Hosted by Grey’s Anatomy actor/activist Jesse Williams, J. PERIOD’s collaborative album, RISE UP! Music Inspired by America Divided, is themed around social justice issues and includes contributions from artists like The Roots’ Black Thought, De La Soul’s Posdnous, Pharoahe Monch, Aloe Blacc, Joss Stone, Rhymefest, Xzibit, and Eric Roberson.The first single from RISE UP!, entitled “Miranda,” begins with an introduction from Williams, and rappers Rhymefest and Xzibit posing provocative questions about the state of our nation over a J.PERIOD-produced beat.
“This is a project inspired by my work on the EPIX original docu-series ‘America Divided,'” J. explains to HipHopDX. “I was asked to compose the theme song for the show, and in the process of producing the track, I got inspired to get more involved, create music around these issues, and help raise awareness. Musically, that inspired me to produce songs including ‘Miranda’ featuring Rhymefest, Xzibit and Jesse Williams, and ‘Rise Up!’ featuring Black Thought, Posdnous, Pharoahe Monch, and Joss Stone, both of which are featured on this project.
“It also inspired a version of my Live Mixtape series called ‘Remixing The Narrative,’ which we performed at the opening of the Smithsonian NMAAHC in D.C.,” he adds. “And finally, it sparked an idea to bring this conversation to fellow artists and help get them involved. That began at Jazzy Jeff’s Playlist Retreat, where I led a discussion about arts and activism with Young Guru, DeRay McKesson [Black Lives Matter], A.J. Jones of The Kellogg Foundation, and Rhymefest. The amazing thing to watch was how all the artists who participated in that conversation were equally inspired and motivated to take part, and how that energy got channeled in the studio making music. The result of that spark are the songs on this project, which you will hear on the forthcoming full length ‘RISE UP!’ release.”
Executive produced by Norman Lear, Shonda Rhimes and Common, the docu-series America Divided features celebrity hosts including Williams, America Ferreira, Rosario Dawson, Amy Poehler, and Zack Galifianakis investigating a wide range of social justice issues such as criminal justice, immigration, housing and voting rights, and education.
“Art is about finding your voice and using it, and in this case of this project, I think a lot of us found our inner activist and felt it was important to speak out,” he explains. “These are urgent issues and urgent times, and I’m grateful to have such an amazing group of collaborators from the Playlist Retreat to help amplify this message.”
The series also forges the foundation of Jesse’s partnership with J.PERIOD, who composed the original theme song for the show. Check out the preview above and trailer for the docu-series below.