• July 21st, 2024


ART: @eldanieluk

Many people are talking about abolition and revolution in 2021. They philosophize and come up with different theories about how to change the world. And then there are people who are actually doing the work to combat government neglect, corporate exploitation, and systemic fuckery.

T-Dubb-O, one of the central organizers of the Ferguson Uprising, is a dynamic emcee and an innovative entrepreneur that not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. I sat down with him to discuss words versus actions, hashtag activism, owning your masters, meeting Obama, rebel art, and his latest album “Don’t Stop At Lights.”

Mordecai Lyon, Editor in Chief

(interview conducted April 24, 2021 / edited for brevity)

MORDECAI LYON: What are the dangers of talking about revolution and not being willing to live it?

T-DUBB-O: It’s dangerous talking about anything that you’re not willing to live, whether it’s revolution, whether it’s gangster shit, whether it’s street shit. There’s a lot of rappers that talk a lot of things, where they claim gangs or claim they bout this, and in all actuality they ain’t about none of it, haven’t lived none of it. So, in regards to revolution, it’s the same thing. You know, people can get on Twitter and talk the most radical things in the world until they got police trailing them and following them and they fold like a chair at a WWE match.

People start to see how real it is at that point, when you’re getting constantly harassed, when you lose a job or you can’t get a job. Or you losing certain opportunities. The constant harassment. The death threats that you’re going to get from white supremacists, as well as police officers, government officials.

I think in regards to revolution, or to anything that you’re going to speak on or be dedicated to, you got to really be dedicated to it. It can’t be something that you’re just talking about. And I think that’s one of the issues with the movement. It’s a lot of viral activists, and don’t get me wrong, my fiancé says this all the time: “There’s a place in the movement for everybody and every place isn’t for everybody.” But when you’re dealing with something as crucial as saving lives and liberation, you know what I’m saying, freedom? I don’t think there’s room for hashtag activism.

LYON: I think one of the fundamental issues when we’re talking about systemic racism and all these institutions that we want to change, is that we’re not first talking about the war. And that, not only are we at war, we are dealing with the aftermath of many wars, and are trying to figure out how to put the pieces back together. And because people aren’t even willing to admit that there is a war between oppressed people and those who are doing the oppressing, we’re not able to talk about changing the system. Many affluent white people are oblivious to the fact that they are on the victor’s side of war, while thinking to themselves, “How do I give concessions while keeping my pot?” But we’re like, no, there’s a war going on, we’re trying to end the war.

T-DUBB-O: I don’t even think they oblivious. I think that’s just a defense mechanism. When someone has privilege and you start talking about equality, those people start to feel oppressed. They’re thinking that they have this amazing thing that they’re holding on to, that they’re born with, that belongs to them, and everybody else needs some of it. So, they can feel sorry for the people who don’t have it cause they can realize they need it.

It’s like having an umbrella and it’s raining. There’s a thunderstorm, right? And you’re walking down the street with an umbrella and there’s people on the street that don’t have an umbrella. And you looking at them and you, the so-called progressive white folks, you looking at them and you’re like, “Oh, I feel sorry for them because they don’t have an umbrella. Somebody should give them an umbrella.” But they’re not going to walk over to the crowd and hold their umbrella and share it, or take turns with their umbrella, because they don’t want to get wet. So, they do realize that it’s a war. They’re looking at it.

I’m one of the people that believes slavery never died, it was just reformatted in a different way. So, there is people that are oblivious to the things that are going on that we have to deal with, but I think the majority of the population don’t want to lose their comfort.

LYON: When Mike Brown was murdered in Ferguson, what inspired you to get in the streets and help lead the uprising?

T-DUBB-O: It was just a drop that spilled the cup. Just a little bit of history on St. Louis. We’ve never had a huge, huge Black power movement come through here. This is one of the most racist and segregated cities in America. I got family in the south, so I spent many summers of my childhood down in the south, even now visiting. I know parts of Tennessee like the back of my hand, like I know St. Louis, and yeah there’s racism down there. But it’s a different type of racism, down there, they don’t care about you getting money, taking care of your family, thriving. People who are still perpetuating racism, they just want you to do all of those things away from them.

Here in St. Louis, they don’t even want you thriving. They got their foot on your neck every possible way; systemically, politically, financially. Every single possible way that they could do it within the law. It’s oppression and racism. Growing up and studying Huey P. Newton and Fred Hampton and the different revolutionaries that I started to resonate with I wondered why I’d never seen a huge Black power movement come through St. Louis. And then just dealing with these different things on a daily basis.

Life in St. Louis for a young Black male is hell. It is one of the most, if not the most, dangerous places in the nation to grow up as a young black male. You got 10 times a chance to be murdered here by a police officer if you’re a Black male than anybody being murdered by anybody around the nation. These are facts, proven statistics. The FBI did a study, listed this as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. We’re always top three in the murder rate and the murder rate through the roof. We’ve been breaking our own murder rate every year. Losing all my friends as a teenager as a young adult, going to so many funerals, being a victim of the school to prison pipeline, having children and looking at all these things that I hate, that I just want to change, and I felt powerless to do so.

T-DUBB-O: Also, I’m going to be real with you; me and Tef Poe made a vow to each other about six months before that situation occurred. We did a show in Baton Rouge and we got off the road and were sitting at his crib. He had moved into my neighborhood and when I found out he lived over there, I went over and I introduced him to some people so he’d be good. Tef is from a rival political fashion. You know what I’m saying? He’s associated with Bloods and I’m associated with Crips. I wanted to introduce him to the folks over there, so they know he’s a good dude and he isn’t going to have no issues.

And then I started kicking it over there with him and we was talking about the Trayvon Martin situation. And we was like, man, something like that ever happened in St. Louis again, because we had just dealt with the Carey Ball situation, downtown St. Louis, you know, he got shot over 20 times with his hands up. They said he had a gun, but he put his hands up. The weapon was down and they still shot him 20 plus times while inside his car. So, when the Trayvon Martin situation happened, Tef and I made a vow. We said, “this shit ever happened to St. Louis, we burning the city down.” And lo and behold, six months later, we was dealing with that situation.

And when I first seen it, I’m so used to these different things happening in St. Louis, I was numb to it. Then something told me to dive deeper into the story. And that’s when I got on social media and I saw that picture of Mike Brown’s step-dad holding a sign that said “the police murdered my unarmed son.” I started looking at what people were saying, and I just felt myself losing it. I started crying. I didn’t know where it was coming from cause I’m the type of person I’ve been hiding my emotions forever. We was bred that way. And before I knew it, I was in Ferguson and I never went back inside.

LYON: I know Tef’s music career was impacted by participating in the Ferguson uprising. Was that something you felt?

T-DUBB-O: Oh yeah. His and mine. I had three situations on the table that I was working out in regards to music when Ferguson happened. And in the midst of Ferguson, the more interviews I started doing, the more organizing I was doing, as we became higher and higher up on the police radar, every situation started to pull away. Me and Tef was actually on tour when Ferguson happened, I jumped off the tour to be outside. The deals that was on the table, they pulled away. They told us, you know, “this Black Power shit wasn’t the way,” which is ironic because when the George Floyd situation happened, all these labels want to tweet Black Lives Matter, but they don’t want to give Black artists the masters. That’s another conversation, but we definitely felt the effects.

LYON: Well, that’s something I want to talk about too. I’m an entrepreneur, you’re an entrepreneur, and you know, a lot of people that are in the movement talk a lot of anti-capitalism talk. And capitalism does need to be attacked, but I want to separate owning your own masters and starting your own production company, like you have done with AMG, from supporting the institutions that are keeping the status quo in place. And instead of financing them by spending money with them, spending money with people that we know.

