Schohreh Golian Esfahania

With all due respect to the reader, some of the language in this article is strong, but none of the language was used in malice, or meant to disrespect anyone, or any group. 

As an advocate of social entrepreneurship and critical thinking education, I was thrilled when the artist, Umi, of, P.O.W/ RBG, reached out to be concerning the, Rap Music Manifesto, amongst other issues.  Actually, let me rephrase that.  Umi, an original native of Tuskegee Alabama, who currently resides in Brooklyn New York, is more then just an artist, he is also known as an activist, public speaker, writer, leader, owner, brother, and the list goes on. Including that long list, many have grown to respect him for his stage presence, and the substance in his lyrics.  Having performed on stage with the likes of Dead Prez, The Roots, Dave Chapelle, and many others, Umi is what we consider to be a “seasoned veteran.”   So begins our interview, nothing short of substance, inspiration, confidence, and moxy, just as expected.

Saye Taryor:  As a 30 something year old veteran in the music industry, what is your overall message to the younger generation of artists who wish to pursue this business?

Umi: First and foremost, I want to shout out all the hoods through out the world, all the oppressed people struggling, trying to reclaim their legacy out here … and I want to big up you and 1up Entertainment for the opportunity, and for playing a part in helping bring real information to our younger generation.  

Saye Taryor:
  Thank you.  That’s what it’s all about family.

Umi: For those who may not know, my name is Umi, and I am the last of a dying breed.  From the beginning of my career to present date, I’ve embraced a message of empowerment.  I’ve tried to motivate my community with tactful, yet entertaining music, and to push the agenda on content that others have ignored.  For the younger cats trying to get into the music game, my advice is stay honest and true to you.  Don’t allow others to build your image, let your personal experiences do that.  I would also like to say… don’t wait around for someone to “put you on”… put yourself on!  True success comes from hard work! 

Saye Taryor:  I hear that you are looking to start working with younger artists in the near future.  Could you elaborate a little more on that?

Umi: I’m currently building up a non-profit organization called “Humble Moments” that serves as a launching platform for upcoming artist.  The organization helps talented young artists polish their craft, and gain recording, film, and business experience, as they embark on a career in the world of entertainment.  As a young artist, I often times found myself needing advice and assistance.  I would love to provide that for upcoming artist.  I hope I can inspire young cats to sharpen their content and play bigger roles in their communities, more than current artist do. 

Saye Taryor:  What are your overall perspective and outlook of the Rap Music Manifesto, and current status of the music industry?

Umi: I definitely checked out your, Rap Music Manifesto, and I was feeling it.  In my opinion, hip-hop is merely a reflection of our community.  Look around, our whole sh#t is in shambles… The dude’s look like chicks, the chicks look like dudes… we’re lost at the current moment, still searching for our identity.  I really don’t expect much from the younger artist. This is because most of their fathers, and their family structures, failed them.  N####’s is out here lost.  We have no attachment to each other.  We make no attempt to tie our flags and lives together.  Until we build up a bridge of communication, where we can all see eye to eye, and really start helping and motivating each other, don’t expect sh#t from the younger generation.  N####’s is trying to get rich, so their music is only going to fit the fold of the check writer.  It’s up to us to become the check writers, fully extend ourselves, and then we’ll expand the young artist’s content and options.

Saye Taryor:  How do you feel about the codes and philosophies of the original black panthers, in reference to today’s society?

Umi: When speaking on the Black Panthers, I could only stand at full salute.  I give them ultimate props.  For the strength, the organization, and the examples.  The Black Panthers more than inspired me, they made me active!  When you go back and revisit their, ten-point platform, all 10 points are still issues we are struggling to acquire today.  Do I think we need to go out with the gats and murder some pigs?  Well, sometimes (jokingly) … but I know that is not the answer.  The panthers were fighting the same oppressor we are fighting today, but the oppressor has revised its schemes and tactics, so we too must revise our schemes and tactics.  We have to come with an agenda that the masses of people can gravitate towards.  Back in Huey, Bunchy and Fred Hamp’s day, cats were G’s, now day’s, cats are chumps.  Besides my RBG and Outlaw riders, whom else could we depend on?  We have to gain wisdom from combining their experiences and insight, with our strategies and efforts.

Saye Taryor:  Are you familiar with the term social entrepreneurship?  What is your outlook on the concept?

Umi: Yea, I take that to mean building a business that helps benefit the community or a social problem.  I think that’s the only reason we should be doing sh#t!  In my opinion, our country is Swiss cheesed out (full of holes) because everyone is doing for self.  Our values no longer extend beyond our households, so our communities suffer.  The minority community will never know its worth until we learn to pool our resources. Practicing social change by creating or organizing a profitable venture is a dope way of offering support to a cause or community.

Saye Taryor:  Did you just say social entrepreneurship is “ a dope way of offering support to a cause or community?”  That may be my new slogan.  To move along, is there a particular business model, or individual, you pattern your business style from?

Umi: You know I never look at one thing or person for anything.  I have a tendency to take from multiple things, and add all that to the loud noises I hear in my head.  That’s with everything I’m into.  With business, it’s no different.  I find myself studying the models of corporations like Scion and Kia, to filmmakers and writers like, Spike Lee and Mario Puzo.  I learn from entertainers like Sam Cooke and Chris Rock, and I even study Obama, Oprah, and of course Gates, and the late, Jobs.  Each model offers pieces of info that I can relate to, and then adapt, to help me build my sh## up.

Saye Taryor:  Where do you see your movement, and your career, ten years from now?

Umi: Ten years … sh##, that’s right around the corner!  We’re moving in light years!  In ten years, I will be doing a number of things.  In the music game, I will be strictly in a executive position.  I will be helping to brand artist, and distributing product.  In the film industry, I want to be directing movies, and creating historical driven TV series.  And of course, I’m going to be back and forth to South America rolling up my signature brand of cigars.  Expect big things from your boy!

Saye Taryor:  How do you balance time between family and career as an artist?

Umi: Well my immediate fam is all those around me.  We balance each other.  I need real people around me to stay motivated.  I don’t have any kids yet, so my comrade’s sons and daughters are my kids!  My sister has three kids, so as far as I’m concerned, I have three kids …  sh##, my career is my family! I’m from down south, and I live in Brooklyn, so I just try to get down to Bama, and SC, any and every time I can.  That’s where my heart is ... down there with my pops, my moms, and my 2 sisters.

Saye Taryor:
  That’s real Umi.  Why don’t you go ahead and talk about the current projects you have going on.

Umi: Check for me… I got a lot of new videos that I directed and shot with my guy, Dynomite Tony.  You can see the most recent ones here: The next few records I’m dropping are all compilations… In no particular order, I have: Umi Ft. Justin Kase, Umi Ft. Duo Live, Umi and DJ Child ft. M1, and of course, a couple of surprises in the bag from RBG affiliate Mic Blaque.  It’s def going down!

Saye Taryor:  How can the reader’s track future projects?

Umi: Look for me on the Web… right now we are working on building our on line presence. Just goggle, UMIRBG, and the latest should pop up., or itunes, can be used to purchase the latest music.  Don’t be out here supporting no bullsh##.  Play your part, help spark a change, and catch me on the frontlines!  Follow Umi on Twitter and Facebook.