Ten years ago Oscar Jackson, aka Paris the Black Panther of Hip Hop, got jammed up by the United States Secret Service when he decided to step up to the plate and set things off against former President George Bush, Sr. Folks may recall Paris' song 'Bush Killa' which depicts him assassinating the President as he is enroute in a parade. After the gunshots, the song kicks off into a funky head-nodding beat as Paris runs it down why he was a 'Bush Killa'. The record itself was a bold statement and set him apart from the hordes of other rappers who were kicking politics in their rhymes at the time.
I recall Paris performing that song in front of 22,000 people at a sold out Summer Jam concert in August of '92 here in the Bay Area. Before he did the song he stopped the music and gave a speech about racism. He talked about the concept of white world supremacy and how the entire planet was subjected to that particular system. Afterwards he dropped the song and 22,000 people stood up and cheered as he rolled along. Paris told the audience that his album 'Sleeping With The Enemy' would be coming out in a less then a month and for everyone to be on the look out.
It was his intention at the time to impact the upcoming '92 presidential election. At that time Paris was a Top 40 artist. His videos aired on MTV and BET. His records were played on commercial radio. He was always forthcoming in his interviews and exuded a good understanding politics. In '92 he was at a pinnacle in his career, and was set to do what many had hoped rappers in his position would do: say something meaningful and use his influence to make a difference. Kicking up dust around a presidential election was definitely going to make a difference.
Paris was continuing in the tradition of rap artists stepping up and making bold statements. Two years earlier, the rap world was shocked when NWA did the song "Fuck Tha Police" - a song that earned them a condemning letter from the FBI. Public Enemy shook things up the year before when they released their song and video "By The Time I Get To Arizona". This song dealt with that state's refusal to honor Martin Luther King's birthday. Here PE reenacted the assassination of Dr King and also had a fictional Senator's car get blown up. That fictional Senator was supposed to represent those elected officials who refused to go along with making King's Birthday a holiday. That action put PE in media and government crossfires as debates raged about the appropriateness of depicting violence against elected officials.
I recall being a part of several TV news discussions and debates about that song and its video. In fact if memory serves me correctly, Paris and I appeared on a local TV show called 'People Are Talking' where we discussed these types of topics. The question that had everyone concerned was will Hip Hop artists influence young people to go out and do what was shown in the videos.
Paris had succeeded in pushing the envelop even further. Earlier that year he made a trip to Cuba where he met 2Pac's exiled 'aunt'/ 'godmother' Assata Shakur and Fidel Castro. The trip would inspire some of the album's songs like: 'Assata's Song'. That action alone raised eyebrows and put Paris on people's radar screens. Songs like 'Bush Killa' and the album's original cover art which depicted Paris hiding behind a tree with a rifle ready to shoot the president put him over the top. He would eventually be forced to put that infamous picture inside the album jacket, but those collective statements earned him those visits from the US Secret Service.
To better understand the political climate at the time Paris performed 'Bush Killa' at Summer Jam, one has to take a closer look at the back drop. Back in the early 90s, many Bay Area Hip Hoppers took some bold stances around the start of the Persian Gulf War. Local rap artist Chill EB [he did all the Sega commercials] and Industrial rap group Consolidated did an anti-war song which appeared to their album 'Friendly Fascism'. The song was a take off the Edwin Star soul classic 'War'. It appealed to the progressive, alternative rock crowd.
Paris along with Sway and King Tech and Digital Underground came together and did a landmark song called 'Time For Peace' which resonated with cats in the hood and the urban audience. The groups came together in response to the unbalanced media coverage and pro-war sentiments that were being expressed by those who were in key positions to broadcast. The main culprit that inspired the "Time For Peace" song was a popular disk jockey named Rick Chase who did afternoons on urban/Hip Hop station KMEL. He was an older white guy who used his four-hour shift as a soap box to support the war effort to the exclusion of dissenting voices. He would do everything from play Bush speeches to play pro-war songs. He would hang up and clown anyone who called up on his show to oppose the Gulf War. This didn't fit well with many in the Hip Hop community, as well as the larger African American community which took issue with Bush, Sr, launching the war on the birthday of Martin Luther King.
