Playin’ It Cool: MK Asante and Jeff Chang

In advance of ALOUD’s fall season kick-off this Tuesday, we caught up with award-winning filmmaker, hip hop artist and author MK Asante (Buck) and award-winning author Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop) for a look at what artists and authors are fueling them with inspiration.   Queue up these recs on your playlist for some fresh favorites from two of hip hops leading voices. And join us on Tuesday when Asante and fellow musician friends Ras Kass and Bishop Lamont take the Library stage for a special live performance of “Godz N The Hood,” Asante’s first song as a hip hop artist.

MK Asante recommends:

“The lyrics to this song helped transform my life.”

Jay Electronica“Exhibit C”
“Jay captured our individual stories, our collective history, and our soul in this track.”

King Mez“Exordium”
“My favorite new artist. King Mez is the future of hip hop.”

Dead Prez“It’s Bigger than Hip Hop”
“Pure revolutionary energy. I named my last book after this powerful song.”

Jeff Chang recommends:

Book: Jorge Amado, “Captain of the Sands”
“Anyone who loves MK’s work should enjoy this brand new translation of this moving Brazilian classic by the great Jorge Amado about a crew of street kids in Bahia. A modernist gem perfectly suited for the post-hip-hop generation.”

Music: Earl Sweatshirt
“There has been a ton of great hip hop coming from a new generation of young artists over the last year, including Kendrick Lamar, Angel Haze, Chance The Rapper, and Joey Badass. LA.’s Earl Sweatshirt has a bio with striking similarities to MK’s, along with a similar naked kind of lyricism.”

Film: The Grandmaster
“Wong Kar Wai. Yuen Woo Ping. Zhang Ziyi. Tony Leung. I mean, come on. What’s your style?”

Activism: “Because of the insane events of this summer, we are heading into a period of intense youth activism and organizing. I am so inspired to point to groups like the Dream Defenders and the Dream 9, groups that have been inspired by the vision of Dr. King and the militancy of past liberation movements. They give us all hope.”

Photo: Facebook/Dream Defenders

Read Jeff’s piece on “Rap and the Los Angeles Riots” in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

If you’re joining us on September 10th for the ALOUD program, you’ll have a chance to rap with MK and Jeff at a post-program reception in the Library courtyard.  See you then!

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