Jasiri X, Anti-Flag make their mark at SXSW
• Pittsburgh's political correspondents -- one rap, one punk -- made their mark while they were in Austin for SXSW.
Rapper Jasiri X, along with doing performances and speaking gigs at the conference, shot a video for his song "Trayvon," protesting what he declares is a lack of justice for 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed Feb. 26, allegedly by a block watch captain in a gated Florida community.
Jasiri X, working with Paradise Gray, raps over the track "No Church in the Wild," from Kanye West/Jay-Z, as he documents the youth's tragic walk to a neighborhood store to buy a bag of Skittles.
He comes around to the conclusion, "And George Zimmerman wasn't even arrested/the message is only white life is protected -- in America."
"The reaction has been very strong, especially on Facebook and Twitter," Jasiri says. "NPR talked about it [on Wednesday]. The reaction has been mostly supportive, although a few people have taken exception to the last line."
Jasiri was in Austin, with some other Pittsburgh artists, on a trip sponsored by The League of Women Voters. The genesis to write and record the song came from a panel discussion he did with activist group Color of Change.
He says the highlights of his trip were seeing rap legend Nas ("one of the most influential rappers on me") and seeing Mac Miller perform and win his mtvU Woodie awards. ("He's a really good dude and deserves the recognition.")
Along with playing a club gig, Anti-Flag ended up doing street theater with their friend Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. The guitarist, after performing that evening with Bruce Springsteen, connected with Occupy SXSW to stage an impromptu event outside the Swan Club late Friday night.
He performed "This Land Is Your Land" and introduced Anti-Flag, who plugged in and proceeded to generate a mosh pit right in the street. Also on hand was Wayne Kramer of the MC5.
When police cut off the power, Mr. Morello used "the people's mic" to continue his rally.
On Tuesday, Anti-Flag released its ninth album, "The General Strike."
Although they come from different schools, a future Jasiri X/Anti-Flag collaboration would only make sense.
• Speaking of Mac Miller -- winner of the Woodie of the Year and Performance Woodie (over Kanye West/Jay-Z) -- Friday is release day for "Macadelic," the mixtape that follows his chart-topping album "Blue Slide Park."
Check his twitter @macmiller and macmillerofficial.com for details on downloading "Macadelic" -- and then prepare for the usual crashing servers and other complications before you get your hands on it.
At the press conference following the awards last week, he raved about his fans, who voted him the winner: "I think they just see me as one of them. I never wanted to be put on a pedestal. I never wanted fans that looked up to me ... that's why I think they go so hard for me."
Ernie Hawkins nominated
• Pittsburgh acoustic bluesman Ernie Hawkins has received two nominations in the 11th Annual Independent Music Awards -- for Tribute Album ("Whinin' Boy") and Cover Song ("Shuffle Rag").
Mr. Hawkins, renowned for his Piedmont fingerpicking style in the mode of the Rev. Gary Davis, will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday for SongSpace at First Unitarian Church, 605 Morewood Ave., in Shadyside.
Tickets are $15 general admission/$10 students, available at the door. For more information call 412-621-8008 or www.uusongspace.com.
Also garnering a nomination was singer-songwriter Brooke Annibale for "Under Streetlights" in the Adult Contemporary category.