T-DUBB-O: I totally agree with you, but if we’re going to do it like for real, for real, then people are gonna lose their comfort altogether. That means you’re not going to be paying these electric companies. You’re not going to be paying these gas companies. You’re not gonna be paying these cell phone companies. You’re not gonna be paying these internet bills. Real revolution means all of their comfort goes out the window. I’m ready for it. I don’t know if the world is ready for it. You know what I’m saying? Like we are prepared, I’m a heavy advocate in regards to gun ownership. We have that, you know what I’m saying? I know how to survive out here.

But the world isn’t ready for that. And I feel like in regards to most of the movement that talks about capitalism and deconstructing capitalism are the same people who are comfortable and don’t have to worry about a fucking dollar. Most of my homies, they got to get out here and hustle on a daily basis just to put some food in their stomach.

So yeah, we can talk about deconstructing capitalism. But are people really ready to give up their comfort? Because my people are already starving. So, the people who are educated enough to even understand these different ideologies, that have the privilege to do so, are they really prepared for that is the question?

LYON: So what are we doing? Are we just going to continue to ask for little bits of concession in this fucked up system that’s fucking us all over? Or are we going to do what T-Dubb-O is doing? And try to build a family and an institution that we can all thrive under, which is what I want to start imagining. So on this new album, “Don’t Stop At Lights,” which I have been listening to since it came out just a couple of weeks ago. This is the best album I’ve heard in 2021 by far. I can’t even think of a second. It’s a complete album cover to cover. And I can’t remember what song it’s on, but there’s one verse where you’re imagining a new future and you’re imagining–

T-DUBB-O: I just had a vision // I just made a billion // all my n*ggas winning // all my n*ggas living // all my n*ggas free and out of prison // taking care of their children // man it takes a village // buying back the block // fixing vacant buildings // keep the grass cut // when the snakes is hissing // Dubb Van Gogh let me paint the picture. Ya, that’s on “Look What I Done.”

LYON: “Look What I Done,” man. I’ve listened to it probably 30, 40 times already. I feel like other people are having that same reaction. And so let’s talk about a vision, a future where we can all thrive collectively with our own resources and keeping our resources within our own communities. What are you trying to build? What’s the vision?

T-DUBB-O: I hear the movement talk about everything but financial liberation. And seeing that we live in a culture of capitalism and in a culture of consumerism — just the addiction of consumerism alone would be the biggest variable in regards to deconstructing capitalism — we have to start focusing on financial liberation and financial empowerment within the oppressed community. That’s where the majority of the power in regards to oppression is coming from. The fact that we don’t own anything. Nothing is ours. We don’t even control Black music. Black people don’t even control Black music. We don’t control the sports that we dominate. We don’t control anything that we’re an asset to. That’s what I’m focused on in regards to what I can control in my atmosphere.

There’s an artist here in St. Louis, an independent artist by the name of Bo Dean. He was involved in the movement and he’s also a high school teacher. One of the most talented lyricists the city has ever produced. And in 2018, when I started doing a lot of different things with T Woodley, Wiz Khalifa, Berner, traveling, doing all these different things, he saw me at the door and he was like, “Bro, all the homies just need to get behind you.” And I’m the type of person to be like, “Nah, you know, everybody don’t need to get behind me. Y’all need to get on side of me. We need to run together.”

I pondered on his idea for quite some time and then I said, “you know what, I’m gonna start a label, but it’s not going to be the typical label where I’m signing artists and I’m putting them onto the same type of oppression based business practices.”

T-DUBB-O: At AMG we have partnerships. We are basically the umbrella company, meaning distribution and access to the resources that I have to help other independent artists get to the next level. And when we bring you in, if you don’t already have your own company, we gonna show you how to start one. And when you start your own company, you’re going to take your company and you’re going to partner with ours. It’s how you’ll still own your shit. You’ll still have control of your art. It’s a partnership. You can also grab people from around your circumstances and uplift them as well.

