As tensions boil in a divided America, hip-hop producer and DJ J. PERIOD
is turning to the turntable to remix the political narrative.
"The DJ crossfader is an incredibly powerful metaphor for bringing people together because rather than having everything melt into one, you have these two distinct pieces," he told CNN. "The songs on each different turntable -- and then the crossfader is an implement for finding the points of connection between those (songs)."
The producer recruited an all-star lineup of artists and performers -- including The Root's Black Thought, De La Soul's Posdnudos, Rhymefest, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Joss Stone, Eric Roberson, Maimouna Youssef and actor Jesse Williams -- to collaborate on a series of political songs to infuse the tense political narrative with a dose of positive inspiration and a message of unity.
"Right now we're being fed this narrative of divisiveness, that we are all separated and that there are people in different parts of the country that have nothing to do with one another, and that couldn't be father from the truth," J. PERIOD said.
This is the latest political statement coming from the hip-hop community as activists and artists wage an uphill battle against the Trump administration on a wide range of issues, from education and immigration to the war on drugs, police brutality and criminal justice reform.
The "Rise Up!" EP, which includes singles "Miranda" and "Rise Up," was inspired by "America Divided," an EPIX Original docu-series executive produced by Norman Lear, Shonda Rhimes and Common that examines various battles for social justice in America.
"'Rise Up!' is very necessary. Point blank. It speaks to the current political climate in this country in a way that is clear and articulate," Black Thought said in a statement. "Projects like this are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the sort of creative push back that is yet to come out of such absurdly turbulent times."
The EP will be out May 2 and will include nine other tracks.
This project directly addresses the state of race relations in America and plays on the theme of America as a melting pot to remind us that "We are Americans and as Americans, we have more in common than not," J. PERIOD said.
"Remixing is a concept that is native to hip-hop but has become sort of common lexicon in the world," J. PERIOD said. "... when we talk about remixing the narrative, we're talking about taking a familiar narrative such as the narrative of the melting pot ... and remixing that in a different way."
The producer's recent production, "The Hamilton Mixtape," debuted at No. 1 in December on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart.