I have always held a personal philosophy that everyone has a specific set of skills that they are aware of, but a large majority of people are satisfied with the way things are, leaving a lot of potential talent and action at the wayside of American society. It is rare to find someone who not only has discovered what they are really good at in life, but also for that person to have found a way to use their skills to better the lives of other people.
A few days ago a Huffington Post article from Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance appeared on my Facebook newsfeed titled New Song Explains to Obama Why He Should End the War on Marijuana”. As a young activist who has a handful of friends in the hip-hop industry I was excited to see someone actually combining their love for music with their craving for societal change here in America. “In just this one song, Prince Ea summarizes a book’s worth of information into a clear and powerful argument against marijuana prohibition”said Tony. I have seen so many artists talk the talk when it comes to using their talets for a larger social cause then becoming famous or making a ton of money, but Richard Williams (better known as Prince EA on stage) was clearly different.
I decided to reach out to Prince by dropping a quick line on his Facebook wall to see if I could get an interview, and what do you know he got back to me within 24 hours.
As a black male living in America, how has the prohibition of marijuana affected you personally?
As a black male living in America, marijuana prohibition has affected me in the same way it affects every other American. Though I do not smoke often, when I do, in the back of my mind there is always the possibility that I could be arrested. The penalties of a marijuana conviction are frightening. Additionally, the nationwide injustice regarding medical marijuana affects me vicariously through friends and family. Missouri has not legalized medicinal marijuana so a few of my family members with serious medical issues and have to resort to the underground market to find comfort from their ailments. This is troubling.
What made you want to fuse your passions for music and activism together?
At a young age I realized that hip-hop could be used as a powerful tool. Hip-hop could galvanize you to nod your head, run to the dance floor, even get into a shootout. For me, it was always about trying to positively affect my listeners. Don’t get me wrong, I have songs that touch upon the negatives, but that’s life… you have to be an “authentic” story-teller and you can’t just give people one side. However, if you look at the overarching message in my body of work, you can gather that my mission is to leave people “better” than they were before they came into contact with my material. The messages that I get from fans/supporters telling me that I have made them become better students or changed their worldview, are worth more than any label or dollar amount could give me.
Tons of people have tried garnering Obama’s attention regarding marijuana issues. What’s the game plan to get this video on Obama’s desk and how can people get involved?
I don’t want to give away the secret just yet, BUT, simply put…the game-plan to garner Obama’s attention is to make the video go viral. We want to get support from EVERYBODY in favor of the legalization of Marijuana. Through unified grassroots efforts, if we get hundreds of thousands of people poised to tweet and Facebook the president all at once, I believe we can crash networks, eventually reach the mainstream media, and in-turn reach the Oval Office. The president will be forced to take notice.
Can you tell us about the Make SMART Cool campaign?
Make Smart Cool is an organization that I founded whose purpose is to promote positive social change globally, by heralding the ideals of education, collaboration and creativity. SMART is an acronym, which stands for Sophisticating Millions and Revolutionizing Thought. We want to serve as a counterbalance to what the mainstream media is constantly feeding us. More information about MakeSmartCool can be found at MakeSmartCool.com
Do you plan on voting for President Obama?
I voted for President Obama in 2008, however he has many questions to answer before he gets my vote in 2012. Politics is deeply depressing to me. I would love to see both Obama and Romney get 0 votes. My vote and loyalty will always lie with the people, we the people must realize our untapped potential and force our politicians to make changes in OUR best interests, and not the interests of corporations.
If you could give piece of advice to young aspiring activists, what would it be?
My piece of advice to young aspiring activists would be to always be evenhanded. What that means is: it is awesome to be passionate about a certain issue, however, always look on both sides of that issue before you come to a definite conclusion about it. Sometimes our passions and convictions can blind us from the truth.