Tuesday, June 23, 2015

U.S. - Interview with BetterPropaganda.com (2005)

Uzi is the man behind U.S.
and Reality Check Records. He's a man on a mission, hip hop is his
calling, and he's got lots to say. His track "Get it Hotta" was our
weekly propaganda song of the week, and after a bunch of phone calls to
Brooklyn, we decided to do an interview proper for your reading pleasure
here at betterPropaganda. Follows is a transcript of a telephone
conversation with the remarkably earnest Uzi in Brooklyn, which goes
down in a rambling streetwise stream of consciousness.

Better Propaganda Editor Terbo Ted talks to Uzi aka U.S. 

betterPropaganda: Normally at the top of an interview I ask an artist to define themselves. So, what is U.S.? 

Uzi: U.S. is a lot of things. I mean I'll tell how it started.
I was smokin' an L and I was thinking of water which is the universal
solvent, its known as cuz anything can be dissolved in it. So then I
flipped it, the Universal Solution. It's also Under Surveillance,
Unusually Sexy, Usually Single, the Unabomber Suspect of course. 

bP: Let's talk about your new album. The Necessary Evil
on Reality Check Records has a picture of the Unabomber on the cover and
on the back you have him sitting in the Oval Office. What was the
inspiration behind that? And how's the album doing for you?

U: Well it's well, thank you. Just doing the indie come up ...
you know ... strong truth ... inject new shit .... entrepreneurial
energy into music ... its beautiful. It's actually a portrait of me.
So what's fresh about it is it's a many tiered thing. There's the sense
of the necessary evil and just thinking of Kaczynski's life and the
choices he made. I mean he was a fuckin' nut! But he was really ...
besides being on some neo luddite shit he was really taking it to big
man on campus on some real shit which is hot! Gangsta! And on the back
cover its funny cuz its just him sitting there which is sort of to say
that these are the kind of principal people we need in these office
spaces ... people willing to what needs to be done ... but its also a
commentary on our present situation ... and in a way that that attitude
... that approach what put us in the position we are in now where we
have a terrorist for a president ... you know? 

bP: Maybe you can elaborate on that. How would build the case that the current president is a terrorist?

U: Well, I just think that in the very human sense of believing
your ideas are so right that you're gonna force them on people. But
its complicated in our situation cuz its such a deeply ingrained way of
relating that we have as a species ... to constantly deal in war ... you
know what I mean? But at the same time its something that has to give
way already ... its been thousands of years that we've been doing this
... and we really just need to kick it up another octave at this point
... it's the idea of thinking you're righter than someone else and
that's really where it connects ...and that's what any terrorist does
regardless of what they're doing is they are using fear and might and
death and all the evils of this physical plane to normalize to conform
to take away the freedom of others ... it's a power-over thing ... it's
the classic psychological shit ... and its our disconnect from a sense
of respect ... from a sense of really understanding that we all come
from the same place ... that we are all in the same boat ... well the
boat is the Goddamn planet! We have this blind spot to ourselves in a
way ... its really kept us from coming together ... everybody who's on
this boat should get food ... everybody who's on this boat should get a
shot at being happy ... and with all the science and all the technology
... no one knows how we got here! It's a humbling thing ... it's a very
humanizing thing that we would have to bear witness to it!

bP: So one thing I've learned studying you and your body of
work is that you are someone that goes on a spiritual mission. You've
somehow taken these transformational/meditational journeys and you've
come up with this great purpose. And you've talked about all these
human issues and you're very comfortable talking with politics. How did
you get to that place? You're from Brooklyn you don't think of someone
from Brooklyn talking bout spiritual matters necessarily.

