My name is Leroy Franklin Moore Jr. I was born in New York in 1967 and was born with a physical disability (cerebral palsy). Being both Black and disabled, I’ve always had questions about race and disability.
I grew up in an activist family and became active in issues that faced my Black and disabled communities. At an early age I realized that both of my communities, Black and disabled, did not recognize each other and because of this fact I continued to search for some kind of balance with my two identities.
In school I found out that very few professors or students knew about Black disabled people in history -- from slavery, to the music industry, to activism. Outside of the educational system and my communities, I started to educate myself on the rich history of Black disabled people.
Because my father was into Black music, I started my research on Black disabled people in music and found out that most of the early blues artists were Black and blind or had other types of disabilities that forced them to make a living from singing on street corners all over the South and North: artists like Cripple Clarence Lofton who had polio but used to dance and was known as one of the creators of boogie-woogie piano.
A lot of these Black disabled musicians didn’t get their dues and were discriminated against. The story of Cortelia Clark, who was a blind blues singer, singing on the streets of Nashville, is one of many true stories of Black blind/disabled artists in the early stages of the development of the music industry. Although Clark won a Grammy for his 1967 song, the appropriately titled "Blues in the Streets," he couldn’t attend the ceremony because he couldn’t afford to buy a ticket. The following day he was back on the streets trying to earn money to pay rent.
This new history I discovered led to my trip to London, England, where I accidentally tripped over what they called a "Black Disabled Movement" where disabled people of color decided to organize and form their own organizations because of racism. At the same time I was testing out my poetry on stage in London.
I returned to California with a new goal in mind, to blend my activism and arts with my interested in race and disability. First was an organization, called Disabled Advocates of Minorities Organization and its arts arm, New Voices: Disabled Poet & Artists of Color. These organizations lasted about five years.
As time passed by, my interest and research on music, race and disability grew and I joined Poor Magazine to write a column titled Illin-N-Chillin that gave me another avenue to write about disabled musicians. I also joined a radio collective at KPFA Berkeley. The radio show Pushing Limits was about disability issues. My music library was exploding with disabled musicians, especially blues artists.
Being raised in New York, I was into Hip-Hop when it first hit the scene with the Sugarhill Gang, Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Mele Mel to name but a few. I also saw battles on the streets of Brooklyn with all types of artists of both genders, including artists on crutches and in wheelchairs. In 2006 I came up with an idea for a radio series on Hip-Hop artists with disabilities. The co-producer, Safi Wa Nairobi, and I invited a handful of Hip-Hop artists with all types of disabilities. We had DJ Quad from LA, the first deaf hip-hop group from D.C., The Helix Boyz, and Preechman, the first Hip-Hop artist on crutches from New York. When the series was over, I wanted more, so I put out a call to put out a mixtape of disabled Hip-Hop artists over the internet. Volume one of Krip-Hop Mixtape happened through the Internet.
The Internet call brought international stories from as far as Africa, UK, Italy, and Sweden. Stories of disabled hip-hop artists being rejected by agents, radio stations, and Hip-Hop magazines because of their disabilities filled my email box. These stories reminded me of blues artists who were blind and disabled at the beginning of the blues era. Many of the Hip-Hop artists with disabilities like MF Grimm and Preechman, both from New York, have started their own labels.This was the only way to get their music out.
Although today we have many blind/disabled musicians, from Teddy Pendergrass to rapper MF Grimm, one of the biggest hurdles for Hip-Hop artists and other musicians with disabilities is the music industry’s attitudes when it comes to disability. For one thing, (booking) agents think that nobody will buy a record/CD that was made by a musician with a disability. Secondly, and this goes hand in hand with number one, these same agents don’t know how to market a musician with a disability.
The thing that they, booking agents, refuse to realize is that there is no difference between marketing a disabled and a non-disabled musician. Matter-of-fact, if the music industry is so concerned with sales and revenues, then they should wake-up and realize that disabled musicians come with an inbuilt and untapped market; the disability community with their organizations, media, and a growing worldwide movement.