That’s what I’ve been on in regards to ownership, because at the end of the day, we’ve seen so many rappers in this city get murdered because they don’t have an opportunity. I’m talking shining stars. People that could have been international celebrities. Last year alone, I think 12 rappers were killed. Just having that vision of ownership, where everybody can eat and you continue to get residual income, even when you want to be done with rap. And we see so many rappers go broke because they signed shitty deals, whether it was a 360 deal or their publishing wasn’t right.

There’s no way a legend like DMX should die in a financial position that he was in. There’s no way some of the legends, the forefathers of hip-hop should die in some of the financial positions that they’re in, you feel me? And meanwhile you got billion dollar rappers? That should never happen. I think we have to get away from that. Even if it’s just that Black people stop doing business of this sort. Stop signing artists to 360 deals and give them a percentage of their masters. I understand how the business works; you bring people in, you put money into them, and make the deal work for you, but make it work for the artist as well. So, when they decide to walk away from rap, they still get something off of their hard work. Their children get something off of their hard work.

LYON: There’s a bigger problem on the table that I know you’re constantly dealing with. This album that you just put out is a masterful piece. Its production is top tier. It’s a beautiful work. You got the love songs. You got the baby making songs, you got the hard songs, you got the stay up all night and work songs like “More Lit.” It’s crazy. But how do you get the ears on the music? How do you–

T-DUBB-O: Navigate the bullshit?

LYON: Yes, how do you navigate the bullshit? Because I look at you, at Tef Poe, at Rockwell Knuckles. And I’m like these three rappers are more talented or are equally as talented as anybody that anybody knows, but it seems like there’s this bubble that’s around your music that you can’t bust through unless you sign a deal with the devil. So, how do you cut through the stranglehold?

T-DUBB-O: How we used to do it was actually just getting on the road and doing shows. Performing was one of the biggest things in regards to growing our fan base. Every time we hit a city and turned up, it was undeniable. Besides that, this is something that I get upset with the movement community about because we don’t use the biggest tool of this culture, which is hip-hop. Hip-hop is the most popular thing on the planet. Why don’t we use that? We can change the world. We can educate so many people. We could provide so many opportunities.

They’re saying BLM has collected up to this point around a billion dollars. Do you know how many different opportunities we could have put in the hood with that type of money? Whether it was starting recording studios, whether it was starting art production studios, whether it was starting our own TV station, radio station, streaming service, social media platforms, buying the corner stores that we don’t own. There’s so many different things that we could have done.

If we can organize and get behind artists that really stand for something, we can make some waves that they can’t stop. But the movement don’t rock with artists who are really in the movement. They like rappers who just talk about it, not rappers who’re actually doing it, they don’t fuck with that.

T-DUBB-O: At this point we are all about ownership. I want to build artists up and give them an opportunity. And stop these artists, you know, from risking their lives. They out here signing $25,000 360 deals, getting the chain, and then taking that advance right back to the dope house to cop again to try and flip that money. So before their first single drops, they’re fighting fed charges when they could have changed their life. And it’s our own people to sign them to this bullshit. So, I’m just trying to change that for St. Louis, and provide opportunities for these kids that love hip-hop, who got the talent, that just don’t have another way out.

LYON: I’m excited for what’s to come. I do want to go back, you’ve mentioned a couple of gripes that you have with the movement. We’re in an interesting position right now, where a lot of people are falling back once Trump was out of office. A lot of people disappeared, right?

T-DUBB-O: It’s always like that. It’s always this one big thing that people focus on and get people all riled up. The last four years it was Trump. “We got to get Trump out of here.” And I used to make a lot of Black people mad when I’d say, “Why y’all so afraid of Trump?” And they’d say, “Well, he’s racist.” And I’d say, “What rich white person not? Your boss is racist. The police officers you come in contact with on a daily basis are racist. Your doctor is probably racist. Uh, why are you so afraid of Trump? What has been different with any president in regards to our community?”

What has been different? Nothing. I’d tell them, “You letting these white people trick you into thinking that Trump is the fucking antichrist and that he has to go.” But that was the movement people doing that because they no longer had access to White House money. When they don’t have access to White House money, it’s all “y’all got to get Trump out of there.”

