On April 12, Krip-Hop Nation will be coming to Toronto. The global movement, founded by Leroy F. Moore, raises awareness and gives a voice to hip-hop artists with disabilities – musicians who even today are ignored in the music industry.
After just five years since its inception, Krip-Hop has spread its words out of North America reaching out to disabled rappers in all corners of the globe from South Africa to Palestine to New Zealand. The movement will be coming to Toronto thanks to the help of Tangled Arts and Disability, a registered charitable organization dedicated to showcasing, promoting, inspiring, and mentoring artists with disabilities in all disciplines.
The headliners of Krip-Hop Nation Toronto include Kounterclockwise and Brooklyn native, Rob Da Noize Temple.
Kounterclockwise is a punk-hop duo consisting of Deacon Burns and his wife Kaya Rogue. In describing what punk-hop is, Burns tells Raz Mataz that their music incorporates hip-hop with that “punk, do-it-yourself, stripped-down sound [and] independent attitude” with a “we’re going to do it our way, regardless” kind of feeling to it.
The duo has been through quite a lot emotionally over the past several years. In 2007, Burns was paralyzed in both legs after a tragic car accident. The rapper had found himself in a dark place through his recovery and that could be felt in his 2011 album Daylight Savings Time.
“A lot of songs from the Daylight Savings Time album was kind of bitter because there were bitter pills to swallow after the accident,” said Burns.
However, the MC was able to find himself through the healing powers of music – writing more than 150 songs – and more so, through the guidance of Kaya. Those years of discovery were encapsulated in a fantasy animated film Forever-Land which sees Burns lost in an alternate universe with Kaya and confronted by an evil mastermind and his minions. Eventually Burns topples the villain, symbolic of his battle against coping with his struggles following the 2007 accident.
The 56-minute film incorporates characters and settings from three previous music videos from the duo including ‘Moonwalk’ and ‘Outside the Line’. All were directed and animated by Jim Luhan. A soundtrack accompanies the movie, which will also be released as a 17-track CD this week.
Burns talked often about Kaya, a cheerful and pure-of-heart woman who he described as having a profound impact on helping him recover, being a source of constant positivity through his pessimism and sourness, all expressed in Forever-Land.
“This movie helped me a lot, it helped me really strive towards being a more positive person, to try to put out a message, instead of just griping on poor old me,” said Burns. “Kaya is the more positive of the two of us, [Forever-Land] is basically an ode to her.”
A lot of imagery goes on in the video but one sequence that seemed to resonate the most is when, five minutes into the film, Kaya tells her husband, “You gotta believe, Deacon, you gotta believe. . .” The line kind of passes by in the video without consequence, but it has so much more meaning attached to it considering just how much Kaya meant to Deacon in his journey to finding himself again.
Forever-Land will be shown at the concert before Kounterclockwise performs. The duo’s performance will be what Burns calls “a Hip-Hip, Rocky Horror Picture Show.” There will be performers in costume as characters from the movie like Infinity and the Funk Giants do their thing on stage and in the audience engaging the crowd.
The other headlining act is Rob Da Noize Temple. Part of a music family known as the Temple Dynasty, the veteran R & B artist and producer is currently doing back-up DJ’ing for Rapper’s Delight, formerly known as Sugarhill Gang, and has just completed music production on a a documentary about the group called, I Want My Name Back.
Temple is currently involved in numerous other projects including a unique cookbook that has music for each recipe, now complete and going through the business stages. On top of the cookbook are various albums including a new Temple Dynasty CD, a new Rapper’s Delight project, as well as being part of a Krip-Hop collaborative album.
Temple shared with Raz Mataz his perception of the music industry as someone who is disabled having erb’s palsy.
“I never really considered myself as handicap or disabled because my mom never raised me that way, but that just happened to be something I was,” said Temple. “The music business is an image driven entity, so they don’t really care [about disabled musicians] and the only way you can get in is the way we are doing it now by finding ourselves in our movement and trying to create a awareness from that. . . it’s what we call, push the limits.”
Temple met Leroy after the Krip-Hop founder contacted him out of curiosity of why he can not find any of his music. This was a special concern considering that Temple was the first artist signed to Jive Records in the mid-80s, releasing ‘Love Lights’, which would become a hit overseas in Europe. His name and his music has since been erased from the history of Jive.
Temple is now one of the core members of Krip-Hop, representing the U.S. in Brooklyn, New York, along with Leroy who is based in Berkley, California. The other core members include an International roster of Bikini Woi from Germany, Lady MJ in the U.K., and Ronnie Ronnie from Uganda, Africa.
In regards to Leroy Moore himself, the founder has used his talent as a poet, journalist, activist, and someone with cerebal palsy to push the limits. Krip-Hop’s goal is, as stated online, is “to get the musical talents of hip-hop artists with disabilities into the hands of media outlets, educators, race scholars, youth, journalists and hip-hop conference coordinators.”
They have raised awareness through Leroy’s work with Poor Magazine, along with giving lectures and workshops around the globe, on top of radio podcasts and the Krip-Hop mixtapes, the first one being in 2008.
Moore is also writing a book with the help of Prudence Mabhena, a disabled musician in Zimbabwe. Mabhena’s story of overcoming her struggles and the stereotypes that came with being disabled in Africa was captured in a documentary called Music by Prudence, which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short in 2009.
The Krip-Hop book will explore the lives and works of disabled musicians in the industry. In talking with Raz Mataz, Moore said “Krip-Hop recognizes that we are standing on the platform of other disabled musicians who have been here before, so I put those voices into the book to make the readers realize those musicians who have been here.”
After Krip-Hop Nation’s visit to Toronto, the movement will be be going down to the DADA festival in the U.K. in November. Leroy says he has two goals for the future for the ever-growing Krip-Hop movement: to visit Africa, already having a member in Uganda in Ronnie Ronnie, and to get the voices of disabled women out there, another demographic who have been silenced.
Krip-Hop Nation will be in Toronto on April 12 at the Oakham House at Ryerson University, running from 8pm to 11pm.
To learn more about the Krip-Hop movement check out an essay written by Leroy himself: http://www.wordgathering.com/issue22/essays/moore2.html
To learn more about The Tangled Arts and Disabilties group and the various events they host, along with further information about Krip-Hop Nation Toronto, visit: http://abilitiesartsfestival.org/krip-hop-nation-toronto/
The song that put Temple put on the map, only to be lost through time:
Leroy Moore speaks out against hip-hop artists today who talk about being the first disabled rapper without understanding and paying respecting to those who came before them: