Rocking the house at the rallies during the national Millions More Movement
tour of Minister Farrakhan this past fall, rapper D.A. Smart has re-emerged on
the hip hop scene with a fierce mission to raise the consciousness of the
people. In this one on one interview, Final Call Online Correspondent Ashahed
Muhammad delved into what drives D.A.’s lyrical talent.
Ashahed Muhammad (AM): Do you consider yourself a hip
hop activist or a conscious rapper?
D.A. Smart (DA): A reality rapper.
AM: How did it feel to be asked by Minister Farrakhan to join his
national Millions More Movement tour?
DA: The emotions, to this day, are indescribable. It was
overwhelming. It was the greatest thing that ever happened to me in my rap
AM: Is there a place for conscious lyrics in hip hop?
DA: Definitely, especially now. Conscious hip hop is
definitely going to come to the forefront again because it’s needed, it’s a
necessity. It is the means of communication to the people. The people are going
to make a demand for it, because all of this foolishness just isn’t getting us
AM: What do you try to convey in your lyrical content?
DA: I definitely want to convey truth. I definitely want to
convey consciousness. I want to raise the consciousness of the people. I want
them to be aware of what’s happening around them, what’s happening to them, and
the opportunities for them.
AM: What responsibility do rappers have for the shaping of
the minds of the youth?
DA: They have a great responsibility because hip hop as a
whole has been wielding influence over our youth and it’s been growing in great
numbers over the years.
AM: Do you think that it can actually go back to the time
where the lyrics and the actual production value of the songs are more important
than simply how someone is being packaged and marketed?
sample clip. (MP3)
DA: It’s going to
take a lot for us to go back to that, but it’s going to take a strong individual
to start that process to bring people back to the lyrics, back to the essence of
hip hop, back to where it started from… and I think that person is myself.
AM: How do you, as a conscious rapper, deal with being in
an industry that promotes the exact opposite?
DA: You do the best you can. Back in the day when hip hop
wasn’t as popular as it is now, we had what was called the underground. It
wasn’t as popular, but then it started getting popular and started selling more
records. I think we’re going to have to repeat that process all over again. If
we have to go underground, if we have to sell it not using the mainstream to get
it popular again, (then) we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.
But the point is, as long as it is truth and it’s what the people
want to hear, it’s going to be successful regardless.
AM: What are a few of the lessons that you have learned in
your experiences with the industry?
DA: I was signed to record labels that shelved me because of
my lyrical content. That’s something that I realized, too–that they’ll sign you
to shelf you! They’ll sign you and give you a couple of dollars just to shut you
up, because you have a spirit or a talent that could be marketed by itself
that’s strong and they don’t want that to get out.
Because of that, I don’t even want to get a deal and be a part of
these big conglomerates. I’d rather just do it on my own, start from the ground,
work my way up and create my own enterprise instead of looking for them to give
AM: As you traveled the United States, how were you
received? Are we beyond the mentality that “if you’re not from where we are
from, we won’t give you any respect”?
DA: I definitely think we’re past it, because everywhere I
went, I feel like I was received the same based on what I was talking about. The
message is consistent, which is also going to get rid of the East Coast/West
Coast, all of that madness. It’s an essential message that I’m getting out, and
AM: Any words of wisdom to those thinking of getting into
DA: You’re coming out here, you want to bling, you want to
shine, you want to be on nonsense; if that’s what you do, do what you do, but be
admonished, Brothers, that D.A. is here. I’m not dead. I’m still alive and
you’re going to have to recognize and reckon with your Brother.
I’m going to be at you if you’re not on anything positive. It’s
not that I’m out to battle them or be in some beef with them. It’s just that,
when you hurl truth at falsehood, it bashes out its brains. So, if you’re out
there on some B.S., that’s all that’s going to happen–your brain is going to get
AM: Thank you.