Trevor Jackson
Derek Bahn

20 Questions With Trevor Jackson

Getting personal with the creative who refuses to be boxed in by Hollywood.

At 22 years old, Trevor Jackson may be young, but he’s had his fair share of experience in Hollywood. For those who make up Generation Z, their earliest memory of Jackson may be from the Disney Channel television film, Let It Shine, where he played Kris McDuffy, the best friend to Tyler James Williams’ Cyrus DeBarge. Although in that movie, Jackson’s character lacked a creative streak, that’s a far cry from the Jackson that exists today, or has ever existed. While he’s still very much the heartthrob he was at 16 (he once had a girl faint at the sight of him during a meet-and-greet), Jackson is talented like no other. Today, he stars in the ABC show, Grown-ish, as Aaron Jackson, a self-proclaimed “woke” activist who doubled as Yara Shahidi’s love interest in the first season. When he’s not protesting for the rights of students of color in the series, he’s offscreen creating his own musical content.

That is where the difference between Trevor Jackson the actor and Trevor Jackson the musician comes alive and he makes the distinction between the two adamantly clear.

“The biggest difference between the two things is when I do music it’s always from my exact experience,” he says. “It’s always from my exact experience, it’s very close to who I am because I’m writing all of it. Musically, it’s just everything that I’ve been inspired by I try to recreate. When you’re acting on screen, you’re trying to be somebody else or say someone else’s words. That’s the only difference. Music is definitely more connected to my heart.”

The Indiana native’s connection to music is deeper than most would expect. Jackson likes to be a part of every step in the music making process, going as far as even directing his own music videos because he wouldn’t be satisfied otherwise. This isn’t to say that the Rough Drafts Part I artist is uptight. As a matter of fact, he's the complete opposite. He’s a self-described adrenaline junkie who regularly surfs — he spends most of his money on surfboards — who also just happens to be a perfectionist when it comes to his art and he’s not afraid of showing it.

“I surf heavily to get any stress out. Just to find my center. It’s the push and pull, it’s the struggle and the reward. I think that’s what makes me love it, it mirrors my life.”

If Jackson has anything to do with it, his life will continue to be full of rewards. When VIBE had the chance to sit down with the actor-musician, he shared his aspirations of winning multiple Grammys (he hopes to eventually have 12), and his desire to act in a major film franchise. The towering 6’2” actor with his “dragon-tail” hairstyle was more than at ease in our office, so much so that he told us which character he’s played before that he’d switch lives with for a week (hint: the role isn’t as innocent as his Grown-ish character). Read below to get the full scope of who Trevor Jackson is, in all his creative aspects.

VIBE: Do you ever feel like you could do acting over music, or vice-versa?
Trevor Jackson: No. I feel like people try to make it feel like that and I say to those people, "FU. I can do whatever I feel inspired to do." Any genre of life, not just music or entertainment, like if you're a doctor and you only did brain surgery now you want to move onto something else. I think there should be nothing holding you back anything that you feel led to do. I feel like it was put in me for a reason, that want or hunger to do it. And for me, I feel like it all goes hand in hand especially in the entertainment industry. Music, directing, acting, writing, whether it be scripts, whether it be poetry. I feel like it all goes hand in hand. And again, I get to turn life struggles, or trials and tribulations into something beautiful.

Would you say you feel more like yourself when you make music?
Absolutely. And it's also who you want to be when you make music, it's who you were when you make music. It's kind of the recognition, the realization of self I feel like when I make music. The past, present, or future, or pain or happiness, but it's just very close to my life.

Is it hard for you, whenever you’re creating art, to channel the negative aspects of what you’re going through in life?
That's easier I think. Those are easier to channel than anything. ‘Cause I think that's the most relatable. I don't know anyone whose life is perfect. No one person's struggle is greater than another person's struggle, but struggle all in the same is universal. When I do that it's kind of easier instead of crying about a heartbreak. I'll write a song about it and then I'm able to cry at the beauty of it instead of hurting. Like wow, this sh*t turned into something really tight. I always think the painful things are easy to write, those are the quickest songs. Those are the quickest like, "Okay it felt like this, then what she say? She said this, and then she yelled at me and then I was like damn." You know? I think the songs of who you want to be are always harder because you've never experienced that before, or you're searching for that. It's not familiar. I think things that you've experienced and things you are experiencing are easier to write.

