Most contemporary rappers could care less about tackling topical discussions of the day, either ignorant of or intimidated by the difficult subjects of war and economic distress that dominate the news. But there are some emcees still trying to keep alive the once thriving tradition of artists utilizing their public profiles to address current issues, both in-song and in-person. Whether it is Big Boi protesting the execution of Troy Davis, or Lupe Fiasco protesting Wall Street oligarchs, there are thankfully still some Hip Hop artists who continue to “Fight The Power.”
Another outspoken poet, Tragedy Khadafi, (whose Rap moniker is a defiant protest in and of itself) is “still reportin’” on the topics most of his peers fail to cover 20 years after he debuted as the socially conscious Intelligent Hoodlum. And on his just-released Thug Matrix 3, Tragedy arguably ups the ante for artists spittin’ raw, “Narcotic Lines” aimed at the powers that be by letting loose on the leader of the free world.
On Thursday (September 22nd), Trag spoke to HipHopDX in-depth about his daring declaration that “Obama got his dome bleached.” The man who launched his career at 18-years-old by defiantly demanding that we “Arrest The President” also discussed in detail his current feelings towards the recently ousted leader of Libya, and his namesake, Moammar Gadhafi.
HipHopDX: I wanna start off by actually apologizing to you for the way the previous interview I did with you for DX back in March was presented. A majority of the commenters to the piece interpreted that headline – “Tragedy Khadafi Questions Reports Of Genocide By Moammar Gadhafi” – as meaning you were some sort of conspiracy theorist, when all you were saying is that you can’t take mainstream media reports on face value and need to do your own independent research into the situation.
Tragedy Khadafi: Exactly. So, I got some negative comments back on that, and it was kinda taken outta context. Let’s clear it up now then. Let’s start that up now so we can clear that up.
Tragedy Khadafi Speaks On Moammar Gadafi
DX: You told me last time we spoke that you had non-media sources that could provide you with accurate information about what was really going on in Libya. What did you learn about the situation that the mainstream media hasn’t reported?
Tragedy Khadafi: Well, I learned that one thing about that individual – speaking on Moammar Gadhafi – is that he’s very passionate, or should I say compassionate. He has a lot of empathy for people that struggle.
He was one of the very few individuals when they gave a U.N. address a few months ago who really promoted that all Africans unite. He included himself as an African. So, when you look at a person’s character, or you look at a person’s ways, behavior and lifestyle, and you also look at some of the things they’re being accused of, you gotta add that up. You gotta add that up and say, Well, this is a man who openly – not only just identified himself with people of Asiatic or African dissent, he basically gave out a call for all Africans to unite. And [he also] included … the President of Venezuela, [Hugo Chavez]. He was actually [reaching out] to our Hispanic brethren, basically saying like, “Listen, you’re African too, and we all need to unite.”
This is an individual who has a certain understanding. And normally, people with this kind of understanding don’t turn around and slay their own people just out of cold-blood or anything like that. Normally there is some type of reasoning behind that, where it’ll give you an understanding of why this person reacted this way.
I’m not making excuses for him or anybody else, I’m just saying, again, just to kinda reiterate what I was initially trying to say is that this is not an individual who is a cold-blooded killer, a person who wants to just go out and massacre people, especially his own people.
He’s tried to give money to the Nation of Islam to help their plight, and help them with growth and development, because he seen them striving to accomplish certain things and do for the people. He’s tried to give [money to] former gang members who turned spiritual, and who have turned around their lives and wanted to give back to their communities and help the youth and empower the youth and basically tell the youth not to fall victim to the same things they fell victim too, but they didn’t have the funds to go out there and create certain programs. He’s tried to give them money. He’s tried to do these things, and all in the name of freedom, justice, and more so than anything, equality. And when someone deals with equality, they have a better understanding of human life. They’re not just gonna take human life.
So, I say all that to say, again, we gotta really look into things, and we gotta look at the history of this media. Sometimes things are perpetuated against people for a reason.
DX: I think you already answered this next question … You told me back in March that if it was in fact true that Gadhafi had been committing genocide, you would consider dropping the “Khadafi” from your name. You obviously have kept the “Khadafi,” so were you not sufficiently convinced that Gadhafi had been in fact killing civilians?
Tragedy Khadafi: I’m definitely not convinced of that. And also, that’s something I’m kinda just keeping for now, for certain purposes. But, I’m totally gonna like change my whole attribute anyway. And it has nothing to do with Moammar Gadhafi. I’ve evolved past that.
I relate that [name] to the whole [Capone-N-Noreaga] War Report days – the golden era of Hip Hop, the ‘90s. To me, that was the golden era. And, I relate that to that time. That name is for that time. And now, I’ve evolved, I’ve grown. I’ve had children. I got married. Since then, I’ve experienced a whole lot more … and I’ve come to learn a lot more about life, about humanity, and more so about myself, man. I’m good with who I am and where I’m at right now, just as a human being. And that’s like … I’ve never felt like this before. I’ve had millions in my account, and I’ve never felt this good.
DX: I don’t know, you might wanna keep the Khadafi name. ‘Cause it’s got even more of an outlaw connotation right about now. It’s pretty apparent that Gadhafi ain’t planning on going out like Saddam – more like Uday and Qusay.
Tragedy Khadafi: Yeah, exactly. He can’t go out like Saddam, ‘cause he’s a different character. You talking about two different individuals. When they ran up in Saddam’s crib and all that – and don’t get me wrong, they committed some atrocities against Saddam’s family.
And, again, when we relate this to information, and we relate it to the source of information – You know how they say, “Don’t kill the messenger?” When it comes from this side of the [hemisphere] sometimes, you have to question the messenger. And [then] when you question the messenger, it has you look more intensely into the message that that messenger is trying to convey to you. And you have to say, “Why is this particular messenger conveying this particular message to me?” And until you do that, you’re really not thinking for yourself [and] thinking with a free conscious.
