Off the heels of an EP release of the same name, this Friday the Northeast group Off-10 present their new show Jubilee at Intermedia Arts, combining their backgrounds as rappers and spoken word poets to create a theater performance focused on dissecting the machinations of intolerance and supporting a multi-racial uprising.
What is Off-10 exactly?
What's the format of the show?
G.P.jacob: We're gonna be working with a drummer, a guitar player, and also a DJ, and it's gonna be me, Spencer and our other brother Ryan. It's going to start with Ryan's performance -- he's going to read some of the poetry and some of the essays that I was writing at the time that I was writing these songs also to express the whole politics of the show.
Brandon Allday's going to be DJing in the gallery beforehand and there's going to be some poets from the Be Heard slam series. Unfuh was a part of the Quest For The Voice slam team when he was younger that goes to a national competition every year, they need to raise money for their trip so they're going to be performing in the gallery.
Unfuh Qwittable: We're not shying away from the fact that it's very political. What we're bringing up is really asking agitating questions and calling into question racism, especially in our community, and questioning of who owns your education. Trying to spread political education on the topic and to agitate people to question their debt.
What drew you to dissecting whiteness itself as one of the prevailing themes of Jubilee?
G.P.jacob: I feel like a big part of what motivated the show, and part of why I feel like it's urgent to say this and release this music, is trying to provide an alternative to the Southern Strategy. I was never raised to know what that was. The Republican Party literally set out a plan to aim cultural messages at the communities like the one we grew up in -- the working class people, so-called white folks, European-Americans -- to literally shape our perspectives to say that the reason we were living through poverty, the reason why a lot of us were in debt, it was the immigrants fault, or it was the black folks fault.
Conservatives would stoke this [racial divide], and we lived through the violence of that scene. So trying to get out here and provide an alternative, like, no, black people don't deserve to be shot in the street, no it's not the immigrants' fault, your life can be more than just military service or working at the prison.
What for you is the strength of this particular art form to convey the ideas you're trying to get across?
Unfuh Qwittable: After this Jubilee cycle, Jake has another EP coming out that is a little less focused politically, more just showcasing the fact that we're MCs too. We're just rapping and practicing the culture. But I think it was appropriate to lead with this Jubilee because of the urgency, and to let you know Off-10 is on some other shit.
G.P.jacob: I know we're the land of white rappers or whatever... It's just to offer a different perspective. It's to speak about race upfront rather than run from it. Especially with the legacy of minstrelsy in this country. In times that are so racially polarized, we come from these different environments and we want to speak on these upfront.
G.P.jacob: That's the beautiful thing about hip-hop too, is like Zulu Nation, I think about the ethic of solidarity. I feel like that's what growing up in Northeast Minneapolis created in us. We came from an environment that was shameful, the amount of racism and ignorance that was perpetuated, but through that we learned, and I think that the younger generation stands on a real multi-racial ideology of community and solidarity. People come from different places, so it's a different process for people, but in every aspect I feel like a cultural revolution is really necessary.
What we need is truth-telling, and it's a beautiful form for truth-telling. To catch people's ears and move people's minds. That's exactly the strength of theater and poetry and music. I think about another tradition I draw from, the militant folk tradition, the labor tradition. I think about Woody Guthrie, and the power of stories. When you got the news and the mass media trying to sew all this confusion, here's some simple stories of shared experience where you can see each other across racial lines and build.
Catch Off-10 perform Jubilee at Intermedia Arts on Friday, April 10th; all ages, $5, 7pm.
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