A lot of your fans can remember growing up and watching you on Disney Channel’s Let It Shine and now they’re watching you as Aaron on Grown-ish, so you’ve been in the industry for a minute now. How have you dealt with fame? Do you ever feel like it’s gotten to your head?
No. I feel like I'm surrounded by really good people. My family being those number one people in my life supporting me. Never letting me forget, or lose sight of who I am. I think my faith in God is the weight that keeps me down to earth and understanding why I'm here. I think once the vision or the perception of why you're doing something changes, that's when you should be worried. When you think it's for you or because of you or for you is when things get a little hazy. But for me that I've always realized it's bigger than me. My life is bigger than my own. And so I push through a lot of the times I feel like giving up or when I feel like damn I don't feel inspired today. Or ah, I don't want to do it. Or I just think about all the people that depend on me. I think about the younger me that depends on me. The people that I've never met before that my music could help get through anything. Somebody hearing this, could be like "oh damn I thought about doing this tomorrow but instead I'm going to try and push through."

 

View this post on Instagram

 

aaron is tired of the disrespect. 😂 _ _ _ #grownish is back june 5th at 8/7c on @freeform.

A post shared by grown-ish (@grownish) on

Very true. So, let’s talk about your “rat-tail.”
It’s a dragon tail now, I’ve changed it.

So your dragon tail is almost as famous as you at this point. At first it appeared in Grown-ish, but was it your idea?
Yeah. Kenya [Barris] actually wanted me to cut it before the show and that's why they make fun of it because I think that's his way of "oh, he didn't want to cut it, now let's make fun of it." I started growing it for Rough Drafts Part 1. I watch movies religiously like all the time and the same movies, millions of times just to figure out why, they're so dope to me. So I went back and was watching Star Wars 1, 2 and 3 and I just really connected to Anakin Skywalker. He's talented, he's really skilled but he doesn't know why, he didn't know his purpose or his own strength and I felt like people know that I'm dope but they weren't giving me the opportunity. I felt like that's what he was going through. He was like "I want to go on missions, I want to help, I want to do good." I was just in between, I was feeling indifferent about things and yeah he had a rat tail, or a dragon tail, so I started growing it. I was talking to my brother about this the other day, it's like I started off when I was younger, knowing what I wanted to be. I wanted to be famous.

That was when I was kid, 2 or 3, I wanted to be in movies. And then when I was 15, 16 I realized why, and it's because I want to lead people to the peace that I've found and knowing God and my journey, I just wanted to make the blueprint easier. Lead people to a different way of thinking and then, now it's the how. How I do that successfully, how do I get enough press but also how do I create something dope? How do I manage this part of my life? I think life is broken up into parts like that. That part of my life, the Anakin, was like "why am I?" and then that's when I started making my writing. Rough Drafts Part 1, I wrote almost every record on there. I started playing guitar, picked up guitar. It kind of just represented the beginning of me being okay with me. Not trying to fix myself for anybody else and just be myself. So that's what the rat tail represents. So, when people say to cut it... [Laughs] Even in Superfly they tried to cut it, I was like, "No."

Do you ever think you'll cut it?
It depends. It would have to be a Marvel movie and three installments and a very good check.

You said that God is a very big reason of why you're here today, so how do you maintain faith and knowing that you're doing the right thing? How did you know your come up was going to happen, and how did you stay motivated?
I think again my mentality of it wasn't the same. If you do it for fame, if you do it for money, if you do it for things that aren't important, it's easy to just be like "alright I'm tired, whatever." But when you feel like what you're doing is going to change the world, you sacrifice your discomfort sometimes. So I feel like for me, when I was unhappy with things going on in my life, I'm just like "but what I'm meant to do is bigger than my unhappiness right now." And that kind of just pushed me. I was like "I feel like there are millions of people that are waiting on me that I haven't met, that I need to touch in some way. Or do something positive." That's what I always say, too. Whenever you carry a positive message or try to do good in the world, it's always going to be harder. When you think about Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Muhammed Ali, all these people that did huge, amazing things, had the hardest time getting there. Beaten down. It's kind of what it takes, though, to be a legend.