U: It's crazy. I know. I really would say I was raised
religious ... with the bible and church and everything ... and that kind
of stuff ...I guess I was just one of those kids ... I just took them
at their word ... and my folks are about that ... Its really just who I
am ... I mean I was raised that it was important to be a good person ...
and I have to give them credit ... I really do ... and I just really
seen it as the way ... I've seen the way of materialism ... I mean we
can make the choices we want ... I mean we all have that right ... I
mean we all come from the same place ... so we all have to have that
freedom ... to me I feel like I've been lucky to be 'forced' to really
examine myself and to really care ...

bP: One thing that strikes me about your work is that its very
natural sounding; your music's seems very earnest and real. When I
listen to your tunes I have a feeling it's you; there's not all these
extra layers of production. It seems you've gotten to a point with your
work where you're in a situation of total freedom. Are you aware of
that as you go about your day and your work?

U: Yeah. I try to be direct. I do my best. We have a great
opportunity with music. We can model ways of living with it. Even in
the structure in the sound. It's how I am. It's really right down the
middle. I mean I adlib on maybe half of my tracks. And adlibs are
beautiful especially in hip hop cuz it really deepens the perspective. I
mean when there's like three people standing in one song ... theres the
guy doing the rap and theres the guy doing the reaction ... because I
pay so much attention to the words and to the message and to the verses
sometimes I like to let the be there and just let them go with the beat
... and I've been really really lucky with production ... like the dudes
I know are phenomenal ... and so many of those beats ... on the new
record or any record I've ever done and hopefully will ever do ... the
production ... the beats themselves already have a story ... which makes
my job really easy ... cuz you hear melodies in it ... you hear a song
... you hear an emotion ... you hear a chord ... there's already a
place its heading ... you're just going with it ... you're flowing with
it ... and you're resolving it ... you're equating it ...

bP: Do you have any history or experience in doing open mic
free poetry? That seems like something you would probably really good

U: Yeah. What it is ... I'm a shy dude ... and a snob ... I
really think a lot of my work ... I got some shit to say ... this is a
gift ... when you take it to a professional level ... you start to
encounter a lot of situation where you can do free shows forever ... I
mean there are a lot of culture vultures in New York man ... in hip hop
period ... I mean we know how these contractors happened ... and this is
before hip hop ... I mean you know all those old dudes ... none of them
is seeing publishing ... I mean there is an endless amount of promoters
who will let me rock free and open a show for the rest of my fuckin'

bP: You're playing a big show tonight aren't you? 

U: Yeah. It's gonna be a great show. Its at Don Hills in New York in the Ville.

bP: I got something to drop on you that I haven't bothered to
mention because I was just enjoying just hearing you talk about things.
We sent you out today as our song of the week. That went out on our
full emailing list just today.

U: Thank you. Thank you. That's really cool man. That song
is really fresh man. I mean you dug it ... it's a conversation ... the
first verse is a short thing ... its eight bars ... and then the second
verse is an older man speaking ... he comes in on bar four ... and he
starts talking about what he sees things through the eyes of someone who
has lived through the civil rights movement ... seen people really
stand up and change the way things happened ... to look at the kids we
got now ... and to see us running around ... keeping our faces shiny ...
trying to make the most money we can ... and eat as much as we can ... I
can see where he's coming from in the second verse ... he's saying 'I
seen Malcom talk ... what the fuck?! what happened?!' ... so the young
man responds 'I hear ol' tima/fuck cutting off bush we need a whole new
vagina' ...change the whole muthafucka ... you know? ... 'but I've seen
our youth/knee deep in the truth/that mean to uproot/what our evil thumb
grew' ... what I'm saying with the evil thumb ... the evil thumb ...
its not even someone out there ... its our own fucking evil thumb that
did it ... I mean its subtle but that's what I'm trying to say ...

bP: The very beginning of our conversation you mentioned
independent music. If you look at your publicity photos that went out
with your album you're standing in front of a wall of posters in a hoody
and you're standing next to a Ted Leo and the Pharmacists poster and a Metric poster. Those are indie rock bands right now ... is that something you pay attention to?


