Crateworthy: How did you get your name?
Marcel P. Black: I went thru a lot of other names before I got to this. I was with this label/group, and my names was Jess E. James the Outlaw, then I learned that Jesse James fought for the Confederate Army, and I ain’t like that. Next I went by just Outlaw, but when I left the group, I couldn’t really keep the name. Before I left, I put out a solo mixtape under the name Phuryus Styles (named after Laurence Fishburne’s character on “Boyz N The Hood”), and my a.k.a was Marcel P. Black. Phuryus was too hard for people to pronounce, so I just stuck with Marcel P. Black. Marcel is my middle name, P. is for power, prophet, proletariat, & the people, and Black is for my people.
Crateworthy: Where are you from? How has that influenced you?
Marcel P. Black: I’m from Ardmore, Ok originally, but I’ve lived in Baton Rouge, La for nearly 10 years. Coming from Oklahoma, we didn’t necessarily have our own identifiable sound as it pertains to Hip-Hop, so I grew up liking everything. OK, is south of the Mason Dixon, west of the Mississippi River, but located in the middle of the country, so our foods, culture, dialects, accents, etc. is a mashup of southern and Midwestern ways of life. For those who don’t know, a lot of L.A. gangbangers migrated to places like Omaha, St. Louis, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, etc. to set up shop with the expansion of crack cocaine in the late 80’s/early 90’s, my hometown of 30,000 people included. We’ve been bangin tough since like ’91. I remember when Quik, Ice T, & I wanna say H-Town came to our small town on a tour date, only to have the show end in a huge gang fight. Growing up around this, & at the same time, growing up in family heavy in the church & the community gave me a unique perspective as it relates to the streets on both sides of the coin. I understand both why & how people in poverty live how they live. I understand the mindset, as well as the conditions that turn victims into villains.
After graduating high school, I went left my hometown to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge, La, and I’ve been here since fall of 2002. I been began working with youth in the community in Oklahoma, and continued working in Baton Rouge youth as I pursued my bachelors in History. I’ve worked in charter schools, ran a non profit after school Hip-Hop University, after school programs, mentored teenage boys, and I’m currently employed at an alternative school for court appointed teens who can’t attend public schools. Again, my life experiences on both sides of the coin enable me to be able to speak to/with these young people in a manner than many have trouble doing so. Seeing the poverty and failing education system that begets the violence, high Aids rate, prison industrial complex, etc. first hand definitely plays a major part in my music, as well as my work in the community.
Crateworthy: What was your first introduction to Hip Hop?
Marcel P. Black: My first introduction was in ’88 when I thought my big cousin Meche was LL Cool J. He looked just like him back then, and I thought he was the one in the “I’m Bad” video. He taught me the words to “I’m Bad” & “My Rhyme Ain’t Done” respectively, and I’ve been in love with Hip-Hop since I was 5.
Crateworthy: When did you start Emceeing?
Marcel P. Black: Like most emcees, I began writing my li’l raps in elementary, and began doing performance poetry in middle school. I combined both and started really rhyming, hopping in cyphers, recording and the like, like in 10th grade. In like ‘98/’99.
Crateworthy: How many projects do you have out to date, and Where can we find them?
Marcel P. Black: I have 4 solo projects. “The Only Child” in ’08, “Jigga City Blues EP” in ’10, “1Luv: A Hate Story EP” & “Black Soul” in 2011. You can download my whole discography @ marcelpblack.bandcamp.com
Crateworthy: What's the new release titled you've been working on? How is it different from other releases you've put out?
Marcel P. Black: I’m actually working on like 6 projects at this time. The next release will be “1rst Born”, the prequel to “The Only Child.” Basically, I was writing for this project with a BR native producer who currently lives in Houston called “The Black Knight Experiment”. I was like 22/23 years old, and this was the first project I was to release since I left my label/group, so I was real depressed, angry, & hurt. I had began drinking around this time, and really tryinna find my way as an emcee and as a man. Anyways, the recording sessions for the project weren’t too hot, so I didn’t complete the project, but a few songs made my first release, “The Only Child”. A few weeks ago, I was looking thru my gmail, and I saw I still had the beats and lyrics, and I started putting them together, and saw that they were still pretty good. It was amazing to see my mindset at the time, and I think it tells apart of my story that a lot of my fans may not know yet. So the “1rst Born” is basically a prequel to “The Only Child”, what was supposed to be my first look in Hip-Hop. This project will be me at 28, a father, college graduate, husband, community worker, rhyming my life when I was still in college, dealing with depression, drinking, partying, and tryinna find my way. It’s different because it’s very personal, not really “pro black” at all.
Crateworthy: How many projects are you currently working on? would you care to elaborate on them…
Marcel P. Black: I’m currently working on 6 projects. I just told you about “1rst Born”. I’m working on the follow up to “1Luv: A Hate Story EP” titled “iLuv H.E.R. Too”, produced entirely by the same producer, J-Filly, from Chicago. It’s basically continues in the vein of my love for Hip-Hop & emceeing, and my influences. It’s heavily inspired by Common.
Next is “#CivilDisobedience”, produced entirely by That Purple Bastard from Houston. I just released “I’m Mad”, a tribute to all memories to all the Trayvon’s of the world, from that project. The whole project is what I call “proletariat protest music”, straight up PE “Fight The Power” music.
Then there’s “When The Music Stops” produced by KutKre@or from New Orleans. This project is hardbody karate, and deals with the real issues that we face as a Hip-Hop nation when the music stops.
There’s “The Power of Street Knowledge” produced by Prospek outta New Orleans. It’s based around the life of Bunchy Carter, a dude who was a straight up gangster turned Black Panther leader. Real RBG music.
And most importantly, my album, “By Any Means”, produced by Joe on The Track from Baton Rouge. This project is influenced by Malcolm, and is conscious rap with a southern hardcore edge. Lots of soul samples and 808’s. I’ve been workin on it for 4 years, and it will come out this fall.
Crateworthy: Let's switch gears for a moment, Tell us a little something about your previous release Black Soul.
Marcel P. Black: Black Soul” is acronym for “Building Love And Community Kinship Speaking Our Universal Language”. It’s an ode to African spirituality & the African tradition, as well as 90’s boom bap Hip-Hop. I wrote 5 of the 7 songs at 4 am. My friend told me it was God talking to me.
Crateworthy: What exactly were you trying to say on Black President?
Marcel P. Black: It’s funny you asked that, because I caught a lot of flack for that song by people who didn’t really listen to it because they felt I dissed Barrack. No, I was just holding him accountable. The song is about me asking myself, “Now that we have a Black President, is shit really different in the hood?” My answer was no. And if you listen, I didn’t just put all the blame on Obama, I blame us as well. We are gonna have to be our own politicians, since the government doesn’t care. Barrack is prolly one of the greatest Black men to walk this earth, but he’s not Jesus. Shit won’t change until we change it ourselves.
Crateworthy: Your music has a positive vibe to it? whats that about? Do you listen to the radio at all? What's different from the music you release and whats mainstream?
Marcel P. Black: My music is a reflection of who I am as a man. I try to lead an positive lifestyle, so I’d be a liar to rap like I’m a headbussin dope kingpin. I really don’t listen to radio, because for one, I have small kids, and I don’t wanna poison them, and two, the music is not really good. I like to read and enjoy autobiographies and watch documentaries. A good Hip-Hop record for me is one that appeals to my intellect. The music on the radio does not for the most part.
As far as the whole “mainstream” thing, I feel like my music is more relatable to the everyday people going thru the struggle than what a Li’l Wayne or Rick Ross makes. That’s what mainstream is supposed to be. But to answer your question, my music is different because it 100% me, & absolutely has no influenced by corporate controlled mass media that takes cues from right wing capitalists/government.
Crateworthy: Do you feel being a father has changed what you release or listen too?
Marcel P. Black: It makes me work harder as an artist/businessman. As far as what I listen to, having a daughter, and being a husband to a beautiful wife, my respect for women is at an all time high. I never really listened to super misogynist music, but I definitely try to avoid it at all costs. And having a son, I don’t want him to even get close to the mentality that exists in corporate controlled mass media disseminated rap. So now, in my car with my kids, it’s jazz music or NPR.
Crateworthy: I Notice your from the South however your music is different from most Southern Artist I've heard.
Marcel P. Black: I’ma southerner who tells my story thru Hip-Hop in the veins of Goodie Mob. Not too much different, it’s just that the industry won’t let our stories be heard like they used too.
Crateworthy: I've heard you were signed to a Label and in a group? How is it different now being a solo artist?
Marcel P. Black: It’s different because I do EVERYTHING by myself. No help. Just hard work.
Crateworthy: After leaving the group is that when you formed Maroon Music? and how did that come about?
Marcel P. Black: I left my label/group February ’07, and began Maroon Music in June ’07. I left for a myriad of reasons. It gets pretty personal, so I’ll just say this… Me and a group member who was my childhood friend in Oklahoma fell out over something that I still don’t understand till this day. The label basically took his side, because he was the “moneymaker” in the equation, even though he was in the wrong. I say this because even he acknowledges it. Some paperwork needed to be signed in order for us to move forward in our careers, and I said that I wasn’t signing shit until me & him resolve our issues, but he refused to talk to me, and they signed the contract and began working without me, without telling me. I called it quits when I found out what happened. That shit broke my heart. 5 years later, I’m further than I was when I had all the time & resources in the world, and I’m blessed for stay in school, starting a family, and working in the community. Maroon Music is all me, and I love me being my own boss.
Interviewer: Ed Mello