Getting back to music, you recently collaborated on Jacob Latimore’s song “True Sh*t,” and you directed the visual for it. How did you get into directing music videos?
I got into it from doing my own music videos. I started doing it when I was unhappy with the way other videos turned out that I didn't do. I was like, "let me just try it." And I feel like I've done enough film and TV and I watch enough movies to know what I want and the idea of where I'm going to head and so I just started doing it. The minute that happened I fell in love with it. I just try to study people that I love. Steven Spielberg is one of my favorite directors, I love his movies. Christopher Nolan is another big one. So yeah, I would just kind of do that. And then, I actually recorded that record a long time ago, “True Sh*t.” And then I had ended up not using it, so he was like "bro, I'm taking it." And I was like "alright cool." He was like, "I want you to do the verse on it." So I was like "alright for sure." And then he was like, "dude do you want to direct it?" and I was like "yeah." So I was just thinking about the song.

To me the song was about a woman putting herself in a position that she has the capability to get out of, but she complains about where she's at. I feel like a lot of us do that. We have the tools to get out of our own hole but we complain about being in the hole. I feel like a lot of women will be like "oh he's this, he's that," but you're still with him, you're still seeing the guy. You're doing it to yourself. Look what you made me do, you made me hurt you, but really it's you. I wanted to mimic that in the video. By them trying to hurt us, they end up hurting themselves in a sense. So that's where I was going with the whole poison and all that.

You have Rough Drafts Part II coming out soon, and Rough Drafts Part I was released last year. What’s the difference content-wise between the two?
This is a little more party, I would say. Rough Drafts I...I don't know, I think that was party, too. It's hard to explain. 'Cause I really write music when I make it, it's very impulsive. It's never like, "okay let me sit down and make an album that's going to be solely about this and solely about that." It's just like "yo, I gotta make a song." I feel like I'm always growing. I think “Spam in a Can” was a huge difference from Rough Drafts I in terms of how open I was with my audience and fans. I'm going to strive to do that more. Even “Crocs [In My Crocs],” it's just very close. I feel like Rough Drafts I I made a lot of good songs, but not all of them were as close to me as this one. Maybe not, maybe I'm just in a different place. But I don't know, you gotta hear it.

What is the meaning behind the name for “SPAM in a Can?”
I used to eat Spam all the time when I was younger. So it represents the beginning to now and what people thought it was, but it's really as raw and grimy as spam in a can, my life. It's just being real. People see one thing and then behind the scenes it's a very different thing. There's a lot of people that know me and a lot of people that don't, that assume my life is one way. Like "oh my god, you got it like this." Of course I'm having a good time, but like I was saying before, no struggle is greater than another, regardless of the field. Just like anyone doing anything, I know it hurts, I know there's times you want to give up but you gotta keep pushing. That's why the video is literally representative of my life, it’s stairs. Sometimes you fall down the stairs but regardless of how heavy the weight gets, and how far it seems. Regardless how hard your leg burns from working out, you gotta keep pushing. That's always been my message. I always tell people, the only way to lose the game is to stop playing the game. That's why when I was little, I feel like even now, I'm really good at video games because I will play until I'm good. I don't like to lose.

That's actually very interesting what you said about the stairs because when you first watch the music video, or any music video, you don't really get the meaning that the director or the artist puts into the video. One viewer might think  “oh he's just on stairs.” Now you're saying, "no, it means that I keep going."
Yeah, and that's why you know ‘cause it could have just been me, just walking up the stairs. But I would sit down and breathe and feel like I'm losing my balance or falling back down a few steps but I keep going. I'm at this step longer than I was at other steps, sometimes that's how it goes. Sometimes, you'll be at the same steps for a while, and then you can skip two steps. It's all relative.

In that song you also talk about your struggles being who you are. Do you feel like there's a struggle in knowing who's real?
Absolutely. Trustworthy people...that's very difficult. I mean I'm thankful that I've never had crazy switch ups from anybody but I think that's because I'm conscious. People are still crazy and it's still difficult, especially with women. I like to know what their intention is. It could change, or it has changed. That's why I often times I find myself going backwards, ‘cause I'm like "at least they knew me before." Which isn't good, because you left that for a reason. You go back and then it becomes a cycle, that's the album that's coming out after this is a lot about the cycle. It's hard to know who is trustworthy but it's just so funny because as long as I've been doing this, it's like the people who call me "oh that's my brother" are the same people who wouldn't let me in the club. And I get that all the time, "oh he said you're like his brother, you guys are best friends." Met the guy one time. It's kind of hard for sure. But the switch up is great. It's almost like yes but then it's like "dang you really are that fake." But it feels good to know like "wow you switched up your whole thing."

