The Blue Scholars - conducted by Sam Cameron  

The Blue Scholars

January 2007

MVRemix: So do you sell out?

Geologic: That's the thing. Some people think that's selling out. Like, oh you commodify your art, but no man, your art will be commodified if you chose to do it or not and how else will you be able to reach people when people are at the marketplace?

Sabzi: That kind of thinking is a paradox. It's like working in the system but by your own rules. I'm not going to take showers, I'm not going to drink bottled water, fuck all that shit, I'm going to make all my own clothes and live in a commune which is very much rooted in the system that they're trying to rebel against, like 'I'm going to look at that and then just do everything opposite of that to prove a point,' as opposed to truly thinking independently and building something with just the tools you have.

MVRemix: Is there really such a thing as independent thinking? What about with all of the sampling involved in today's music scene?

Sabzi: I think it's really hard and I think we're all trying to strive for it but we're products of our environment in a big way.

Geologic: It all starts with a question mark. When you begin to question even the little things, then like Sab was saying earlier, it sounds negative, but the key to being a real critical and an independent thinker is mistrust, not trusting everything you see and hear and what your leaders are feeding you, and yourself. You may feel right about something, but if you go through life not ever questioning whether you are right or not, then you aren't going anywhere.

MVRemix: On 'Southside Revival' you said hip-hop was malnourished and underfed. What does that mean?

Geologic: Literally I saw hip-hop. I was walking down 23rd and literally I saw hip hop walkin' across, weighing like 110 pounds like she lost a lot of weight, and I was like 'hey, eat some food!' Nah, figuratively, it's just hip-hop, it's a response to the phrase hip-hop is dead, hip-hop used to be alive and it used to be this.

Sabzi: Everyone's golden age is different.

Geologic: It's that whole notion that people seem to have their favorite hip hop that's connected to where they're at in their life during their teen years and then they abandon it. It's like this culture and this music that you took so much from as your soundtrack, you're just going to abandon it like that you're just going to just make that declaration that hip hop is dead. To me its like nah, it's not about that, but at the same time, I can't front. I can't help but acknowledge the fact that hip hop is actually getting progressively whacker at least in the main stream, so I think hip hop needs those people who are saying it's dead and it's whack, not to just stand there and say it's whack but to actually contribute to it, feed it and give it the energy it needs to not be whack.

MVRemix: In 'Southside Revival' you also said, “You got time to take a shit, you got time to read a book.” What's been your bathroom material lately?

Geologic: I'm rereading both A Past Revisited by Renato Constantino and Philippine Society and Revolution by Amado Guerrero, they are two of the biggest influences in my life.

Sabzi: I'm reading Asian American activist Grace Lee Boggs' autobiography and Teaching to Transgress by Bell Hooks.

Geologic: I'd recommend those two books to anybody.

MVRemix: The song 'The Inkwell' is an ode to Seattle. What don't heads know about Seattle hip-hop?

Sabzi: Maybe that it exists?

Geologic: Straight up, for real that's real talk. For real that is it. A lot of people that were introduced to the Blue Scholars were like 'yeah this is the first hip hop from Seattle since Sir Mix-a-Lot.' Anyone who has been in the town for a minute knows that there's been a hip-hop scene. Granted not too many have been making a lot of noise, but there has always been a vibrant hip-hop scene from the early '80s on. So one, they don't know that it exists and two, even if they find out it exists a lot of them seem to think this is some new shit like oh, Blue Scholars tight, oh there's a hip hop scene? Oh Ab Creole, Cancer Rising too. Oh, Vitamin D, and they think for whatever reason it's some new shit and they don't know to what extent Vitamin D put out albums in the early '90s.

MVRemix: Why don't they know about Seattle hip-hop music?

Sabzi: It's marketing. The fact is hip-hop bigger hip-hop tours don't come here as often as they do other cities. There isn't a big push to market that kind of music here because it only identifies with like 2 or 5 percent of the market. So we need to cultivate that market here. But I'm more interested in the Seattle community. Whether or not we blow up, the only thing is that in order to reach other ears here, we do need to blow up in other cities. Otherwise, people in your own town don't take you seriously.

