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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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July 2010 - January 2013
Paris Discusses Obama, Hilton
Thursday, December 18, 2008

Paris has always been an outspoken emcee, and one unafraid to tackle political issues from a radical and revolutionary perspective. Coming off of one of the most celebrated presidential elections in American history we felt there would be no better person to speak with about the future of our government than him, which is why this week I caught up with Paris to ask him about his thoughts on Barack Obama, whether he feels change is really possible within the system, and why he had to sue Paris Hilton in an emcee versus heiress showdown.

Adam Bernard: Barack Obama won the election and will be our next president. So clearly this means the streets will be filled with unicorns and rainbows, all our worries will be cured, and racism is over with, right?
Paris: To some people. Some people feel that is, in fact, gonna be the case, but there’s always work to do. He’s one man and honestly I don’t know enough about him to know where his allegiances lie. Being a diehard progressive and very liberal in my values it’s kind of disheartening to see him not be rabid about trying to undo what the GOP has done. I’m not really somebody that is excited about reconciliation and reaching across the aisle. I’m actually out for blood and I wish that the incoming administration shared that same viewpoint, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case at all.

Adam Bernard: Do you feel we’re moving in a new direction in any way, shape, or form?
Paris: Yeah, man, shit there’s nowhere to get but up when you’re down. {laughs} I’m optimistic about the future only because it’s so bad right now that it has to get better. The markets have to get better, the economy has to improve, job situations have to get better, social interactions among people have to get better, and our standing in the world has to get better. We’re at absolute rock bottom right now.

Adam Bernard: I’m glad you brought up social interaction because as a white guy I know a lot of white people who, when they say something dumb, will then immediately follow it with “it’s cool, I have a Black friend,” and I have a feeling “it’s cool, I voted for the Black president” is going to be the new crutch.
Paris: I think Barack Obama’s election is now going to give people license to feel as though, as you stated earlier with your opening statement, that everything is cool and racism is over and we’re on a new page and it’s a new day. While his achievement is noteworthy there’s still a lot of work to do. There’s still a lot of inequality that exists. There’s still great disparity in opportunity amongst different types of people. It’s important to continue that fight for social justice. I know I sound a lot like a politician when I’m talking, but it’s true, there are definitely talking points that need to be brought up all the time, repeatedly, no matter what, even in the face of adversity. I say in the face of adversity because there are a lot of people who would like to say somebody, for example, like me, that makes the records that I make and has a stance that’s often viewed as incendiary, is out of touch with the times, or like there’s no reason for this type of material, there’s no reason for this type of sentiment, to come out now. Nothing could be further from the truth. Now it’s the time more than ever to hold people’s feet to the fire.

Adam Bernard: How would a happy nation affect your work? Do you need turmoil to be artistic?
Paris: No, not at all. And honestly, the kind of material I do to a larger extent is constricting, so there’s a certain lane that I feel like I have to stay in because things exist the way they are. As long as the conditions exist in our community, as long as we’re constantly at war with countries of color globally in a kind of ongoing, nonstop, fashion, as long as these things exist, yeah, as long as government corruption exists and as long as people continue to suffer, I’ll keep doing what I do.

Adam Bernard: And you have a feeling that that’s gonna be something that sticks around for a while.
Paris: Yeah, it’s not going anywhere. Even if there is some type of a real grassroots change scenario initiated in DC it will still take a long time to filter down.

Adam Bernard: I know “change” was a big keyword during the election, but can change really happen within the system?
Paris: It can as long as the entities in power don’t try to be all things to all people. You can’t look out for the disenfranchised and those who are disillusioned and the poor at the same time that you look out for corporate big wigs, it’s not possible, it’s an oxymoron. Somebody has to lose and those who have been in power for the longest just don’t want to lose. You see billion dollar corporations crying the blues right now as we speak in senate hearings trying to get corporate bailout money.

Adam Bernard: And flying private jets to the hearings.
Paris: Yeah. As long as that type of mentality exists it’s gonna be difficult for the Joe the Plumber types. Joe the Plumber is actually a poor example because he’s not an average person, but it’s gonna be more and more difficult for those who are unable, and who have been unable, to get a leg up over these last eight years, and really over this last generation, to advance.

Adam Bernard: Joe the Plumber had to have the worst fifteen minutes of fame ever.
Paris: All that shit was a plant anyway. Talk about not vetting the person you want to focus on. To not be named Joe and to not be a plumber and to not pay your taxes, whatever, that’s just a perfect example of GOP sloppiness and arrogance and shortcomings.

Adam Bernard: Obama’s election does mean a black man is the popular man in America. This has to mean for us as a country and a people, right?
Paris: Of course, but for those who are in opposition to Barack Obama you can squarely place the blame on his ascension to power on George Bush. {laughs} You can be like he fucked it up so much for everybody that he made it actually possible for Barack Obama to be elected. I guess there’s some silver lining to that cloud.

Adam Bernard: Let’s get to your music. Tell me about your latest album, Acid Reflex.
Paris: Acid Reflex is intended to raise awareness and to start dialogue and have people questioning what’s going on and hopefully demand more from an entertainment medium that a lot of people think is brain-dead.

Adam Bernard: Obviously as an entertainer you know the entertainment medium isn’t brain-dead, but percentage-wise, how much is brain-dead and how much isn’t brain-dead?
Paris: It’s all subjective and you gotta take into account the fact that the genre of Hip-Hop really is broken down into a lot of different subsections and that now the type of Hip-Hop people are most familiar with is pop music. It’s Hip-Pop. The things that you hear on the radio, these kind of fantasy, sex, drugs and rock n roll type fairytales that people talk about all the time in the music, a lot of these fantasies are just that and they don’t really reflect people’s actual existence and I just wanted to take what I do in a different direction and to keep my interpretation of the art form honest and to empower others who feel as I feel to be able to be heard. That’s why Guerrilla Funk was created.

Adam Bernard: I was about to say you also created the Guerrilla Funk label.
Paris: Right, and we’re now distributed by Fontana Universal, which gives me a little bit of elbow room that I wouldn’t otherwise have, although it’s still very difficult to be heard in an indie environment. Even though I have a Universal subsidiary backing it, it’s still an indie based environment and just existing on the actual sale of music has become a more and more difficult endeavor because there is now a generation of people who are accustomed to getting music for free and feel a sense of entitlement in that regard. It’s challenging to say the least.

Adam Bernard: And the indie scene has become really crowded by the fact that now everyone seems to be able to make music with their computer. I hate to use the word combat, because it may not be right, but is there any way to combat this?
Paris: I don’t want to combat it, I just think it’s necessary to note that musical taste is now kind of being dictated by mob rule, the same thing with video offerings. Mob rule basically means things are becoming dumbed down and cheapened and less valued, and these cheaper, substandard, offerings are becoming the norm. So if you watch YouTube videos all day and they’re all shitty and pixilated and they sound like shit, at a certain point in time that becomes the accepted norm, it becomes the accepted quality standard, and that’s the main thing that I’m concerned with. Not so much that there are a lot of people out there that want to be heard, I think that’s a good thing, but I think that quality overall suffers. People don’t realize that mp3s aren’t the same as CD quality audio and when people become accustomed to hearing to mp3s just out of convenience, just because they want to share a bunch of music in a hurry, I’m just concerned that the music that I create and the music that other people create who are actually concerned about crafting the best possible product and who are audiofiles is gonna get lost in the shuffle. It’s not possible to really combat it, and I don’t think I would really want to combat it, but it’s definitely necessary to seek out other forms of revenue and supplement it. That’s all.

Adam Bernard: It’s funny you mention YouTube because I always laugh when someone tells me they don’t watch TV but they watch a ton of videos online.
Paris: Exactly. That’s the equivalent of oftentimes having an HDTV and watching bootlegs. What is the purpose? I understand people want easy access, of course, I completely get it, but it’s headache inducing a lot of times.

Adam Bernard: So with album sales down touring and merchandising become big options, but have you found other avenues to make money with your craft?
Paris: You know I actually don’t really care to tour that much. When I tour I want to go somewhere that’s actually interesting to me, that’s why I tour overseas a lot when I do tour. Merchandising, I still sell a ton of that, so that helps a lot, but the really big ongoing cash generator is licensing. That is the one main perk about owning your catalogue and controlling what you do, that you have the ability to license your material and put it in TV and movies and video games, and I’ve been really effective at doing that, so that’s been beneficial.

Adam Bernard: Those ASCAP checks keep rolling in when TV shows go into reruns.
Paris: Yeah, and if you get the right supervisors on board with you and develop certain relationships it can really be a good situation because they repeatedly are gonna go back to the well.

Adam Bernard: Finally, what would Paris the emcee say to Paris Hilton?
Paris: That’s funny because I had to sue that bitch. {laughs}

Adam Bernard: Really?!?!
Paris: I did. I had to initiate lawsuit proceedings for trademark violation, believe it or not. I had to back her up off me a little bit because she started doing albums. It was really the fact that if Paris does an album and Paris Hilton does an album they’re coming from polar opposite places, but the fact that she started having Hip-Hop producers and rappers on her shit and all that started muddying the waters and her album was simply called Paris, there was an issue at retail with records being in the bins and being in the same bin, so she has to list her projects as Paris Hilton. It’s funny you would bring that up.

Adam Bernard: So you got a win out of that!
Paris: Well, it didn’t even get that far. It was just the threat of it all was enough to force the hand, so to speak.

Related Links

Website: guerrillafunk.com
MySpace: myspace.com/guerrillaparis


posted by Adam Bernard @ 1:47 PM  
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