Peace Hedrush Fam,
This is an interview of Tahir by Clyde Smith of www.ProHipHop.com, a hip hop business site (yes -BUSINESS!!). We are doing something different with this interview and thats posting it as it originally was taken rather than the edited
version we all are used to reading. When its posted to ProHipHop.com, you can compare the two and see whats really hood!!
One Gun, Tahir aka Brian Nichols (without the white chick)
Clyde: Where did the phrase "Hood Economics" originate for you and what do you mean
when you say it?
Tahir: The phrase "Hood Economics" as a term; I originally heard it from my friend
and co-owner of Hedrush Records Abu. We always talked about how all money
generators of the African community are loosely linked to each other and, if we
strengthen those ties with community building commerce as well as the other
African commerce, Africans would be in a better position living in America. Now
"Hood Economics" as a concept; I have seen this concept in use in my
neighborhood my entire life. for instance; a barber in my community cuts someone's hair
and with that money buys a fish dinner from the church fish fry in my
community who gives a percentage to the pastor who later on that day may go to get his
car detailed at the detail shop/ car wash in my community and the detailer
gets off from work and goes to buy a 20 bag of weed from the weed man in my
community who after he runs out of weed will go home that night, wake up the next
morning, get dressed, and go get a haircut,..in my community. The main
objective is to add grocery stores, clothing stores, housing development, and health
care into the equation. That would be "Hood Economics" working at optimum
What I mean when I say it is exactly as I described it. Hood Economics - the
state of African community commerce. I call it "the 3rd stage of the cure".
My people are diseased Clyde. And Its deeper than AIDS, drug addiction and
all those superficial things. Our minds are in disease where we have no solid
foundation to stand on so all traps and tricks of this society and the world
work very well on us. Our communities are known as prime testing ground and
primative capital gaining areas for all people to start up from. Europeans,
Asians, Arabs, everybody starts off with an option to have something in our
neighborhood first to use as a springboard into American entrepreneurial money.
Yet, when we (Africans) try this for ourselves, we are hesitant to support ea
chother because we feel the product may be inferior or just dont want to see
anyone in our neighbohood prosper and be self-determining (crabs in the bucket
theory). This is a disease that has plagued us ever since intergration. So
the 1st stage of the cure is "homecoming" (which was the title of my first
album). Meaning Africans coming back to home base. Being aware of our
surroundings and recognizing our current and rightful place in this world. Getting to
know ourselves again. Then the 2nd stage is self-defense ("Recoil" was my
second album). Once we are back to a self-determining and self-respectful way of
thinking, we must physically and mentally be prepared to protect and preserve
the treasures that are to come which ultimately WILL be freedom. Once we have
our mind and body under control (African control and protection), we are now
ready to build in the world. the first place to start is our own
neighborhoods. Thus spawns the 3rd stage of the cure, "HOOD ECONOMICS". Once we have our
economic situation out of the red and under African control, we can move on
to the next part. This plan is age old Clyde. The Nation of Islam, The Black
Panther Party, and a few other organizations have implimented this as well.
And there have been problems that we have identified too. I'm just saying it
again. Of course I cant give the whole plan out because the enemy is a student
and tactition, but the enemy knows this much.
Clyde: You mention 4 ways that people get money in the hood. How many of those
options have you taken?
Tahir: The 4 ways Africans generate money in the hood are: 1. a 9 to 5 working for
some one else. from bag boys at the supermarket to managers and even
coorperate America positions working for 3M, Honeywell and firms of that nature.
DEFINATELY OPPRESSIVE 2. a life of crime - illegal business (according to this
unfair American government, but thats another story) from the drug and
prostitution trade to check and credit card scams. some of it is DEFINATELY OPPRESSIVE
and some of it is PIMPING THE SYSTEM 3. the welfare line - government
giving Africans money, food checks, and housing. DEFINATELY OPPRESSIVE
(considering all Africans must do to qualify for it but thats another story as well)
4. our own grind - being self-determining in so-called legal ventures. such
as barbers, seamstresses, farmers (of so-called legal food we can eat), cooks,
musicians who own and release their music from their own labels, etc.
depending on the direction the money goes once its made is what determines if its
oppressive or not.
Personally, I have been involved in all 4 approaches before, but now am only
involved in one - my own grind.
Clyde: Are there any business people who have influenced or inspired you, whether in
music or elsewhere?