U: You know I listen to a lot of old music ... I don't keep up
exceptionally well with the current scene ... I have heard those names
though ... and I think its very hilarious ... I definitely know that Ted
Leo and the Pharmacists are very very big up coming indie new band ... I
know they've been nominated for awards for indie records ... I mean
Krs-One is also in that picture ... I mean that's an amazing picture to
me ... just because the things that caught behind it are like real in
the way that that's the flood lights and I'm the lamp ... I mean I know
there are people who put in work and continue to put in work ... and
that really feeds me and really helps me stand up straighter to know
that it happens ... that it still happens ... even in this day and age
... that people respond ... that people are looking for music ... being
in New York you get a unique sense of things cuz of how top down the
city is with hip hop ... radio stations ... its the pay-ola ... it the
people who make the scene ... and pop the bottles that get listened to
... and that's what's respected in New York ... its only affluence ...
and it's a very real thing ... that some people can only respect
affluence ... and that's why really more than anything ... besides to be
solvent and to feed my mouth ... and take care of myself and not have
to be fucking asking for handouts ... it shows and proves God ...
because there are people out there that are looking for a way or being
influenced by the world ... there are people who influence the world and
people who are influenced by the world ... we gotta get our octaves up
... we gotta show and prove that ... that's the challenge I take upon
myself ... to make this righteous shit hot ... because its so difficult
to say some real shit or have a message on your shit and have that shit
be listenable.

bP: So lets talk about 2005. What are we gonna see from U.S.(Uzi) in 2005? 

U: Generally, just so you know ... most people say U-Zee
(you-z)... that's cool that you say Uzi (oozee) ... 2005 I look to be
touring a little after Memorial Day ... doing a swing around the country
... I'm headed out to Cali at the end of April ... early May ... last
week of April I'm gonna be down there ... I'm just gonna be making
records ... the next one I got is 'I Got Fresh Ideas' ... the cover of
it is me sitting on the floor and there's this Amazonian type woman ...
tall woman ... standing over me like in a mini skirt ... and I'm looking
up her skirt ... 'I Got Fresh Ideas' ... and it's a love record ...
I've also taken upon myself this whole business side ... just really in
2005 I'm gonna be meeting a lot of people ... that's what I really see
... just having conversations ... I'm gonna be adding my voice to the
world in a great deal ... another thing is with independent records ...
like if you make a major label record ... you got three weeks of mass
marketing where they flood everything ...and if the shit hits or not ...
its just over ... its done ... especially since most of them don't hit
its over ... you get an ad for one month in the Source or XXL and then
its done ... with an indie record ... and since no one knows who the
fuck I am I have the whole year optimally to build noise ... I have
reviews that are coming out in May or June ... because I'm a small time
dude ... its not a priority ... I just flow with it ... cuz I'm not
trying to take shortcuts with it ... I'm seeing man ... the things you
put in work for they really pay off and then really have them ... you
really wear them ... the experience ... its in your feet ... its in your
hands ... its in your way ... its in everything ... I just look forward
to work of adding my voice to the world ...which is such a challenge in
this day and age ... to say the kind of things I talk about and not get
shutdown and shouted over ... and that's a great deal why 'The
Necessary Evil' is the way it is ... that's the shout part ... but you
know that's not the whole thing that's just part of it ... I got a big
dick I like to put in mommies and that is a very important thing that
needs to be respected and spoken about and so that's the next record... 

U.S. Interview at betterPropaganda.com

Thursday, April 30, 2015


  This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I cannot be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the national Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it.

I will venture to add that to me the Convention mode seems preferable.

- President Abraham Lincoln, March 4 1861

Structures which do not allow equal access to opportunity must change. The Americans with Disabilities Act and Brown v.  Kansas Board of Education are examples.