Let's say you meet someone. How can you tell if they're going to be real or if they're going to end up switching up on you?
I don't think you can tell for sure, but like I said I think I'm grateful for my intuition. I've always been big on vibes. Someone could do one thing and I'll dissociate myself or keep them at arms length.

Also, in “SPAM in a Can” you talked about drugs. Would you like to further elaborate on that?
I won't say what drugs, but I'll say you just kind of do things. I don't know if it's searching for something or it's like a self entitlement thing. But it's growing up, it's trying new things, it's trying to figure it out. You try to fill voids with different things. And you realize the only things that can fill voids are yourself and things that you get. But I feel like I can't understand people until I've been through certain things. That's what I try to do. I really try to live my life to the fullest so I can understand people and even myself in a way. But surfing has helped a lot. Drinking, whatever, just finding that balance. I think life as a universal law is balanced. I think a lot of kids today could use that due to… we have a lot of people overdosing, we have a lot of people dying. A lot of people that we love, so it was kind of just a wake up call. Love. Love is another drug. That's why even in the song I'm saying, “I've been falling into so much of it that I feel numb to it.” It's like I don't get enough of it, I can't get enough of it from one person.

In your music, you rap and sing. Is there one you favor over the other?
I'd say I sing more than anything but sometimes when you sing good people aren't hearing what you're saying as much. So I feel like some songs, especially songs that are important to me I try and talk so that people are really listening to the words. But if I'm singing, they'll be like "oh his voice is really good" but they're not hearing what I'm saying. I just want to get the message straight to the point.

Who are people that you admire as an artist?
Prince is a huge one. Prince is a huge artist. Michael Jackson. I like Drake a lot. I like Donny Hathaway. I like a lot of country music. Rascal Flatts are my favorite, they're dope.

You co-produced and you co-wrote your LP. Do you feel like it's really important for you to be completely involved?
Yes. I think because of what I was saying in terms being so close to me, it's my picture, it's my painting. Whether I'm painting it or not, I’ve got to oversee it and be like, I like this color, I approve that color. Ian Jackson who's my brother, who also produced a few records on the album and helps me creatively and come up with all the concepts and things, he's the same way. He's like "this is the idea" but if it's not fitting here, you know, no one knows me better than him. I'm happy that he's involved as he is. I think it's very important, to tell your story you have to tell it. You can't let other people tell it. They might get a word wrong. Whatever it may be. I think it's super duper important.

Would you say you're a perfectionist when it comes to what you do?
Yes, absolutely. I'd say that for sure. Not to any other aspect of my life, just music and acting. When it comes to my life though, my room, not really, not the neatest person.

If you could give advice to anyone wanting to be in this industry, acting or music wise, what would you say?
Do it for the art. That is the only thing that will get you through the objectives or the let downs. It elongates the process, through the ups and downs, you'll have patience if you're really doing it for the art. But if you're doing it for things that are kind of deteriorating, you'll lose motivation. So I'd say do it for the love of the art. Be a nice person. There's a lot of successful dickheads in the world, those aren't people you want to be. It sounds nice, like "oh they're d**ks but at least they have money." No, it's not fine. You want to be loved, you want to give love and you want to be loved. I rather that than be rich.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Mark Barboy

Interview: Suave House Founder Tony Draper Links With Celebs Like 2 Chainz, G Herbo and Nick Cannon To Feed Their Cities

The harrowing COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately disrupted Black communities across the United States with cities like Chicago being among the hardest hit. Throughout the year, artists from the city have stepped up and held socially distanced food drives and PPE donations across the city’s South and West sides. With his deep ties to Chicago since the early 90s, Suave House Records founder/entrepreneur Tony Draper, alongside NBA veteran Ricky Davis, made the Chi’ their next stop as part of the nationwide Feed Your City Challenge this past October 17th at the Pullman Park Community Center.

