just because they were Latin, not necessarily because they were quality.

Adam Bernard: Moving to the ladies, you recently launched a campaign called "Are You X.O.," which is a search for "XtraOrdinary" women. What inspired this campaign and what, in your mind, makes a woman X.O.?
Ark: What inspired this campaign was the fact that in Hip-Hop the majority of women are looked down on as whores and gold diggers. I myself have been blessed enough to meet plenty of independent and ambitious women who don't need the assistance of a man to climb the ladder of success. This movement was designed for them, so X.O. girls can inspire more women to be more motivated and strive for more out of life besides being a wifey, no disrespect intended. Our women have been poorly depicted for too long.
IzReal: Latina and Black women are consistently put down, cast for “sexy” roles, but not the “lawyer” roles. We wanted to take a stand and celebrate the woman who can chill at the club and have fun with you AND get up the next day and go be a VP of a corporation, or a teacher, or a mother.

Adam Bernard: Is this campaign something you hope will show people there's more to women than just the stereotypical booty shaking video girl?
IzReal: Yes, but more importantly we pray it will show the younger girls, high school girls, etc. that they are X.O. The more they realize it the more their self-respect will grow and soon they won't let all the bullshit dictate their roles in the arts.
Psalmz: The problem is that we are stuck with this stigma that we need these things in our music, in our videos, or on album covers to attract attention and sell records. We get so caught up in this vicious cycle that it gets more explicit and daring to where we are destroying our own morals to make a hit and that's when it becomes a problem. Bottom line is that we NEED more conscious efforts from the more famous artists at once in order to create a new mind set, but in this world that's like telling the government to put a noose to the importing of illegal drugs, and that my friend will never happen. Too much money is at stake to shake it up at the top. So we do what we can.

Adam Bernard:
What other ideals do you hope to get across with your music?
IzReal: Diversity, because so often one song casts an artist, and intelligence, because you can be simple and still say something meaningful. Catchy doesn't necessarily mean vanilla. We may make a song that is catchy and that people will sing along to right away, but it will never be vanilla.

Related Links

Website: tweaponz.com
MySpace: myspace.com/tweaponz
YouTube: youtube.com/user/tweaponz
X.O. Women: twxoxo.com

Labels:

posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:31 AM  
5 Comments:
  • At 2:21 PM, Blogger T-weaponoids said…

    Great questions from a great journalist.
    Bless your path. Thanks for the opportunity.

     
  • At 4:14 PM, Blogger BuzzWorthy said…

    Very interesting blog, I'm glad you she light on the latin hip hop issues.

    Paz

     
  • At 11:59 PM, Blogger Red said…

    T-Weaponz are very insightful in the Latin Hip Hop market. They've been in the game since 2000 ("Raised In The Slumz" produced by The Alchemist), and they've kept it independent after all this time.

     
  • At 7:49 AM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    Thanks for the props. I'm glad so many folks are diggin this interview.

    It's kind of curious the way major magazines keep featuring morons when it's clear the smart artists are the ones that give the best interviews.

     
  • At 1:40 PM, Blogger BlueShoes Media said…

    smart artists = great interviews

    lol

    There's also a learning curve and most major labels don't really invest in preparing artist for the media. I'm not just talking about general media training; making sure they look good on camera and have bullet points memorized, I mean pulling their natural appeal and finding the interesting story they have to tell. It can't just be about the current single, there's got to be some depth! T-Weaponz does have substance and experience...plus GREAT music as a bonus.

     
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