|The Unspoken Heard is a collective of artists, musicians, businessmen, and much more. Asheru and Blue Black have been creating intelligent and soulful hip-hop music since the mid 90’s. Emcees Asheru and Blue Black (Maryland-born Gabriel Benn and Bronx-born Robert Jackson), met in The University Of Virginia. They teamed up with Wes Jackson who formed Seven Heads Entertainment, home to El Da Sensai, Ritchy Pitch and more.|
Asheru & Blue Black Of The Unspoken Heard were the first act on Seven Heads. With the poetry and consciousness of A Tribe Called Quest, the fun of De La Soul, the Black love or Brand Nubian, the energy of Mos Def, and the coolness of The Lone Catalysts, Asheru & Blue Black have been labeled as the leaders of the next generation of intelligent conscious hip-hop.
While the term “conscious hip-hop” may pigeonhole them, the music of Asheru & Blue Black rises above any labels or sub-genres of hip-hop. Their debut album “Soon Come” was an astute and soulful album fueled with production of Geology, Sound Providers, 88 Keys, J. Rawls (of The Lone Catalysts), Ritchy Pitch, Yusef Dinero and Djinji Brown. While much of it was not heard on major radio stations, listeners felt the energy and the spirit of it. Fans and newcomers became apart of something.
Finally, there was hope for the future of hip-hop. Asheru and Blue Black found a balance. They weren’t backpackers or just some pro-Black conscious group. They were teachers of the culture. In fact, Asheru teaches special education to learning disabled and emotionally disturbed children as another job. The Unspoken Heard, along with J-Live, El Da Sensai, and others helped make Seven Heads one of the most respected independent hip-hop labels today. Like the early days of Rawkus, the music is just very, very good. Asheru & Blue Black are two emcees who are trying to maintain the pride in hip-hop culture. They are strong, Black, intelligent men who are more than just role models. They can flex their skills on the microphone.
All through the recording and the release of their debut album “Soon Come”, Asheru and Blue Black have collected 4 years of music. This collection includes singles, dub versions, b-sides, out-takes, and more. Since much of this music was only on vinyl, many fans were missing out. Finally, Asheru & Blue Black released “48 Months”, a collection of songs recorded between 1996 and 2000. “48 Months” includes the classic J-Live and Grap Luva collaborations “How You Livin?” and “Trackrunners”.
The LP also includes a new Asheru song, “Black Moses”, from his upcoming solo LP “While You Were Sleeping”. The compilation LP, “48 Months” includes production by Asheru & Blue Black, Obsession, The Bedroom Wizard, DJ Spinna, DJ Bolex, Grap Luva, Djinji Brown, 88 Keys, Iilscout, and Aychell. It is a must-have CD for fans of Asheru & Blue Black. On a cold evening for the new year of 2004, I had a long in-depth conversation with Asheru of The Unspoken Heard. We talked about “48 Months”, Seven Heads, Blue Black, politics, his upcoming solo album, racism, love, and more. Asheru is a poet like Q-Tip, a teacher like Krs-One, a musician like Mos Def, an activist like Talib Kweli and an emcee’s emcee like J-Live. Ladies and gentlemen, The Unspoken Heard finally speaks.
MVRemix: What goes on?
Asheru: Chilling, man. I’m getting ready for this European tour with J-Live.
MVRemix: The new album is called ’48 Months’. Tell us about it?
Asheru: The album ’48 Months’ is a bunch of material that captures the four years from just starting out, all the way to ‘Soon Come’. We dropped ‘Jamboree’ as a single. There are a couple of out-takes on there too. There’s also a new song on there from my new solo album. That song is called ‘Black Moses’. The ’48 Months’ deals with the process. When you open up the CD and see the linear notes, you can read how it spans that period. It is really for the cats who supported us through the years. Previously, all of the songs were only on vinyl. We got a lot of requests for it to be available on CD format. So, we put it out. It’s also for the cats who never heard of us or just heard 1 or 2 things from us. It represents a good span of time.
MVRemix: How and when did you hook up with Blue Black and form The Unspoken Heard?
Asheru: We met at school, University Of Virginia. We both went there. We met through a mutual friend. I was making demos and he was doing solo stuff during his time. Dinji Brown was there too. We linked and it took off from there. Wes Jackson started the label, we just kind of came together as the official first act on the label.
MVRemix: So, school was how you hooked up with Seven Heads?
Asheru: School. Wes and me started the same year. We were friends all through college. We were real close after graduation.
MVRemix: Is J-Live still part of Seven Heads Entertainment?
Asheru: J-Live was on 7 Heads Management. I don’t think so anymore. He’s doing his own stuff now. We still collaborate. I’m down with his tour coming up soon. It’s all good and he’s still family.
MVRemix: How did you and J-Live hook up those amazing collaborations?
Asheru: J-Live is my man! Talking on the phone! We used to do a lot of traveling in New York and we would get up and do some joints.
Asheru 2001 Interview by Hugo Lunny
Asheru 2004 Interview by Todd E. Jones
Asheru 2005 Interview by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman