The Pittsburgh Hip Hop Collective Interview
Jasiri X has many titles – emcee, community activist, journalist, edu-tainer, and mentor. Following in the footsteps of KRS-One, Dead Prez and Public Enemy, his message is one of social consciousness, shining a light on the injustices we face in society. Jasiri explains what inspired this format, “When I see injustices happening in my community or around the country I take it personally. I feel like the least I can do is speak out against it and to use my platform to raise awareness about what is really going on.”
Beyond his musical talent and career, Jasiri is in many ways a teacher. In all he does, he is educating, inspiring, and empowering others to questions what they are told and speak up for themselves. This is a core element to 1Hood Media Academy, which he helped found as a tool for youth to, “critically analyze messages, broaden their experience of media, and develop creative skills in creating their own media messages.” It’s mission is to ultimately help youth reshape their self-image beyond the distorted representations they are exposed to through traditional media, while cultivating their true voice.
His newest project, The Pittsburgh Hip Hop Collective, was developed to honor and celebrate Pittsburgh’s hip hop community, while once again empowering the youth.
We wanted to bring the Hip-Hop scene back that was at its height when the Shadow Lounge was open. Artists had a place to perform and be inspired by other artists, plus meet each other and collab. We felt it would be dope if Hip-Hop artists and members of the culture came together to produce and control our own scene. The mission is simply to provide Hip-Hop with a place to live and grow in Pittsburgh and artists a chance to showcase their talent.
The main element of the collective is a monthly event that aims to bring this community together.
We started calling our monthly events the Pittsburgh Renaissance because of a tweet that Kellee Maize sent out describing our event. It’s centered around empowering the next generation of artists and giving them a platform to perform. The biggest lesson I hope to teach the youth, is the industry is changing and there are so many ways to survive and thrive beyond just trying to make one hit song.
We asked Jasiri how the drastic shift in the music industry, spawned by the internet, has affected him:
I’m happy about the collapse of the music industry, because it let an artist like myself slip through the cracks. Social media and sites like Youtube have leveled the playing field and have allowed artists to build their own fanbase. I was able to find my lane and cultivate a career with no help from a major label or corporation.
Pittsburgh Renaissance events take place at The Alloy Studios in East Liberty once a month. The event includes a performance by a local artist, paired with a conversation with a successful hip hop artist sharing their knowledge on the industry. The next event is March 7 from 6:30-9:30pm and will feature local femcee Yah Lioness, and femcee pioneer Jean Grae in honor of Women’s History Month. Tickets are only $5, but seating is limited so get them before they’re gone.