Krip-Hop Project has noticed that there are no such national or international organizations providing the above education/advocacy to the music industry. Because of this, we have talented individuals who are disabled and a musician but no (or a limited) organizational framework to learn from early disabled musicians about avoiding the pitfalls of the music industry. However, today musicians with disabilities are forming organizations world-wide, like South African Disabled Musicians Association (SADMA) and Coalition for Disabled Musicians (CDM) in the US, to name a few.
Check out their work at www.SADMA.Org.za and www.disabled-musicians.org. We at Krip-Hop Nation will help continue this important work and are looking to collaborate with the above organizations and Hip-Hop Journalism Association where there is a Krip-Hop column.
In 2006 I had a chance to meet and interview Rob DA Noize Temple of the musical family the Temple Dynasty in Brooklyn, NY. After a year of talking via emails and the phone, I sat down in the studio of Temple and found out that this musician, producer and DJ has been in the music industry for over a decade but hasn’t received the recognition he deserves because of the attitude of the music industry toward disability. He told me many well-known artists and producers said that he would never make it in the industry because of his disability.
Rob DA Noize Temple plays keyboards with one hand because of his disability. After a decade of his own work, two years of working together on Krip-Hop and getting Temple’s story out through my interviews, Rob DA Noize Temple is now touring as a DJ for the Sugarhill Gang.These are the stories that are finally popping up in the Hip-Hop industry and Krip-Hop Project is helping to get support for the artists and at the same time educating the music industry about the marketability, the talents, and the rich history of disabled musicians in Hip-Hop and in other music forms.
It seems in my ongoing research that I am constantly discovering yet another disabled artist, either currently active or once part of the music world. One such disabled artist is the (mostly unknown) Oakland producer Joe Caper -- a blind musician/producer whose resume includes production on Tony! Toni! Tone!'s 1988 Gold album Who? as well as working with many Oakland hip-hop artists in the 80's and early '90's out of his Oakalnd Hills studio which was named J Jam. Unfortunately, Joe never received proper recognition for his work in Oakland's early Hip-Hop scene. This is one story I'm in the middle of doing more researching on, interviewing friends and family.
The mission of Krip-Hop Project is to get the musical talents of hip-hop artists with disabilities into the hands of media outlets, educators, hip-hop, disabled and race scholars, youth, hip-hop conference coordinators, and agents and to report the latest news about musicians with disabilities. Since our first mixtape CD, Krip-Hop Project has created a radio show on Berkeley pirate radio station Berkeley Liberation Radio on Sunday mornings.
Meanwhile Krip-Hop Mixtapes has been featured on WBAI in New York, KPOO in San Francisco and in the May/June 2007 issue of Colorlines Magazine as well as on several internet radio stations and in publications including the Bay Guardian and the New York Press.
Krip-Hop Project also has a column on Hip-Hop Journalism Association online. Brian Sims of the Hip-Hop Journalism Association, HHJA, invited Krip-Hop Project to create a panel at their first conference in Florida 2007, and this year Krip-Hop Project will have a panel to talk about new crops of film documentaries about hip-hop artists with disabilities at HHJA’s conference in New York in early October 2008.
Krip-Hop Project has brought together film directors, radio hosts, journalists and disabled musicians from around the world all through the internet, in media and at conferences to expand the knowledge about musicians with disabilities from the Blues to Hip-Hop. From my travels around the US and internationally, Krip-Hop has enjoyed coverage from the BBC’s Disability radio program (ouch stream) to a small neighborhood radio show, Radio-Opname, in Holland.
In 2007 I had the chance to meet Kathleen Kiley on the Internet. She has been working on a documentary about a Hip-Hop producer with a major disability, quad amputee HalfaSoulja, who makes his living on the streets. Consequently, I had the opportunity to meet HalfaSoulja in New York. I was filmed in New York and at Krip-Hop Nation in Berkeley, CA for the documentary that will be out in early 2009 and was asked to help with language and media outreach for the film. Krip-Hop Project will provide some music for the film also. Check out halfasoulja.com for updates about the Halfasoulja documentary.