Tahir: Yes, there are many, but i will name 3. First of all, MY PARENTS. They used
to own a grocery store located in an African community. I was too young to
appreciate what they were doing but now I know where my sense of Hood Economics
came from. They would buy all they could from African farmers, gardeners,
fishermen, etc. in the neighborhood the store was in as well as spread the word
about the businesses they patronized to others and even helped aspiring
African manufacturers to get connected so the circle could grow. They also
explained the importance of what they were doing to the producers and the customers so
it wouldnt just be "American business" but true "Hood Economics". They
stopped selling alcohol and cigarettes too - something that kills the African
community with style. They recognized that as the enemy and deaded it. THAT IS
STILL UNHEARD OF!! I love them for that. And the products were fresh and
prices comparable to the major chains like Winn-Dixie and Publix, who dont give a
flying 747 fuck about the hood (thanks Nas). And, one of the best things they
did, held tutoring sessions in the back of the store!! From school work to
being a man or woman to taking care of your family to financial planning.
Schooling people (me included) on life period. That is the meaning of Hood
Economics manifested into tangible evidence. They have been robbed, vandalized,
harrassed by other stores for the messages they were putting out and still banged
on the system with big heat! Shouts to Robinson's grocery and all those who
remember that era before the Arab invasion.
2. - Jam Pony Express DJs (Rest in Uhuru Big Ace (Uhuru means freedom)).
JPE is a DJ crew from Ft. Lauderdale FLorida that has been making mix tapes
since 1981 and selling them independantly all over Florida and Georgia since then.
Thats 24 years making money in the hood off music and at the same time
pioneering a now must-have skill for djs in Florida (thats if you really wanna be
dope) called mic checking. They made millions and didnt have to sell out to do
it. No major deals no internet sales no distribution deals that werent hood
related. 100% African all the way. One time for Cool Lock Jock, Slick Vic,
Big Ace, Rated R, Giggalo Joe, Lil Fuss, Hot Rod, and the rest of the legendary
Jam Pony Express DJs (its so many of them I cant possibly name them all).
They showed me an example of doing what you do in music and being monetarily
prosperous without having to take one step out of the African community.
3. Roc-A-Fella Records. Jay-Z, Dame Dash, and Biggs are the perfect example
of NEVER compromising the mission and forever enterprising in this American
Entertainment Industry. They made the industry go from dissing them to
accepting whatever they say. They used the system against itself for their own
company's welfare because we all know the enemy didnt want THAT much power in their
hands. from music to fashion to everything they're involved with they did it
their way from the BEGINNING. I stress beginning because a few Africans have
similar success but the beginnings are the most important part. CEOs from
the door!! The way they began set an example for Africans aspiring to do it
WITHOUT COMPROMISE. I am definately one of those aspiring Africans. Shouts out
to Dame, Jay-Z, and Biggs for being Kings all the way through.
Clyde: Did you see the tv show The Wire?
It talks a lot about the concept of the game,
generally meaning the drug game but I see the show as
revealing multiple games played by dealers, cops,
business people and so forth. Does that term have particular meaning or meanings for you, even if you
haven't seen The Wire?
Tahir: Yes I've seen The Wire. One of the best American justice system propaganda
shows on tv in a while. I was definately hooked on what was coming next. The
game they refer to is the drug game and you are right. There are many other
games being played too. The only games that interested me on that show were
the games the African drug dealers played with each other, the games the police
and the Africans played with each other, and the games the so-called legal
business people played with the African drug dealers. But they are all games and
they have beginnings and ends. Winners and Losers. The game is called
capitalism and it's too many levels involved for Africans to not have a complete set
of rules and expect to win. The truth is we will never have a compete set of
rules because we're not at the table when they are made or amended. So yes,
we can get to level 3 or 4, but to get to level 10 and the secret boards
beyond, thats a birth right we dont have and can never achieve in this particular
game no matter what we do or how hard we try. The Wire did an exellent job of
showing us that.
Part 2 of 2
Clyde: Why do you use the terms African as opposed to
African-American or black?
Tahir: I use the term African because that is what describes my people the best. We
are from Africa. May be born in America, or Canada, or London, Jamaica,
Peurto Rico, or where ever else. But we are Africans by identity, nature, and
everything else. The Seminoles, Cherokee, and the rest of the natives of this
land are "Americans". That best describes them. You are European and so on.
That just keeps everything simple so we all understand who's who.