That’s why I say … the person I am today has kinda moved past “Khadafi.” [I’ve] even moved past a name, it’s more of a number now. My name or so-called name will be represented by a number, because a number represents more than a name. A number represents life itself. So that’s what I wanna represent, I wanna represent life. And I know my critics are gonna have something to say about that, and I’m cool with that. Like, I’m so comfortable with that. … I wanna represent life, opposed to just representing Queensbridge, opposed to representing New York, or just representing the struggle. Life is more than struggle. I’m not gonna limit myself anymore, man. And I’ve done that based on the way that I’ve been taught to think …. Yo, life is beautiful, man. Life is so much more than that.
DX: Well let me hit you with just one more Gadhafi-related question.
Tragedy Khadafi: Talk to me, talk to me.
The Intelligent Hoodlum Speaks About President Barack Obama
DX: I’m just curious to get your thoughts on how President Obama has handled the situation in Libya. ‘Cause I can’t help but feel like if this support to overthrow a government – shooting missiles into and bombing a sovereign nation – was happening and it was President Bush and not President Obama there’d be massive protests in the streets of America.
Tragedy Khadafi: Of course. And I have a record called “Ill-Luminous Flow” where I talk about [President Barack] Obama having “his dome bleached.” And that wasn’t for shock value, that’s just how I feel. That’s just how I see things, or I saw it at that particular moment. And, the reason why I say that – I’m not exempt from having my dome bleached. No one is. This is the world we live in. This is the reality, and the reality is that our thoughts are shaped by our environment, by our society.
And in Obama’s case, his thoughts could be being shaped by a particular party, or a particular … office, or a particular organization or society that’s behind what he does or partially helps him make certain decisions.
People are gonna play things safe. And when you play things safe for a particular reason, you’re not gonna necessarily focus on the “black issue.” You know, some people feel that there is no black issue anymore. I’m walking down the street in the Village right now, and if I look around me it doesn’t seem to be any kind of issue. But it’s always gonna be an issue. When you have police killing young black males, and you look at the statistics of that in comparison to young white males being killed – which is virtually none … then that’s an issue. But what makes it a deeper issue – and it all relates to my point, just walk with me – is when you have black officers who are in cahoots with other so-called officers killing the black children. That means if that black officer has his dome bleached – and I want everyone to understand “dome bleached” has nothing to do with being racist. When I refer to it being bleached, being white, [I mean] not white in terms of European but white in terms of white supremist thinking. As to say that a black life has no value, and it can be taken by an institution of racism. And there’ll be no consequences, and there’ll be no repercussions, and we will answer to no one.
So when I say [Obama] has his dome bleached, when you have a man who is of a certain ethnicity who should have a certain understanding, who should have a certain empathy for those within this country who are suffering at the hands of a system that’s supposed to help perpetuate life for all, protection for all and equality for all, and serve humanity, and that’s not happening, then there’s something wrong when he’s not addressing that. And he’s not addressing it for a reason. It’s not that he’s not seeing it …. How could you not know that this is happening? And then when you get up and you say statements like, “Well, we’re gonna leave it up to the justice system; we’re gonna have faith in our justice system,” that tells me that to a certain degree you have your dome bleached.
There are some aspects of the man that I can definitely highly respect. There’s great things he’s done in certain areas in certain ways where he’s thinking about the people, but it’s more generalized. When we need a leader who’s gonna customize this muthafucka. He need to start customizing in this muthafucka like yesterday.
DX: Well, I appreciate you droppin’ this knowledge, man. I don’t wanna go too deep though, we’ll be here all day. [Laughs]
Tragedy Khadafi: Yeah, no doubt. And then you know what’ll happen? I won’t get a chance to talk about the record; I won’t get a chance to talk about music. And we know the majority of the streets, a lot of them, they don’t wanna hear this shit, man. They wanna hear the poison.
Tragedy Khadafi Breaks Down Thug Matrix 3
DX: Well speaking of the music, what’s up next on your itinerary? I don’t wanna jump ahead of Thug Matrix 3, but is The Last Report still coming?
Tragedy Khadafi: Of course, The Last Report is still coming. But let’s keep it in the now, ‘cause if I keep one foot in the future that means I’m shittin’ on right now. That’s definitely coming - I’m a father, I’m a friend, I’m active in my community, I volunteer. I do a lot of volunteer work. I’m in school to be a counselor for chemical and substance abuse. I’m a revolutionist, man. But I fight my revolution through the mind, and I fight it through education and information. I learned that from Huey [Newton] and them.
DX: Well there’s a lot of education and information on that Thug Matrix 3 for sure.
Tragedy Khadafi: Yeah, yeah, I hope most people catch it. I hope it falls into the hands of some women who have their children on medication because they were told their children have attention deficit, and that their children are incompetent to learn. I hope some of those mothers listen to it. I hope some fathers who have children like that listen to it. I hope some fathers and mothers who are not really instrumental in their children’s lives listen to that song “Each One, Teach One.” And [I hope they] understand like I had to understand myself that we make mistakes, we fall, but we gotta dust ourselves off and keep it moving, and strive to advance and grow. And that’s what it’s all about.
I don’t give a fuck about no cars. I don’t give a fuck about fucking every chick across the board. I don’t give a fuck about that. To me, that’s poison, man. And a lot of times I straddled the fence, I rode on the line wit’ it because I felt like, “Yo! I gotta rep the streets.” But that conscious part of me would seep out. To me, it’s about having a good time, but it’s [also] about being aware. Fuck all that other shit.