The 'Time For Peace' track was a biting 4 minute song that featured newsclips of news commentators who had questioned Bush's motives for the war. Money B kicked off the first verse by telling everyone he was 21 and there was no way he was going to be drafted and fight a war in his name. Shock G followed by telling people the war effort was simply about oil. Paris came next and keenly pointed out the US' troubling domestic policies and how there was still rampant mistreatment of Black and Brown folks at the hands of the police. It was in this verse that Paris first uttered the term 'Bush Killa'. He rapped 'make way for P-Dog the Bush Killa-Black urban guerilla'. It was a line that definitely caught everyone's attention. Sway followed Paris and rapped about the discrepancies of the US' foreign policy. He noted how we refused to fight in South Africa and now wanted cats to fight in Kuwait. Humpty-Humpended the song with a statement that questioned people's sincerity.
'Time For Peace' got regular airplay here in the Bay Area and became real popular almost overnight. All three groups had hit records and high visibility in the Hip Hop community at that time. The sad part was it received very little press even within the Hip Hop media. There was no discussion. There were no interviews or anything like that. Other radio stations around the country refused to play the song even though it boosted a stellar line up of Hip Hop artists and had created a buzz. Record label politics prevented it from ever being commercially released. I recall personally sending copies of that song out and cats just not being able to play the song. The usual excuse given was it wouldn't fit the format.
This was the political lay of the land and by '92 when Paris performed "Bush Killa". He was definitely about the business of using Hip Hop as a tool to bring about some sort of social change. Many in the media continued to shun him and they definitely ignored the track. At the same time I distinctly remember many in the media asking why the so called 'Hip Hop generation' was not more engaged in politics. How ironic considering Paris was attempting to do more then just be involved. He was trying to use his visibility and popularity to do like Rakim and 'Move The Crowd' in a distinct political direction. I came to the conclusion that many in the media did not want an astute and outspoken Paris to come to the table and blast George Bush sr. and his policies.
His attempts to use as Hip Hop as a tool to influence the election were put on hold when he suddenly ran into 'problems' on getting the album released. 'Sleeping With The Enemy' was scheduled to drop in September/October of 92, but was delayed and delayed. It didn't come out till two months after the November '92 election. By then Bush was history as he lost to Bill Clinton and "Bush Killa" was no longer relevant.
'92 was the last year that Paris was allowed to perform at Summer Jam. It was also the last year that he got any sort of significant radio airplay. He went on to release a couple of more albums which contained some decent material that caused a buzz on the streets here in the Bay Area, but it was never translated to him having the widespread visibility and popularity he had in prior years. He would bounce by the station on a regular basis hawking his material. At one point he even brought the entire staff jackets as a show of gratitude for support in the past, but that was not enough to grant P-Dog access to the large urban community that was listening to the station in record numbers.
Tracks like "Assata's Song" which paid tribute to Black women, "Coffee Donuts & Death" which dealt with police brutality and the melodic "Days of Old" which reminded us of the more innocent times in our lives were ignored by many who at one time would not hesitate to play a Paris record. At that time it wasn't quite clear as to everything that was going on. Years later you realized Paris was a strong voice being silenced. It was in '92 that voices like Paris began to give way to what we now call "gangsta rap".
All these thoughts ran through my mind when a heavily muscled Paris swung through radio station KPFA the other day and did an interview on Hard Knock Radio. He came with new material in hand and a clear analysis and concerns about our current 'War on Terrorism'. Paris felt like the American public had been duped into believing a lot of lies and falsehoods being pushed forth by the current Bush administration. He explained that a traumatic mind is one that is easily influenced and that many brought into the hype. He noted that after September 11th people were traumatized and the Bush administration played upon people's fears and succeeded in pushing across already held agendas.
Paris explained that the first causality in the War on Terrorism was the 4th Amendment which protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures. He spoke about people being detained and the provisions in the Patriot Act that allow for the use of secret evidence. He predicted that next casualty will be the 1st amendment. Paris ran it down about media companies and their close affiliations with the Bush administration. He said they were being used to silence and control people on all sorts of levels. He explained that we can see this in the lack of diversity on TV and on the airwaves. Media consolidation is resulting in divergent voices being squeezed out. He pointed out how damn near every newscast from MSNBC to CNN runs the same story at the same time. Seemingly, every newscast gets their information from the same source- AP or Reuters. Every newscast brings forth the same set of 'experts' to tell us about the war efforts with little or no variation.
