By Tony Muhammad
In the midst of the August 2016 Milwaukee uprisings, this Hip Hop Educator reached out to Milwaukee Hip Hop artist and fellow FOI (Fruit of Islam) Gat Turner. In our dialogue he comments on the current social and political climate of the city that the youth in its streets have renamed “Killwaukee” because of the level of violence and injustice that is experienced on an institutional level as well as his perspective on views shared by Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey and Sheriff David Clarke. Gat also mentions his current projects as an artist and his involvement assisting in the 10,000 Fearless Campaign launched by The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan at the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March in October 2015.
TM: Peace and As-Salaam-Alaikum dear Brother! You’re from Milwaukee and you’re experiencing first-hand what is presently taking place as a result of the recent police shooting and killing of what police say was an armed 23 year-old Black man with a stolen gun and ammunition. From what you’re experiencing first hand, can you describe the current climate of your city?
GT: Walaikum Salaam Beloved! I first want to say that it is an honor and a privilege to take part in this interview Brother Tony. From my vantage point the city’s climate is what it has been for the past few years. It has been a place of helplessness and hopelessness. It has been a place of apathy and antipathy. Which in turn makes Milwaukee a cesspool of volatility. It only required minimal agitation for the uprising to happen. This city has been a powder keg waiting to happen. I did a song on the ‘Killwaukee Xperiment’ mixtape that I did with Milwaukee raptivist Viva Fidel entitled, ‘The Fire This Time’, in that song I foretold this day. Like the rapper Nas said, “It Ain’t Hard To Tell.” Anyone with any compassion for Black people and their ear to the street could see this coming.
TM: What are your views of the police narrative and what has your experience been concerning similar police narratives in your city, especially as told by police sheriff David Clarke who wants the National Guard involved to stop the uprisings in Milwaukee?
GT: Well my Brother… The police narrative is always tainted. That is why it has to be a Gat Turner on the scene to tell the Truth and counter the lies that are being force fed to the people by biased mainstream media outlets. The great Chuck D. of the rap group Public Enemy once said that, “Hip Hop is like the Blackman’s or the Hood’s CNN.” Well Hip Hop has to represent that unadulterated truth to the people because we know that these systems lie and cover one another to maintain their status quo. And honestly Brother Tony… You don’t want me to get started on Sheriff Clarke. Really Sheriff Clarke is like a Muppet. He is just the mouthpiece for a right wing agenda. He is the quintessential sell-out. When you see him and hear him, just know that there is someone else pulling his strings… There is someone else that has their hand up his backside. He has never had an original thought.
TM: Many officials, police and media personalities have been critical of the words of City
Alderman Khalif Rainey who publicly described Milwaukee as a “powder keg” for potential violence throughout the summer. Coherently, he described there being major racial problems in Milwaukee and really, it being the worst place for Black people to live in in the country. He said that the uprisings from this past weekend came as a result of the inequities, injustice, un-employment and under-education. How true are these statements and what pro-active solutions are there for these problems?
GT: Alderman Khalif Rainey is a good friend of mine. He is more of a truth teller than he is a politician. Politicians are versed in untruths, half-truths, and hide-the-truths… Alderman Rainey is not. He told the Truth! His truth was ‘the shot heard around the city’, because it is unusual for a person in his position to not follow the script already laid out for them by their Master, sorry… I meant Mayor. He told the Truth and I back him in that Truth. In regards to pro-active solutions, Honestly Brother… The only pro-active solution that I see as a remedy for these problems is SEPARATION! The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us that Separation is the Best & Only Solution! Time has proven him to be correct. We have tried everything else. We have migrated up north, now those jobs are gone. We have integrated the schools, only to have nearly a fifty percent dropout rate of Black males under this current education system. Malcolm said, “Only a fool would allow his enemy to teach his children.” We integrated the police force with Black men and women and they are killing us now, just like the enemy. We need to leave these people and go for ourselves. Everything else has been tried & everything else has failed.
TM: As an artist who has his ear to the street, a member of the FOI (Fruit of Islam), a foot soldier in the community what projects are you presently working on to make the Black and Latino communities of Milwaukee better places to live for our people?
GT: I am currently working to assist in the 10,000 Fearless Campaign launched by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. Last year during his push for the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March, Justice or Else, I was facilitating a Stop the Violence campaign that was affectionately known as 20 Hoodz – 20 Weekz. I, along with other concerned activists in the city of Milwaukee took to the streets in hopes of curbing some of the violence that had taken place at that time. We walked through the toughest and most poverty stricken neighborhoods in the city and provided resources to them, offered conflict resolution to settle their disputes, as well as did neighborhood clean ups and block parties. We had a measure of success and we hope to continue doing that work and make it even bigger and more successful with the help of Allah, and incorporate what we did with what the Minister wants us to do.
TM: What album projects are you currently working on?
GT: Well many people are recognizing now how relevant the project that I did with my partner in rhyme Viva Fidel (who is Latino), ‘The Killwaukee Xperiment’ is to the uprising here in Milwaukee. We have a follow up piece to that will be coming soon. If it is the will of Allah I will be dropping #TheTime on October 16th of this year. Then I will be releasing a project that has been 6 years in the making entitled, “The Death of Gat Turner.” The Death of Gat Turner will feature production by Evolution BeKnown/G Force 7, Black Soil, and Stolen Art. Other artists featured will be Grayco, my wife Melissa Blue, Mook G., Viva Fidel, and a surprise emcee that I will keep to myself right now.
TM: How do you believe your music is reflective of the concerns of our people today?
GT: I believe that it is very reflective because I take what the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan gives me and I put it into a song. I take his guidance and his wisdom and I put it over a beat. When I write a rhyme I ask myself… WWFD What Would Farrakhan Do… What Would Farrakhan Say. I then take what he would say and I put it creatively in my own words his message. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan my humble opinion is ‘THE’ Voice of the people. He is THE pulse of the people. He is THE Man of God on the scene to day. So I believe what he has to say is reflective of the Time that we are living in & what must be done to survive in this troubled time.
TM: What is the most revolutionary thing that a Black conscientious artist can do in these very intense times?
GT: I believe that the most revolutionary thing that a Black conscientious artist can do in these intense times is to Accept his own & be himself! & speak truth to power!
TM: Thank you for your time! As-Salaam-Alaikum!
GT: No Thank you Brother Tony & may Allah continue to bless on your walk with His Apostle. Walaikum Salaam!
Tony Muhammad has been teaching Social Studies and Humanities in Miami-Dade County Schools for over 17 years. Tony is most noted for his work as publisher of Urban America Newspaper (2003 – 2007) and co-organizer of the Organic Hip Hop Conference (2004 – 2009). He has also designed curricula in the area of Black, Latino and Hip Hop studies for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. He currently serves as a student assistant minister to Student Minister Patrick Muhammad at Muhammad Mosque #29 in Miami, Florida.