Over 50 years have passed since The March on Washington. Statistics

Over 70 years have passed since the 1941 speech by President Roosevelt crystallizing hard earned lessons from the Depression into a document detailing 4 Essential Freedoms, and the 1944 address turning Americans toward a new vision of the state as a protector of the progress by, for and of all the people Lady Liberty called. Statistics

Over 150 years have passed since a new president's first act was a call for conversation in a climate of war. President Abraham Lincoln saw American families raising Constitutional conventioneers - not soldiers. Statistics

An American President recommended the convening of a Constitutional Convention. In 1861. He thought it was a better way.

So do I. 

Friends: I count at least 3 American dreams there.

What are yours?

Monday, April 20, 2015


I have read -

but sadly not heard -

of a debate on the validity, viability or realisticness of the 17

If you were to think of what Americans, and humans, and wom*n, and children - would all agree on and hope for -

 And if you are a member of, or identify with another national group -

Please think of us.

And, yes

please include us.

a genuine meditation on their consensus would produce a list virtually indistinguishable.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Puertorican Shower

Let me set some political matters to rest. I have been vocal all over this country and world all my life speaking out about the need for equity and togetherness to be practice and practiced here and abroad. Our current state of affairs is heartbreaking and incredible. National numbers were not available - but there were 26 reported rapes in my hometown of New York City from March 30 to April 5 of 2015 - the week of my 35th birthday. I spent my birthday - April 2 - living as a homeless American with some college education (including time on the Dean's List) in San Francisco, CA.

On this blog, you'll find a letter I wrote to President Barack H. Obama in 2007, shortly after his candidacy was announced. I have yet to hear back formally. I would like to meet with President Obama to speak honestly about my life experience as an American, and to clear myself - with him - about actions I have taken which I engaged in knowing that....


With a 1st-time black President, as a homeless diagnosed-mentally-ill person, framed for a domestic violence felony toward a married woman in a world where the San Antonio Spurs won national championships thru their members displaying humility and respect for authority, when undermining a group's leader could negatively impact the effectiveness of his leadership and the efficiency and health of the group, beyond my ability to grow or thrive in the capitalistic framework-   )

I really felt a genuine need to speak with him when I wrote. And when I called his campaign number in 2007 after writing it. Or when I wrote him after the Iraq war reauthorization vote shortly after his election as US Senator, when I chided him for his "Yea" vote.

I believe we can put an end to larceny by ending poverty.

I believe we can end rape. I believe it is an inconceivable and even an unthinkable act. I believe it becomes unthinkable - and thus STOPPED as a practice - by proper education.

I believe we should be preparing ourselves - and our children - educationally and foundationally to call a new Constitutional convention.

I believe this because by creating a country with foundational laws that saw inequality based on skin color as true, they dated the document.

I printed out a form  to meditate on filling it out to be a candidate for U.S. President.

I do not think batterers are leaders, nor should they lead.

I am not a batterer.

I believe whatever coalition Code Pink is building will win the 2016 election, because I believe it (with the limited knowledge I do have of their work) is a banner under which people are growing together, including others and leading with their hearts to cut ties with our poison past, and build bridges that last.

I believe there are MANY capable Americans for the job. Honestly.

Professionally, I have never been signed to a major record label or entertainment company - though I certainly consider myself the best at what I do. I would rather pursue that avenue for myself and my advocacy and my family and my sanity and MY health.

I do not think you can move forward by trouncing on your past- or predecessor, in politics. The actions I took which I wish to discuss with the President likely disqualify me. I have also called federal sex slave hotlines and written the NSA asking for information about my life and warning them of technological devices I believed were in my body (and a possible threat to national security),

and have never heard back. I am also currently on SSI - Disability, labeled (diagnosed) with schizophrenia despite evidence I have been operated on - and never informed. These operations have been performed on me since I was - at the oldest -

12 years old.

That, too, in this world, may disqualify me from serving in that role.

I am writing this on the darpa.mil-created Internet, nearly 15 years after the enactment of the PATRIOT Act. I am writing from San Francisco, California. Zip code 94110.

I would run. I could do it. I would do it. I rap. I smoke cannabis. It's a growth industry.

