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Napoleon Maddox interview

See here posted the original English text of Napoleon Maddox’s Interview by Cristiana Piraino |Romalive. At the end of the page you will find a free download brand new song that Napoleon is giving us.   >> GO TO THE ITALIAN FULL POST Napoleon Maddox and ISWHAT?! will be in Rome at Lanificio 1 November 2013 for Roma Jazz Festval 2013 Speech.

Q. ISWhat?! with a question and exclamation mark. Is this how you feel and the way you see the role of contemporary art?

NapoleonSolo: Yes exactly .. We answer questions with bold questioning .. It’s not to assume that we even know the answers but we are not afraid to go beyond what has been given as the “official” story .. In terms of art, music, politics, religion & life in general…

Q. Like many artists, you are able to see beyond things, you also have a ‘privileged’ view of the world around us. Through your music we see a world that is not quite the idyllic and ideal one, if there ever was an ideal world. Do you really think that music can, today and in the future, regain the role of being a ‘complaint’ entity to stir the conscience for a better mass behaviour?

NapoleonSolo: I don’t think music has ever left that role of stirring the conscience .. The best music moves you .. Always .. The question here has more to do with … Whether the masses want inspiration for better behavior -VS- the masses wanting just entertainment. Ironically some the most inspiring works of art are enjoyable even when you ignore the deeper message inside

Q.  How many people are intelligent enough? This sentence of yours from your first album “You figure It Out” strikes me. This is the question I often ask myself. Do we have an answer? It seems that a lone person is very smart but once together, human beings can act as a mass of fools. (please tell us more about the great idea to reunite Charles Mingus and Public Enemy)

NapoleonSolo: It reminds me of the conditions in certain schools where the young people have not been inspired by the lessons of the teacher in the classrooms for years & years, so they are more interested in showing their peer group that they are “cool” .. I think often humans in general are working this way .. People can follow traditions and trends .. Just knowing that others are doing it .. They are more comfortable that way .. It’s very very funny to watch in fashion/design .. People now wear things they would have laughed at before a magazine or TV said it was ok … SMH
About Mingus & PE .. Well it’s normal to us in ISWHAT?! these great artists share a common tradition of protest song and fearless creativity .. I call it REBEL MUSIC but we realize that a lot of people think Jazz has no place with Hiphop..  This is a problem with people who want to enjoy an artistic expression without appreciating the circumstances and culture that created it…

Q. I see that in your list of favourite ‘black music giants’ you have included John Coltrane, that’s amazing! You will soon perform in Rome in an important jazz festival and I understand the importance of jazz in your music. My question is how jazz has changed today and how do you see the contemporary jazz scene in the USA, the home of jazz?

NapoleonSolo: Now it’s much harder to give one precise impression of what you are talking about when you say Jazz. .. It has mutated a lot sonically and socially .. For several reasons it’s become a music that it’s under appreciated and under represented in the black community .. But Jazz will never die .. It’s roots are too real and full of soul power..

Q. Rap and Jazz, both forms of music that come straight from the heart. Two different tools for the same future, socially committed revolution – is this still possible?

NapoleonSolo: It’s not only possible but it is happening. Hiphop has given Jazz new audiences for decades already .. I MYSELF for sure was able to go deeper into Jazz thru my appreciation for great Hiphop … and Jazz provides Hiphop with a more rich context in history .. and overall a dialogue such as the one we are having now .. Both giving voice and status the voiceless

Q.  We are really excited to get the chance to see you all perform in Rome. We know that ISWHAT?! performances are a mix of music, vocals and readings. How many members of the band will be in Rome and could you please introduce them one-by-one?

NapoleonSolo: There will be 4 of us on stage in Rome: Erik Sevret – sax & effects, Dave Kane – bass & vocals, Hamid Drake – drums, the mythic free drummer (also heard with Herbie Hancock and Pharoah Sanders…); & myself – vocals, beatbox & effects. Oh … and of course the audience is always a big part of the ISWHAT?! show…. 🙂

Interview by Cristiana Piraino

Security Napoleon Maddox ISWHAT?!

Here is a brand new ISWHAT?! song we offer for free download for your readers (Napoleon)



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