An interview with Chenjerai about the Real Food For Thought single and the SHIFT movement.
Former Spook member Chenjerai Kumanyika is a Penn State University graduate and current grad student using his experience in the music industry to promote a positive message through collaborations with up in coming rappers.
State in the Real: Good to see you Chenj we’ve been trying to get you here for a while to talk about your projects.
Chenjerai: Great to be here. I love what ya’ll have been doing with the site. I’m working on so many projects right now but I had to stop through real quick to do talk about this one because its getting so much attention now.
State In the Real: So Real Food For Thought is a blazing hot song with a positive message and positive movement behind it? First things first. How can people help support the movement?
Chenjerai:Thanks for asking. People can do three easy things. First of all you can keep up with craziness in my zone @catchatweetdown but for SHIFT
1.Go visit the youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOrwAFa_o9U. Make sure you like the Youtube page if you like the song.
2. Go visit the SHIFTDemand Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SHIFTDemand
3. Encourage other folks to take those same steps especially young people in your life.
State in the Real: What inspired you to produce and co-write it?
Chenjerai: We’ve been getting an amazing reaction from the song in a very short amount of time and its a really inspiring story. I was approached by some African American teens from Philly who had something to say about the food marketing targeted at them. and the food environments in their neighborhoods. Since they know that I know a lot about the music game, they asked me if I could help them make song and promote it.
State in the Real: What did you think about that?
Chenjerai: I respected their energy and I really liked the fact that they were informed and active. But at first I was skeptical if a song with a topic like that could get widespread attention. It’s seems like there’s kind of a law these days that music can’t really about anything that’s good for you. That’s why all the positive reaction to the song is
State in the Real: So how did they convince you?
Chenjerai: Well they were persistent and I liked that. You know how it is. If you grow up in certain neighborhoods its a lot easier to get something unhealthy than it is to get something good for you. You might be hiking for a minute to get like some fresh fruit or something. Meanwhile more and more black teens are getting diabetes. So I felt like If I can’t use my skills for something positive, then what am I really doing this for?
State in the Real: so how did Zieme get involved?
Chenjerai : So once I agreed to do it I knew I had to make it extra hot to make people feel it. Zieme was like the hottest young singer out here. He’s actually starting to blow right now in NY and I knew that I needed to get him on board now. We got together brainstormed and came up with a hot concept.
State in the Real: What is the concept?
Chenjerai: Well its the whole idea of everything being taken away from what they should have been. Almost all the food we eat is an imitation of real food and certain people are making money off it. Its’ not just black people but also brown people and poor people are facing the worse effects.
State in the Real: It’s cool that you are getting mainstream artists involved. Is it hard to convince them?
Chenjerai: Not really. What I see is that artists want to do something different. Of course some artists don’t have the range. They are like one trick ponies. But Zieme has a lot of range. And of course with my group Spooks we had to appeal to Europe and Africa and our whole international fan base. Basically artists who have the range welcome the opportunity to use it for something good.
State in the Real: So what’s else is coming up?
Chenjerai: Well were looking at getting the videos together and I’m real amped right now because we got Jasiri X to do the next SHIFT song. He’s exploding on the national stage right now because of the way that he flipped the No Church in The Wild joint to talk the Trayvon Martin situation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKaJoEyYXyI.
Other than that I’m looking forward to talking to State in the Real soon when I finish this epic mixtape project.
State in the Real: Thanks for coming by and keep up the good work!
Chenjerai: No doubt. Right back at you. One.
The SHIFT campaign is a youth-led campaign.