There doesn't have to be rape. There doesn't.

There doesn't.

There doesn't.

We can.

We have to stop the head games and get to work. There are SO many jobs we have to invent - it can really be a whole bunch of fun being American in America in THIS world. The same one Iran n North Korea n the Devil itself is in.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sike You!

As I sit to write this, I have to acknowledge how impossible it is to reduce my life, or any life, to a string of sentences, syllables or letters. Scientists worldwide are working to decipher the genetic code of Earth’s creatures, the sequences that are part of who we are.

But I’m from Brooklyn. East New York, to be exact. For a few years in the last millennium, my hometown was the murder capital of these United States. So I know that nature tells only half the story. The age-old battle of thinkers has been that of nature versus nurture. I know, from personal experience, that this argument needs to become a civil dialogue – that of nature and nurture.

I am inseparable from my community, and in fact, from all poor communities on this planet. The violence, the addictions, the abuses that are permitted to exist among us, perpetrated upon human beings, marry us all to suffering. It is my need to see that sort of suffering end which moves me to apply to The School of General Studies.

I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness. My parents were, and are, extremely committed to justice for all people. I do not consider it a stretch to say that so is God. The faith in which I was raised teaches that true peace only comes through honoring God, and through the brotherhood of all people. The American Constitution talks about the same ideal.

From a young age, I walked the streets of Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant preaching the good news. We were often ridiculed, ignored or insulted. But that was life. I didn’t always understand why I couldn’t celebrate birthdays, or pledge allegiance to the American flag, with my classmates. I suppose I accepted it on faith.

I didn’t understand a lot. When my mother went to enroll me at our local school, she was told I was “too smart” to attend there (What does that mean?). As a result, I started Pre-Kindergarten in Flatbush. Later, I was bussed to South Ozone Park to complete my primary education, starting from first grade.

There were very few children as light-skinned as me (hunh) in The Osmond A. Church School. After second grade, there was maybe one white kid, so I guess I served as a stunt double. My older brother had to beat up a few kids for calling me white boy, but he had his own education to pursue.

After starting at Hunter High School, I saw the reverse process take place. After two years, there were less and less people of color among my class. I also noticed that African, Latin American and Asian history were given short shrift in the curriculum. Often, we had to cram hundreds or thousands of years of noble history into just a few weeks.

Many of my classmates went on to attend some of the most prestigious institutions of higher education we have. I got a job at a securities firm in midtown Manhattan. There, I got valuable experience by observing my colleagues and New York City at work. My employer called me the Vice President of Acquisitions. See, I would acquire Burger King or office supplies at Duane Reade – things of that nature.

I also lost and found my faith in God. A newly minted atheist, I was walking east on 87th Street smoking weed. A young lady named Iva asked to help. She recommended a book called Be Here Now by a man who was known as Richard Alpert, and came to be Baba Ram Dass.

I was back.

I decided I needed an education. I chose SUNY-Geneseo because no one I knew from high school went there. Also - it was cheap!

Also, I had had my first run-in with the law. It left me rather nonplused.

Geneseo was not the place for me. I liked Art History, and enjoyed the day in English class we spent on the poetry of Phil Rizzuto. Most of my time, though, was spent writing raps. By the time May 1999 rolled around, I had one rhyme that had me convinced I could do it professionally. I returned to New York, and told my parents I was going to be an emcee.

They were overjoyed.

In October of that year, I was invited to a spirit camp being held by a council of men in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. I’d read Robert Bly’s Iron John in ’98. The smell of sage, the Berkshires, and the rituals of the indigenous American people were revelations. That weekend was the first time I’d ever wept and felt the tears weren’t my own. I sat for a sweat. I called a rock Grandfather. I listened and learned.

I kept working on my craft. In January 2001, I got a desk job in the stockroom of Brooklyn Public Library. Often, people would bequeath their personal libraries. The collections of knowledge would sit on the loading dock until they could take no more rain. Luckily, I smoked cigarettes.