Clyde: Does focusing your economic activity on African
business or "creating a hood economy" mean actively
boycotting businesses that don't fit the parameters of
Tahir: Let me say first, the "hood economy" is already in existance. It just doesnt
work in the favor of Africans who populate the hood. I don't think Africans
need to focus on boycotting, we need to focus on patronizing African businesses
in the hood and letting them know, as well as non-African businesses in the
hood, that there is a responsibility that goes along with being able to make
money in the hood. And that's building the hood's economy in a way that
benefits the hood as well as the business. If a business does not have the hood's
best interest in mind and is there to just suck the resources out of it and and
use them for other things (like the diamond industry in Africa), then yes,
boycott and get them OUT of the hood immediately!!
Question # 3.2
Clyde: Do you see the crabs in a bucket phenomenon also
relevant within hip hop? For example, a dj in
Greensboro, NC that I interviewed described the local
hip hop scene that way and events soon after strongly
illustrated his point.
Tahir: Yes, both major and indy-wise. "Gate keepers" of information, opportunity,
and resources an artist or company may need to accomplish something.
Question # 4.2
Clyde:Who is the "enemy" exactly?
Tahir: The enemy is any person, place, or thing against freedom. simple as that.
Clyde: What do you mean by "mic checking"?
Tahir: Mic checking is a technique used by lots of Florida djs made popular by the
legendary Jam Pony Express Djs straight outta Ft. Liquor-dale Florida (all JPE
heads will recognize). Using the fader on the mixer, the dj blanks out the
words of a song and replaces them with his/her own words. It takes alot of
rhythm, memorizing songs, and wit to pull it off. Besides JPE, the best I've
heard are DJ Mike Fresh (Hedrush Records) and M.B. (Low-Key Key Figures Ent.) both
out of Tallahassee Florida. Who, by the way, are both well accomplished on
the mix cd scene in North Florida and are currently working on one together.
It's sure to be "Dat Gator"! Shouts out to them for keeping the art alive and
Question # 6.2
Clyde: Please tell me more about your views on the mixtape
industry or however you'd like to refer to it. How
much of that is using original material with
permission and how much leverages copyrighted material
used without permission but with this weird blind eye
that the music industry general turns towards such
Tahir: I see the mix cd industry as a good thing for all involved. The dj gets to
promote themselves and make money. The record company with a song on there
gets free promotions. And the customer gets to hear the newest hip hop on the
market and can make a choice whether to buy the album from a particular artist
or not. I love it!!
Question # 7.2
Clyde: When you describe The Wire as "American justice system
propaganda" what do you mean exactly?
Tahir: I mean exactly what I said. American justice system propaganda. The Wire is
a television show approved by the FCC. If it really told the truth of the
"drug game" and who ALL the players, winners, and losers are and went play by
play, this television show would have placed a negative outlook on the American
justice system. Which means it would have not been approved by the FCC and,
in turn, would have never made it from script to film.
Question # 8.2
Clyde: When you talk about the game of capitalism, you
discuss the difficulties of reaching "level 10 and the
secret boards beyond", is that a videogame reference
or is that referring to something else?
Tahir: That's a video game reference.
Question # 9.2
Clyde: You mention the "weed man". Do you see his function
as different from dealers who sell heroin or cocaine?
What about alcohol in the hood?
If you can tie that in to D-Boy, that would be great.
Tahir: Weed is not as potent or addictive as other drugs such as heroin or cocaine.
However, it is illegal in the USA so the same "drug game" rules apply to
being associated with it; dealer or user. D-Boy is a remake of the classic NWA
song "Dope Man" from the album "Straight Outta Compton". It describes the life
of a crack dealer in 1986-87 Compton, CA. "D-Boy" is a term presently used in
Florida for drug dealers dealing with cocaine or heroine based products. The
song D-Boy is the same as Dope Man except for a few changes that make it
Florida related and the last verse is my take on how a D-boy's life could wind up.
As far as alcohol, it is a legal drug making the government the "obvious"
D-Boy in this case and their business is very successful, especially in the
African community. Drugs, no matter what the type or potency, alter a persons
mindstate. In my opinion, Africans in America and around the world dont need
anymore mind tricks played on us, and definately not self-induced!! Yes, in some
cases, dealing these drugs are some peoples' only way for survival at times,
but that doesnt make it positive for the African community as a whole. So to
answer your question, yes, the weed man and the coke man are in the same boat
fleet; they just have different size anchors.