Krip-Hop Artist Fezo May Be Retiring From Music, But Not Activism - by guest Amoeblogger Leroy F Moore Jr.

Posted by Billyjam, May 28, 2015 08:15pm | Post a Comment

Below is the latest in an ongoing series of featured articles, spanning several years, on the topic of Krip-Hop written by guest Amoeblogger Leroy F Moore Jr. Leroy is both a pioneer of that hip-hop sub-genre as well as the founder of Krip-Hop Nation, the umbrella group that links hip-hop artists with disabilities from all over the globe. For this article the artist/activist/author discusses fellow Krip-Hopper Fezo (aka Fezo Da Mad One), his brand new and final album, and retirement from hip-hop. Leroy is currently finishing up his soon to be published book The Black Kripple Delivers Poetry & Lyrics (Poetic Matrix Press).

Fezo "Alter Ego" (2008)

Keith Jones, the artist known as Fezo, and I first met in person at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, MA back in 2004.  The Missouri-born, Sacramento-based Krip-Hop artist and I instantly bonded. That was probably because we have so much in common. We are both Black men with cerebral palsy, and are both of the same age.  At that time, eleven years ago, we were both in our mid-thirties. Furthermore we are both poets, both activists, and we each share a passionate love of music. 

After taking over the Disability Caucus at the DNC by organizing Black disabled advocates to bum rush the Caucus to make sure diverse voices were being heard, Fezo and I made our way to a music studio to drop some songs and to talk more about Krip-Hop Nation. As we got our headphones on Fezo shared some news with me, made all the more dramatic by the fact that, due to his mic being turned on, was amplified throughout the studio. "Leroy, Hip-Hop is not ready to face its ableism so I have two albums left before I retire from Hip-Hop," he announced to my disappointment.  Upon hearing this my mind screamed "NO!" because for once I had met a Black disabled activist/artist whose raps spoke to me, and whom I fully understood because of my own experience as a poet, activist, and founder of Krip-Hop Nation. I could relate firsthand to all the shut doors he had faced.

Well that predicated day of quitting hip-hop for Fezo has finally arrived. Earlier this week - on May 24th of 2015 - he released what will be his final album, the CD Vocal Tai Chi that will soon be available in the Bay Area Amoeba stores. However, even though Fezo might be retiring from making Hip-Hop, that does not mean that he will not discontinue his activism.

Vocal Tai Chi contains 14 songs packed with messages for our society, the Hip-Hop industry, and many geared for the dance floor too. Vocal Tai Chi is vocal activism via story telling songs. There's one spoken from the perspective of young Black lady with a disability ("Anymore") who is trying to express her sexuality. Meanwhile "The People" warns of the societal damages of gentrification.  In the track "Game Changer" you can hear us in the studio having fun as Fezo bust out a smooth old Hip-Hop beat that he makes with his feet because of his disability.  Fezo raps that not only he, but his politics are globally local on the track "Wah 4 Dem Say." He even includes a song for the ladies in "Baby R U Down" in which he displays his sexuality, disability, and more with pride.

All in all, Fezo has a lot to say through Hip-Hop and through his activism. The CD cover is a photo straight from Fezo's cross country life with him sitting at the airport in the "disabled seat" with his big ass earphones on waiting for his next flight to his next gig to drop some knowledge at a campus or at a national conference.

Keith Jones: Un-Rapping Disability from John Michalczyk III on Vimeo (2012)

But the question that Fezo raised a decade ago still rings true to this day: is Hip-Hop ready to face its ableism and ready to embrace all artists, specifically Hip-Hop artists with a physical disability? Regardless of the reception in the larger sphere of mainstream Hip-Hop, like it or not, artists with disabilities are here to stay. We are not going anywhere and will continue to make music and (or as in the case of Fezo) continue our activism and always stay political. I should point out that after the time we met at DNC in 2008 Keith decided to run for Senate in MA telling me that he felt compelled to do so "as a person concerned about the state and the future of the country" and even though he didn't win he didn't feel defeated nor did give up on politics. Not surprisingly, since he now lives in the capital of California, he told me recently that he is thinking of making another run for getting into political office which seems like a natural next step for him.

Like all old school Hip-Hop artists Fezo knows that Hip-Hop is much more than merely music, that it is a culture, and he hence will continue to be a part of that culture via his activism in the Krip-Hop Nation even if he no longer records music. Will he run for state or federal office again? Perhaps, that remains to be seen. But in the meantime check out his last final album, soon to arrive in Amoeba but currently available from the artist here.

Keith Jones (aka Fezo) at NH Presidential Disability Forum (2007)

Relevant Tags

Fezo (3), Leroy F Moore Jr (4), Leroy Moore (23), Hip-hop Artists With Disabilities (3), Krip-hop (12), Fezo The Mad One (3), Keith Jones (3)