Late that summer, I was beginning my day when one of my colleagues told me a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. Soon, it was two planes and another at the Pentagon. I was 21. That day, I walked up Eastern Parkway to Utica Avenue and had a rare beer. It wasn’t even 11 o’clock.

My colleagues were very angry. This was my first experience as an adult in how pain can create more. I got the e-mails about the airline puts, about the funding our government had given the bin Ladin family, and shared this information. We would argue about it. Bombs dropped on Afghanistan.

I needed an education again. I’d heard of a school called Naropa in Boulder, Colorado. I was considering applying. In early March, I heard a voice in my head (I won’t explain it any other way than that) say 22 was a master number, and I could no longer be working for the library on my birthday (April 2).

Inside of a week – tops – I submitted a letter of resignation. I decided I would check Boulder and Naropa out before I applied. I did the dog, meaning I took Greyhound. It was a magical trip.

When I got back, another emcee and I started rapping on the trains we’d grown up on. Our first day, we made a hundred bucks in mostly change, and were detained for a couple of hours in a Broadway Junction holding cell – so we knew we were doing something right!

That summer, I went on my first fast. Honestly, a looming insanity drove me to The School of Lost Borders, founded by Steven Foster and Meredith Little. I flew into Reno, Nevada… but I needed to get to Big Pine, California. The next day, I hitchhiked for the first time in my life, and went straight down 495 from Carson City. I was the old man on a youth fast, 22 now, and seeking to claim my manhood.

The next year, I fasted again with The School. I had been reading Jung, where he spoke of the anima in every man, and declared my intent to wed my inner Self. Her name: Miss Teri. I married the misstery.

That same year, I started an affair with a married woman.

Well, a second affair with another married woman, anyway.

It was the fallout from this decision that awoke me to the true state of affairs in our present day American society. I’d read about how crack cocaine, Vietnam, counter-intelligence and assassinations were used to destroy the communities of color demanding social equality in the 60’s and 70’s. I did not know the preservation of inequality remained an objective of some of our species. Or, anyway, that a Nuyorican preacher’s kid could be a target of such a cowardly agenda.

Early this summer, I wrote an open letter to one of the presidential candidates. As a result of that decision, I now see that “the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together”, and that “these are the triple evils that are interrelated.”

Those are quotes from another preacher’s kid. His name is Martin.

My decision to pursue the Human Rights major at Columbia is directly related to seeking solutions to those problems, which still confront us today. Seeing justice in practice is all that can possibly give my life meaning in this 2007 we must share.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

An Open Letter to barack Obama

You wanna be President?



Take 15 mil from that 25 or whatever you got now -

no commercials! (you tube!)

Use it to build houses

in New Orleans.

Find the people. Hit the books.
Primary residences.Long term
owners, especially those
that span both big sisters -
Camille? Betsy?

Elderly. Those with children 7 years
or under - those born in the wake and
those who were in that hyperformative stage
Tolstoy wrote of.

Action affirming the Great Idea
Dont let no one else administer.
You, Barack, be the
head of household
named New Orleans. Give it ALL you got!

You won't need to travel: set up shop.

DO NOT BE AFRAID: It is against My will
for harm to come
to any more of the
children who love me.

We the living dream
miss the chance to love ourself.

Get 2 or 3 companies (biggies, djia joints)
to open factories, to
birth plants from their
American richness.

Your family's needs must be met.

NO sweetheart deals,
NO weapons companies.

Better tobacco than guns.

Why, they should
RUN to my feet in
My Righteous Slumber!
still dreaming the dream!
still on the job!

and with undue alacrity
tend with love
any wounds to oneness.

That I may not be roused

by the perverse ingratitude of it all.

My own body unwilling to heal.

Or running myself a bath to kick out the stopper.

Put your nose to that touchstone.
You'll pick it up President.

I'd appreciate it. I'm sleeping here.

truly yours - the american dream