But when Obama was in office, more Black men were murdered by police than lynched at the peak of slavery. These are facts. More Black and Brown countries were bombed than any other president in history. These are facts. More immigrants were deported than any other president in history. These are facts. I didn’t see Black folks going at Obama like that. And I’m one of the people that went to the White House and met him, sat in and advised him about Ferguson. These are facts.

T-DUBB-O: So, what are we talking about? Trump wasn’t really a threat to me in my life. He wasn’t going to affect my hood. There was a meme floating around the Internet that had a picture of the ghetto, you know, with vacant buildings, busted windows, boarded up doors, and it said “the hood” with every president listed above. It’s still the same, no matter who’s elected, my block still got this vacant building right here, still boarded up. Same crackhead still going to be sitting right there, still going to have a shooting once a week. I know what time the police coming through. It’s the same. So, yeah, voting is a piece on the chess board, but in regards to our fight it’s not the end all be all by any means.

I say all that to say, people fall back once they feel like what got them interested in the movement in the first place is done. So, a lot of people got involved with Ferguson. When Ferguson got off the news, a lot of people fell back or they followed the next ambulance. They followed the next hashtag, whether that was George Floyd, or Philando Castile, or Breonna Taylor, whatever it was, they followed that next hashtag. Chasing the smoke, looking for the dead body, because a dead black body in regards to activism means more money for an organization.

That’s what I’m talking about when I say hashtag activism. All these people joined the movement because of Trump. “We got to get Trump out of there.” Trump’s gone, so they feel like they won something. Life is back to normal. Well, it’s not normal for us because we just eclipsed our homicide rate for the year here in St. Louis and Trump is gone.

So, are you really with liberation? When you say Black Lives Matter, do you really mean that? Do you really mean it? Do you mean those lives that can’t get a job? They got to sell drugs to put some diapers on their baby. Do their lives matter? Do the lives matter of those that are in prison? Do the lives matter of those who are with addiction. Do the lives matter of the Black sex workers, the strippers, the single mothers, the street n*ggas, the kids with ADHD that don’t have a counselor to speak to? Do those lives matter, or just the ones that’s comfortable for you to put into the light? The ones that’s trending?

LYON: As someone who’s seen inside and out of the movement and have lived the life that you’ve lived, where the fuck do we go from here? I mean, other than, locally organizing and trying to build some kind of equity in an entrepreneurial way. Cause once you try to start a nonprofit — this is a nonprofit, The Boycott Times. And I know you know this from your time at Hands Up United, depending on the pockets of quote unquote liberal progressives is no way to live or to eat or to sustain because you’re spending all your time fundraising and not doing the work. So, other than creating local businesses, because that’s something you’re very passionate about, and knowing the law, as that is something you constantly advocate for. What is it that we are supposed to do in terms of getting people on the same page in the fight for liberation?

T-DUBB-O: I think the first thing that we got to do is get these vultures out of the way. The vultures have to leave the movement. And there’s white folks, Black folks, Latino, whatever you are, if you are a vulture in regards to black oppression, we got to get them the fuck out the way.

One of the first things that Biden has done, he worked with a couple pastors and different organizations that we’ve collaborated with. They put together a healthy fund in regards to hitting some of the biggest cities that have the larger gun violence rates. And St. Louis is getting like $500 million.

T-DUBB-O: Let me take it back some. I was trying to get out of the street, right? When I went to meet Obama I was still hustling. My phone was going crazy for drugs when I’m sitting there talking to Obama. I’m hustling, but at the same time, all these organizations are using me, taking advantage of me. They want me to fly here and train people in regards to this. They want to put my name on a flyer, so they can associate with the real motherfuckers in Ferguson. The more education I got, the more advancement, the more experience I received in regards to organizing, organizational structures, getting politically educated, in these different things. You think somebody would offer me a job so I can get out the streets.