If things continue the way they are we will soon see Colin Powell's son, Michael Powell, who heads the FCC lift all the media ownership restrictions. The end result will be two or three media outlets owning all the newspapers, TV and radio stations. Paris noted that under these conditions if you start really speaking out on certain policies and calling out certain government officials, you can and will find yourself being black-balled in the industry, shut down and eventually removed.
Paris went on to explain that shortly after 9-11 it was important for the Bush administration not to have any dissenting voices get too much play or have high visibility. It was important for them to not allow people a chance to sit back and really think and analyze what was really going on. He pointed out there was a rush to push through policies and pass laws which resulted this administration having a blank check to do whatever it wants in this 'War on Terrorism'. Interestingly, Congresswoman Barbara Lee voted 'No' making her the lone voice in Congress for that same reason. She didn't want to issue a blank check. Now other elected officials are voicing concern about whether or not too much power had been granted to Bush, jr.
Paris pointed out that playing upon people's fears was one of the key methods employed to get the American public to comply. He noted that that pattern continues even now. Just when people start to sit back and start to heal, we are put back in that traumatic mind state with keenly timed 'terrorist alerts' and 'terrorist scares'. He felt that a lot of the alerts and scares were being done to keep up Bush's approval ratings and keep us from seeing what's really going on.
Paris took the conversation even deeper as he spoke about the relationship between Bush's father and Bin Laden via the Carlyle Group. He noted that the 'War on Terrorism' is really about our attempt to control oil reserves in the Caspian Sea. He spoke about how young people in this country were being manipulated and prepped for wars that this administration had in mind all along. Paris also spoke on the Illuminate, Bush's 86% approval rating in California, the love Black folks suddenly found for an abusive Mayor Giuliani and the police after September 11.
All these topics are addressed in his new song. "What Would You Do?" It's off his upcoming album 'Sonic Jihad'... and to put it bluntly - this new song is off the hook. It's one of the best Hip Hop songs I've heard in years. The intensity of the song and subject matter is a breath of fresh air at a time when so many insist on bringing us bling bling material.
Paris starts off the song with an excerpt from a speech given by George Bush. It is a speech that everyone should pay attention to because it ties into the type of media manipulation we are being subjected to. He then kicks it off with a retooled line that was borrowed from Public Enemy's classic anti-war song "Black Steel In The Hour of Chaos"."I see a message from the government, like every day
I watch it, and listen, and call 'em all suckas
They warnin' me about Osama or whatever
Picture me buyin' this scam I said never"
Paris explained that the concept behind his album is to point out the many ways in which the average US citizen has been duped. As was noted earlier, he felt like the government already had a number of plans and policies that they wanted to put in place and were using scare tactics with the help of a compliant media outlets to create a culture of fear. The end result was people willing to sign away all sorts of civil liberties in the name of national security.
Paris also spoke about his long absence from the Hip Hop scene. He noted that he had invested his money wisely over the past few years and had been doing a number of business ventures which have pretty much secured his future. Many do not know that Paris graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Economics. For the past few years Paris has spent time working with young cats and making sure they got they money right. He explained that in order for us to be self-sufficient and have true freedom we would have to move in a direction of economic independence which includes ownership.