Krip-Hop Project has grown too big for one person. When Krip-Hop Mixtape Vol.1 hit the streets in 2007, it sold out in two weeks -- over 500 copies. This is not bad for a one-man production from start to finish, but I knew I could not keep this up. Preechman from New York offered to help out on Volume Two. He produced the cover, mixed the tracks and I picked out the artists and gave Preechman all the tracks. Preechman’s work can be seen and heard at his MySpace.
At the same time a friend of mine in San Francisco offered me an opportunity to co-host a radio show with him on the only Black owned radio station in the Bay Area, KPOO 89.5 FM, and also introduced me to a business, Redtap, that his friend and he have partnered on. Both David Kordsmeier and Roland Washington of Redtap were excited about Krip-Hop Project and wanted Krip-Hop Project to be their first venture. Since then, with Redtap with I have created the Krip-Hop website and will be rearranging both Krip-Hop mixtape volumes into four mixtapes in the online store. The collaborator is now talking about creating an E-book about Krip-Hop, as well as a short documentary.
Since the beginning of Krip-Hop Project it has been hard to find Hip-Hop artists who are women. Recently I have found a few disabled women in this new arena of disabled Hip-Hop artists. Check out Miss Money of Houston, TX who has her own Internet radio show at www.missmoney.net Also DJ SHAZZ of Orange County, who is working on her new CD and also has her own Internet radio show. Visit her MySpace.
If you are interested in Krip-Hop Project, drop us a line at email@example.com. Right now we are working on a book featuring interviews with the artists, artist's statements about their experiences in the music industry, Krip-Hop trivia and pictures of the artists and a merchandise page. We are looking for an editor/publisher for this upcoming book. One of our biggest goals is to have a concert with all the Krip-Hop Artists.
In its two years existence, Krip-Hop Project have worked with MF Grimm; Rob DA Noize Temple; George; TRAGIC Doman, who created Handicap Rap; 4Wheel City; Fezo aka Keith Jones, who is running for US Senate in Massachusetts; Fred Beam, who is one of the creators of Deaf Hip-Hop; and C.R.I.$.I.$ from Zambia, Africa, and who is not disabled but wrote and sang one of the first party songs concerning people with disabilities in his country.
If you want to be a part of Krip-Hop Nation or have a CD that you want us to play on our radio show, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Come visit our websites at kriphop.com and Myspace.com/kriphop.
And finally I would sincerely like to say "thank-you" to Amoeba Music on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley for assisting and promoting the late Brother Malcolm's spoken word CD, Brother Malcolm Speaks!
Brother Malcolm was a disabled former Black Panther activist, union organizer, and advocate for the Berkeley street community and used to sit outside of the Berkeley Amoeba store, where he would educate youth about people power. He got caught up in a police sweep on Telegraph Ave. in April of 2005 and passed away in jail. I miss him a lot.
(This guest Amoeblog penned by: The Kreator of Krip-Hop Project, Leroy F. Moore Jr.)
Addendum: In addition to music Leroy Moore is the co-founder & community relations point person with Sins Invalid: a San Francisco annual performance based around sexuality and disability whose next series of shows are scheduled for September 5th and 6th (8PM) at Brava Theater, 2789 24th. St. SF. One of the group's featured artists is Nomy Lamm, a talented local musician, writer, and activist (and voice teacher) who has toured with Sister Spit (1999), the Sex Workers Art Show (2005), and the cabaret showcase Dr. Frockrocket's Menagerie and Medicine Show (2001). Lamm has released two solo albums (Anthem, 1999 on Talent Show, and Effigy, 2002 on Yoyo Recordings). In 2000 she co-wrote, co-produced, and performed in The Transfused, a post-apocalyptic rock opera about multi-gendered animal-human hybrids, in 2000. For more info email: email@example.com