The chilly, yet bright and sunny Saturday saw hundreds of people drive through the parking lot of the complex, receiving groceries from the many volunteers, gathered from across the city. Masked up with PPE in the trenches with the civilians were local natives and celebrity supporters like Chitown’s Grammy winning producer/music executive No ID, rap star G-Herbo, new rapper Queen Key, NBA star Jabari Parker to media/music entertainer Nick Cannon. Draper and Davis were handing off items and loading boxes of farm-fresh produce and meats in the trunk of cars, and offloading the 95,000 pounds of food to feed 7,000 residents. While they were not in attendance, Common with Jhene Aiko and Social Justice Collective donated funds for the free groceries.

“You can’t lead the people until you feed the people. We’re out here in the community in a real way. People always talk about what’s going on in Chicago and these are the things going on in Chicago. Positive things for the community during a time like this. People coming together and it’s a wonderful event,” said Cannon.

For Draper, bringing the Feed Your City Challenge to Chicago and being able to pull it off successfully was crucial because October 17th, marks the 24th anniversary of the death of one of Chi’s most influential DJs, Rapmaster Pinkhouse, who passed away in 1996. “It feels like myself and my partner [Ricky] Davis coming to Chicago and partnering with Common, No ID, Jhene Aiko, Nick Cannon, G-Herbo, Jay Allen, [local FM radio] Power 92 and Pat Edwards was a sign from God that it’s meant to happen on this day. Even though Pinkhouse is gone, he’s still influencing the south side of Chicago and he’s still sending us blessings. We had to pull it off, we had to,” Draper said with conviction. 

Meanwhile, Power 92.3’s DJ Pharris, DJ Nehpets, DJ Commando, DJ Amaris and Hot Rod were on the 1s and 2s while Parker, Hot Rod, G-Herbo, and community activists Joey G and Nico Naismith played basketball with the kids. A nonprofit Hoop Bus was set up with a small hoop with Black Lives Matter symbols and the names of victims who were killed by police officers. 

G-Herbo, who has been volunteering his time to the kids of Chicago throughout 2020 says that events like this are important to build and strengthen Black unity across the city. “It’s beyond just being able to feed and provide, it’s allowing people to feel unity in the city. This is the city coming together and a lot of important and powerful people coming from the city, all walks of life coming together for a positive reason and that’s what it’s all about.” When asked if this event defied the stigma of Chicagoans not being unified, Herbo exclaimed, “Absolutely! We unified right now and it’s only gon’ get better, so we’re just trying to lead by example and make this normal. This is not just an event, this gotta be the normal for guys like myself and for the city.”

And the people who showed up to receive their free groceries were more than appreciative. Takara, a mother from the Southside of Chicago says that while she found out about the food drive at the last minute,“It’s a lot of food out here, a lot of good people out here and it’s something that we need. Events like this are very necessary and it’s filling the need for families who can’t feed their children during these times. I wish I could have volunteered and done something more, but we need this.”

In a one-on-one with VIBE, the legendary Tony Draper talks about his connections to Chicago, the importance and impact of the Feed Your City Challenge, the role celebrities play in activism, and more. 

VIBE: Earlier you shared that Oct. 17th was also the day that Rapmaster Pinkhouse passed away. For the younger readers who might not know who Rapmaster Pinkhouse is, could you share who he was and why he was so important to Chicago?

Draper: For young people that don't understand how music was heard back then, there was no social media [in the early 90s], there was no Instagram, so you had to get your record to the hottest person in the city. That person had to make a decision about whether it was good or not. And if that person touched your record in Chicago, that person would spread, it was automatic. That’s what happened to a young Tony Draper with 8Ball & MJG’s first albums. He put his hands around it and he exposed it to the Chicago market. Every time I think about Chicago, I always think about Pinkhouse. Pinkhouse was the main reason why I even came to Chicago.

Talk about that. What was Chicago like for you when you first came here?

Coming to Chicago was a very interesting moment for me because when I came, I had my hat cocked a certain type of way and I didn’t know the rules and regulations. And he told me, “Tony, man you gotta keep that hat straight (laughs). And I kept it straight ever since. So, for me, doing my journey as a young Black man from the inner city, raised by a single parent, establishing Suave House at 16 years old, seeing what I went through to establish [the company], and make it a force to be reckoned with. That was an accomplishment, but also I wanted to touch people I knew understood the music and understood where I was coming from and the importance of a young Black man that was a true, independent CEO and giving me the avenue to get my music heard. I’m from Memphis, raised in Houston, but Chicago is Suave House’s biggest market to this date. They supported everything Suave House did and I wanted to bless them [with the Feed Your City Challenge], the same way they blessed me.