He went on to explain that when he was dependent upon the success of his music to make ends meet he was put in a stressful situation because there were so many aspects that he had no control over. He couldn't control airplay. He couldn't control video play. He couldn't control whether or not a store would pick up his album and sell it. He didn't control distribution. He referred back to the drama that lead to the delay of "Bush Killa". He noted that nowadays he's beholden to no one and is in a position to say and do what he wants on vinyl. With his new album he is pulling no punches as evident by these verses in his new song."You in tune to a Hard Truth soldier spittin'
I stay committed gives a fuck to die or lose commission
It's all a part of fightin' devil state mind control
And all about the battle for your body mind and soul
And now I'm hopin' you don't close ya mind - so they shape ya
Don't forget they made us slaves, gave us AIDS and raped us
Another Bush season mean another war for profit
All in secret so the public never think to stop it
The Illuminati triple 6 all connected
Stolen votes they control the race and take elections
It's the Skull and Bones Freemason kill committee
See the Dragon gettin' shittier in every city"
Paris noted that over the past few years he had grown discontent with the direction Hip Hop was heading. He explained that he had never given up on music. He had simply moved away from Hip Hop for a while and had gone back to his first love which is funk. He's noted that he is constantly in the studio. He noted that his politics have never subsided. He was still the same brotha with a keen understanding and a willingness to speak out... These next verses illustrate that point as he calls out Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft."Now ask yourself who's the people with the most to gain (Bush)
'fore 911 motherfuckas couldn't stand his name (Bush)
Now even brothas waivin' flags like they lost they mind
Everybody got opinions but don't know the time
'Cause Amerikkka's been took - it's plain to see
The oldest trick in the book is MAKE an enemy
Of fake evil now the government can do it s dirt
And take away ya freedom lock and load, beat and search
Ain't nothin' changed but more colored people locked in prison
These pigs still beat us but it seem we forgettin'
But I remember 'fore September how these devils do it
Fuck Guliani ask Diallo how he doin'
We in the streets holla 'jail to the thief' follow
Fuck wavin' flags bring these dragons to they knees
Oil blood money makes these killers ride cold
Suspicious suicides people dyin' never told
It's all a part of playin' God so ya think we need 'em
While 'Bin Ashcroft' take away ya rights to freedom
Bear witness to the sickness of these dictators
Hope you understand the time brother cause it's major
Paris explained how he was taken back when he didn't hear too many artists forcefully speaking out on the war situation. He acknowledged there were some artists like Boots who had stepped up, but for the most part those with higher visbility had been absent from the conversation. Even fewer artists had actually put out songs that raised serious questions. He noted that most of the rap songs he had heard have been pro-war. Nas' track "Rule" which raises questions about our involvement is the one of the few that have been released by a highly visible mainstream artist.
Paris felt like he had a of information and was in a position to where he could afford to step forth and speak his mind and not have to worry about economic repercussions. He felt like a lot of people were buying into the constant media onslaught and even more have simply allowed themselves to go to sleep. He wanted to be one to help kick up dust and remind folks to keep their eyes on the prize. Since many of the media outlets are so tightly controlled he decided to put his message in a song and let it be heard. His song is intense as it harks back to the days when artists were stepping to mic and challenging the status quo in uncompromising terms. Paris rounds out his song by putting forth some ideas that force us to take note and raise questions. To me that's Hip Hop at its best..."So now you askin why my records always come the same
Keep it real, ain't no fillers, motherfuck a blingin'
Mine eyes seen the gory of the coming of the beast
So every story every word I'm sayin' 'Fuck Peace'
See you could witness the Illuminati bodycount
Don't be surprised these is devils that I'm talkin' bout
You think a couple thousand lives mean shit to killers?
I swear to God we the ones - ain't no villans
Or any other word they think to demonize a country
Ain't no terror threat unless approval ratings slumpin'
So I'ma say it for the record we the ones that planned it
Ain't no other country took a part or had they hand in
It's all a way to keep ya scary so you think you need'em
Praisin' Bush while that killer take away ya freedom
How many of us got discovered but ignore the symptoms?
Brothas talkin' loud but ain't nobody sayin' shit'
And with the 4th Amendment gone eyes are on the 1st
That's why I'm spittin' cyanide each and every verse
I see the Carlyle group and Harris Bank Accounts
I see 'em plead the 5th each and every session now
And while Reichstag burns I see the public buy it
I see the profilin see the media s compliance
War is good for business see the vicious make a savior
Hope you understand the time brother cause it s major
What would you do if you
knew all of the things we know
Would you stand up for truth
Or would you turn away too?
And then what if you saw
All of the things that's wrong
Would you stand tall and strong?
Or would you turn and walk away...
"What Would You Do?"
Lyrics and Music Written, Produced and Performed by Paris
2002 Guerrilla Funk Music (ASCAP)
If anyome wants to holla at Paris be sure to drop him an email at