Geologic: Yeah, it sucks. We were actually talking to people in other cities that were starting to get out into the national scene and they'd say the same shit they were like 'man, even when I was coming up in my city, no one was really trying to hear me until I was getting some shine nationally.' How backward is that? People in your own backyard won't support you unless you leave.

Sabzi: People need validation that you're the real deal. It's why I'd like to see Seattle become like Oakland which produces it's own artists and everyone supports them. It requires a huge community effort.

Geologic: We need full participation from everybody. We need radio to get their heads out their ass and play some local shit. I'm not here to say mainstream fuckin' sucks but it's all about giving people some options or making them feel like options are out there. So then, if you're hearing the same song every 40-60 minutes on the radio you're basically being told you have no other options than Mariah Carey and Ludacris, this is the music that if you want to fit into this particular demographic and all your friends listen to this, so you have to. Not only that but this only.

MVRemix: Is the mainstream ready for your message?

Geologic: The mainstream audience is, but the people who control the mainstream aren't, and they'll never be ready because our shit goes against their interest.

Sabzi: The audience is definitely ready, but initially it will take time. Look at what happened to Howard Dean. When I saw that (Dean screaming in a broadcast campaign event) I didn't think anything about it and I thought it was like cool he's excited and then what the media does is they're like let's talk about this for like two months.

Geologic: About how much of a madman he was.

Sabzi: And the people don't even have opinions yet and they're listening to this media and they're like 'oh, people think this, I don't trust him either.' Howard Dean was like the best dude out of everyone that was running. If you think about that you realize the message will initially have to ease in.

Geologic: For example, if you didn't pay attention to the lyrics and you just listened to the music it could sound like a club song. So what they're doing is capturing peoples' attention based on what they've already been conditioned to think is dope. Keep what it is that's getting their attention, the high energy of the crunk beats, but then discard the B.S. and inject it with what they feel is more relevant. I think that is ten times more effective than somebody posturing over something that isn't accessible.

Sabzi: Some people even say like the Dead Prez isn't accessible. If you hit them with something too hard too fast they get scared. It's too much.

Geologic: For real, man I want to get on the mic and say a bunch of shit that I'm really pissed off about and I feel like I'm entitled to, but if I'm going to be respectful of not just a specific audience but just people in general then I've got to mediate that. I have to be able to say what I want to say and say it in a manner that reaches as many people as possible. Sometimes you have to swallow a pride pill and be like, 'ok I gotta' not sugar coat it but maybe tone it down.'

Sabzi: Some people feel that they can't tone it down because if they do then they're selling them selves out or they're not representing, but I no longer feel the need to prove myself to other people. I know who I am and I know what we're about and what our goals are and what we're trying to do. There's plenty of other things right now that we can actually get done immediately that don't require getting on the microphone and saying shit that's just going to just people off and just having controversy for the sake of controversy. Let's save our credibility to rile them up when real shit's about to happen, like November 5.

MVRemix: Where are you guys headed?

Geologic: An album. Mid-spring to early summer we're going to drop a new project. We're in the studio doing it now.

Sabzi: With Mass Line we put out Gabriel Teodros and the Common Market album.

Geologic: We want people to be able to pick up our CDs without having to play scavenger, and I want to say. People are saying why haven't Blue Scholars got distribution yet? I just want to say we've actually signed deals that people don't know about that have completely fucked us. We have CDs in the warehouse that we'll probably never get money for, ever. We want to be in full control of our careers. We don't want to, just for the sake of getting the CD out there as fast as possible to as many people, sacrifice some integrity or control. Be patient with us we're trying to make something more long lasting.

Sabzi: Even if we're the group that sells 5,000 records and some kids over there from El Centro care, that's success. It's better than just blowing your load really fast.

Geologic: We want our careers to be Tantric.

MVRemix: Werd.

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"Whether or not we blow up, the only thing is that in order to reach other ears here, we do need to blow up in other cities. Otherwise, people in your own town don't take you seriously."