Didn’t happen. They will have me come in and train the people that they’re hiring. Did you hear what I said? They’d have me come in and train the people that they were hiring, but if I apply, I couldn’t get the job. You know why? Because I’m a Crip, I’m an ex drug dealer. I’m a n*gga who really did the shit that they’re saying they’re fighting, so I can stop doing. But you won’t give me an opportunity to change that within myself, knowing that I could lose my life doing the shit that I was doing.

We got to get those people out of the way. I struggled for four years. I couldn’t get a job with no organization, local or national, couldn’t get a job. I sat back and watched them hire people that I had taught, you feel me? I’m somebody who got put out of high school with a 4.0 GPA. I had to go get my GED. I didn’t graduate with my class. I didn’t walk across the stage, but I taught a class at Princeton. And I couldn’t get a job at an organization, but they’ll bring me in to train their people.

These are the type of people that we have to get out of the way. So if we talking about real liberation. We have to put people in place that can lead this movement, that can bring all people together, that can provide opportunities for all people. Most organizers, they feel uncomfortable in the ghetto. They only show up when it’s voting time, they want to register somebody to vote. They want to come in and canvas in regards to this election. So you can vote for this person that’s going to get elected and the next day forget that they fucking exist.

And since that money is coming to St. Louis, I’ve been getting emails from everybody. Now, everybody wants to talk to me. Everybody got a job offer for me because y’all know y’all can’t get out there and stop gun violence. You can’t go where I can go and have these conversations. I can sit in the White House and have a theological conversation with the president. I could sit and have a conversation about business with captains of industries, of fortune 500 companies, millionaires, billionaires. I can talk their lingo, but I can also go into trap house and rock up a brick if I need to.

So everybody wants to talk now. I’m hearing people argue over, “how can we get this money? How can we get this money? How can we get this money?” I watched a whole organization change their mission statement on their website to focus on reducing gun violence in hopes of getting this money. Not “how can we save some young black men from dying at 16. How can we stop these mothers from being shot. How can we stop Black people from needlessly dying.”

If we’re really gonna get some work done, we have to remove these vultures from the movement. And if we’re not gonna do that, then real motherfuckers got to come together and we got to get to the bag. We get to the bag, then we show our communities how to get to the bag, because we’re overloaded with crime because we’re poor. Poverty creates every catalyst for crime and every other disaster, including oppression.

LYON: For years, I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around picturing T-Dubb-O in the White House, shaking hands with Obama, sitting down with Obama and talking to Obama. So here’s my question, what did you ask the dude? But really what did you want to ask the dude? And what would you ask him now?

T-DUBB-O: Everybody had an opportunity to speak to him. And one of the main things that I really wanted to focus on was how they was basically fucking us up in Ferguson and he was doing nothing about it. They was using gases on us that is outlawed by the United Nations in times of war. And a lot of those things are funded by the 1033. So if you’re not familiar with the 1033 program, basically, that’s the thing that gives all of this military grade equipment to local police officers. St. Louis County has a grenade launcher. Orlando P.D., when I was arrested down in a protest, they had a grenade launcher; like what the fuck do you need a grenade launcher for? We don’t have real life villains like the Joker running around here, you don’t need a grenade launcher or hundreds of millions of dollars in military equipment when we don’t even have schools and school books.

So when he asked us what we wanted. My first demand was, I want you to eradicate the 1033 program. And his response was well, you know, that mainly provides office equipment. I said, it also provides mustard gas, tanks, and grenade launchers. The conversation began to get a little heated and he cut me off and he was like — cause I think he started to see that I was questioning his dedication to Black people — come here young man, let me show you my rug. Every president gets their own custom rug in their office, and the fact that he has had Martin Luther King on it, that was supposed to validate his stance on Black liberation.

LYON: Woh, woh, woh . . . he walks you over to the rug and he’s like, look, I got MLK on my rug, so calm down, I’m with the people? Are you serious?