With the conversation within the music business revolving around Black Lives Matter and supporting Black communities, what do you think it’ll take to get many of these CEO and executives from the major labels to support these communities like what you and many of the artists have been doing across the country?

I think they have to be involved with people they’re not comfortable with. Stop giving money to these organizations you think is giving the money to Black people, because they’re not. Nobody is holding these organizations accountable. Do business with somebody that has their finger on the pulse. A person that you know is in the music business that has been very successful in the business. Like right now, the Feed Your City Challenge, we’re in our ninth city. We’ve had eight of the top music artists host these cities without funding from the parent companies. [The artists] are giving the money themselves. Jhene Aiko gave money herself. Nick Cannon, himself. Rick Ross, 2 Chainz…Pee from Quality Control. 

Pee was on vacation in Mexico and he took a private jet back to Atlanta just to attend Feed Your City in Atlanta. He didn’t have to do that, but he did because he cares about where he’s from. He cares about the area. He wants to take [talent] from the area, but he also wants to give back to that community. See, white people want to come and exploit your community, but don’t want to build a library over there, never build a basketball court, never build anything. When an artist is dead, they say ahhh aahh ummm. If you wanted to demonstrate good character, you would have said, ‘I made a lot of money off that artist. Let me do something for that community as a token of appreciation for birthing that particular artist.’

I don’t think we’ve ever seen that before.

And you’ll never see it unless I do it and I am going to do it. That’s why I’m in Chicago. I’m going to every city that has blessed me and fed my family because every time I feed myself, I feed my family, my loved ones, it comes from my fans. My fans gave me the opportunity by buying my records. I had a dream, I had a drive, but without the opportunity, you might not have heard of Tony Draper. So, I’m always appreciative of people that have helped me, that’s why I want to help them. I’m in the best place I could ever be in my life. I’m 49 years old, I’m successful, I’m good. Bro, you want to know what makes me happy? Giving to somebody else. There’s another star out there that’s hoping and praying that they could get an opportunity and if I could give them that opportunity, I’ll give it to them. I don’t relish in the attention; I relish in the accomplishment. Let me help somebody. And if I help them and they become successful, they don’t owe me a quarter. I won’t sign them to a management deal or nothing. I just want you to acknowledge it and pass it on. See, we got to learn how to pass it on.

With the timing of this event brought on by the pandemic, how do you feel about it all?

I think it was God’s mission. With COVID that’s really unfortunate, a lot of people lost their lives during this pandemic. A lot of people have lost their jobs, their homes, their properties. My heart goes out to them. But if me and Ricky Davis can put a smile on a mother’s face, a father’s face and feed their children, that’s all I need. I remember me and my mother going to churches and food banks, walking with free government cheese, powdered eggs and we was happy. We were so happy, smiling and grateful. I think without that, I don’t think we would have made it to the following week. So, I’m always thankful for everything God blessed me with. I don’t think I’m special. I think that I had a plan and I stuck to my plan and made it happen.

Suave House has had a lot of artists who have always been outspoken about social and political issues, [similar to like an] Ice Cube recently. Considering that, and what you’re doing with these artists for the Feed Your City Challenge, do you think that the role of the celebrity today is to get in front of these issues or to fall back and support the people who're already doing the work?

I think it’s a choice. For me, I’m not a city official, I’m not a politician. I’m more comfortable with doing and getting my hands dirty on the ground. If I was in Chicago building houses for people, I would actually be there. I wouldn’t [just] send no money or send a crew there. I would be there. That’s how I feel blessed. I feel blessed by actually talking to the people and them seeing me out there distributing groceries. I feel good when a person drives up in their car and they pop their trunk and say ‘Draper?! You putting groceries in my car?!’ And they may be happy about ‘Space Age Pimpin’’ or ‘I’m So Tired of Ballin’’ or whatever, but just the mere fact that they were happy about me putting groceries in their car meant more to me than anything else. I think it’s a choice you make as an individual.

For a lot of people, some celebrities end up causing harm because their celebrity and actions might overshadow the actual issue.

You know what though? Without you being a celebrity, you might not be heard. So why not use that platform to be heard? I think LeBron James is phenomenal. I think Ice Cube is phenomenal. You don’t have to agree with him, but you have to respect him for speaking his mind and trying to get something for Black people. Nobody else did it! Nobody else took the initiative to write a Black America contract and present it to both [Biden and Trump] camps. So, I think that was a phenomenal move, whether I agree with it or not, it was still a phenomenal move. We got to stop with all this goddamn talking and do some action.

Draper and Davis’s Feed Your City Challenge will be arriving in Compton, California as their next stop on November 21.

Continue Reading
T.I.

Interview: T.I. Talks Activism, Verzuz Battle, And His Desire To Produce A Biopic On His Life Before Fame

Although Tip "T.I." Harris has earned some very respectable stripes as an emcee for his successful rap career, the self-proclaimed “King of the South” moniker really began to take true form once he stepped into his community activism calling. He’s acted in blockbuster films opposite Denzel Washington, Paul Rudd and Kevin Hart, but his willingness to speak truth to power has shown an unwavering commitment to being on the good side of history, as opposed to choosing silence to secure a spot on the good side of Hollywood.

During this recent conversation, Tip talks about his upcoming Verzuz battle with Jeezy, politics, the Trap Music Museum, and his desire to make his TV/film directorial debut.

Be sure to check out his newest album, L.I.B.R.A available on all streaming platforms.

Continue Reading

Ziggy Marley's First Time Voting In America

No more long talking from politicians. Today, the people have their say at the ballot box. Judging by the number of voters who showed up early this year, the 2020 election is going to smash all records for voter participation. With a deadly pandemic, wildfires, floods, economic pressure, and a struggle for survival playing out from the tweets to the streets, the stakes have never been higher.

If you're reading this right now and you haven't voted yet, it's not too late. Get up get out and let your voice be heard. As Samantha Smith recently discussed on her IG Live, this year's election is too important to sit out.

Snoop Dogg will be voting for the first time this year—and he's not the only one. Ziggy Marley voted for the first time this year also and documented the process on social media. "I decided to vote and I wondered to myself why," Ziggy wrote on his IG. "Then I thought about those who came before, the price they paid. In part, I am voting in honor of them and to honor them, to not belittle their many sacrifices and struggles with my high jaded righteousness and indifference. Many brothers and sisters from numerous backgrounds and origins marched, bled, and died to give people like me basic rights in 🇺🇸 , the right to be treated like a human being, the right to vote."

As the eldest son of the Robert Nesta Marley aka the King of Reggae, Ziggy is part of a mighty musical legacy, but his father is more than a musical legend.  The new film Freedom Fighter—part of the 75th anniversary series "Bob Marley Legacy"—examines Marley as a symbol of human rights with a voice more powerful than any politician.

Ziggy has continued his father's musical mission as a solo artist and part of the Grammy-winning family group Melody Makers. His 2018 album, Rebellion Rises opens with a song entitled "See Them Fake Leaders," leaving no doubt about his views on the institutions of government. Still, Ziggy remains engaged in the political process, doing his part and encouraging others to do the same.

"Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr, John Lewis, and others thought, 'Voting rights? Civil rights? Who cares? What difference will it make?'" Ziggy wrote on IG. "Just imagine what the world would have looked like now if not for their sacrifices. Go ahead, imagine it. Can you see it? Well, what do you think?"

"To be clear voting is not the end-all," Ziggy Marley added. "It is a small piece of a puzzle and just one of the tools in our toolbox that we must use as part of a larger effort to bring positive beneficial changes for all people. The work must continue at maximum effort after elections regardless of the outcome." Ziggy emphasized that he was not voting for a party or a person for an idea. "Even though we have differences we can be better human beings, more united human beings, more loving human beings, equal human beings, just human beings. The politics will come and go left right and center but still through it all the humanity that we must show to each other is not negotiable."

Ziggy voted by mail this year, but for those of you standing in line today to exercise your right and let your voices be heard, Ziggy curated a special playlist for Tidal's "Hold The Line" campaign. Music to vote by—from Ziggy and Bob to Fela and James Brown, not to mention Public Enemy and Rage Against The Machine.

Ziggy Marley’s new album, More Family Time, is out now on all music streaming platforms.

Continue Reading

Top Stories