T-DUBB-O: Basically, yes, and then at that point somebody intervened and stopped the meeting and we went over to the press conference room where he announced the task force on criminal justice reform. I later found out that we were there for a job interview. Because everybody got offered an opportunity to work on the task force, but me. But if I would’ve known then what I know now, I would’ve just took over the entire conversation from start to finish and it would’ve just been me and him going back and forth. I would’ve just got off my chest, what I needed to say. And I probably would’ve just walked out.

LYON: So, say it right now. You’re talking to the president, what do you say to him?

T-DUBB-O: I would just ask him, was he afraid? And, and do you really love Black people? Because at the end of the day, people used to always say that you were getting out voted and the republicans outweighed your decisions. But I think people misconstrue our understanding of how government actually works, because we’re well aware and informed in regards to how the executive order works. We know that when the president really wants to make something happen, he can do it. We know certain bills on his desk, certain executive orders could have helped us all tremendously. And I can’t say that he didn’t do what he said he was gonna do. He kept his word. He did everything he said he was going to do. He never once said that he was going to be a champion for Black people. When he got in the White House, he said he was going to focus on LGBTQ rights and healthcare and he did that. So, I would ask him, “do you really love Black people?”

LYON: This has been hella enlightening. Just one more thing before we sign off here. I want to talk about the words audacity and energy. And I want to talk about doing what you gotta do to manifest and to keep the program on track. But also what fuels your fire? What makes you so lit to come out here and make cutting edge music, while also trying to change people’s lives and employ people and figure out how to actually change the world around you?

T-DUBB-O: If we don’t, who will? And I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of this shit. I don’t want my kids growing up in this. I don’t want nobody else’s kids growing up in this. I want them to have opportunities; to be able to thrive whatever they dream and whatever they can visualize. And I want them to have the same opportunity to be able to do so. One of the things that we started at “Hands Up United” was a program called “It’s Okay To Dream” about propelling dreams within children. If you say you want to be an astronaut, we’re going to try to figure out a way to help you do that. Even if that means, raising funds to send you to the NASA space camp down in Florida. Like those are the things that I really want to do because I didn’t have that opportunity, you know what I’m saying?

That’s what drives me to change this shit, because I can’t accept it. I’m not one of them people that wake up in the morning and be like, “okay, the world is fucked up and I’m cool with it.” That ain’t me. And I’m trying to instill that in everybody around me. That’s why everybody that’s associated with AMG have to dedicate time to the community. That’s a commitment that they have to agree to before they come do business with me. You have to dedicate time to the community.

That’s what fuels it; life in general. All these experiences that I went through and just knowing that all these things that are against us is stopping us from living our wildest imaginations. So, just trying to instill that in everybody I come in contact with and letting them know, that they are valuable, you are valued. You can accomplish whatever you want to accomplish if you put your mind to it. So, fuck the odds and let’s go get it. And if we don’t get it, shit, we gonna die trying, but we gonna die together.

Mordecai Lyon
Mordecai Lyon
Editor in Chief
Lyon is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and a contributor at The Undefeated & Boston Review . As a researcher he contributed to the publication of Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It by Wendell Potter and Nick Pennimen. Lyon spends his time between New York City and Cambridge, MA. Read Lyon's Boston Review interview with Cornel West here and his interview with Lorgía Garcia-Peña here.

More Smoke


In Episode 9, Mordecai interviews Leah Goodridge, the only tenants’ rights attorney on the NYC Department of City Planning, about her work as a tenant advocate.

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Mordecai Lyon interviews Matthew Lee from Students For Fair Rent about their rent strike against the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

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Mordecai Lyon interviews Valeria Racu from the Madrid Tenants Union in Spain about class conflict and their current rent strike.

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Tef Poe and Mordecai Lyon talk to Dr. Cornel West about his presidential campaign and how the past, future and present are all intertwined.

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Mordecai Lyon interviews Sameer Beyan from the Thorncliffe Park Tenants Union about their current rent strike in Toronto, Canada and how the public pension fund is implicit.

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