OKP TV Exclusive: Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch + 9th Wonder Join Forces To Form Indie 500
“Hip-hop praises individualism. I think that’s the main achievement of the Native Tongues. It just showed people could come together.” – Q-Tip, A Tribe Called Quest
When the hashtag #Indie500 started to appear in the tweets of 9th Wonder, Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli and members of their teams over the 4th of July holiday this year, the hip-hop community began to see signs of a second coming-together. There was little explanation, but the hint being given was a major one — these underground rap powerhouses were intent on creating a movement.
The squad, the renegades and the place for us and those like us (Jamla Records, W.A.R. Media, and Javotti Media, respectively) have made a decided effort to combine their immense talents, rosters, and resources to create Indie 500, a collective — led by 9th, Monch, and Kweli — with intentions not only to carry on the tradition of unity set forth by Native Tongues, but to also re-establish the importance of mindfulness in both music and business. Sensing the potential for a major sea-change in the world of hip-hop, Okayplayer took the presence of all three joint chiefs at Atlanta’s A3C conference as a chance to get the exclusive, detailing the Indie 500 manifesto in their own words — and on camera.
Watch Kweli, 9th and Monch below (and read their definitive statements on the new collective) and continue to support their individual projects — Talib Kweli just dropped the live version of Prisoner of Consciousness. Before we let the legends tell it, we leave you with one final thought: It’s not uncommon these days to hear or read complaints about “radio rap,” commercialism in hip-hop and the lack of depth in the music industry at large. And the common response is that if you want to see a change, support the artists hustling to make it happen. To borrow from the metaphor established with the name Indie 500: You can’t expect them to stay in the race if no one’s fueling their engines.
9th Wonder on the Music:
“Indie 500 is a kind of continuation of the Native Tongues sound all the way to the Rawkus sound. Badu, Jill Scott, Slum Village — anywhere that has that texture of sound that feels good with good lyrics — Indie 500 is a continuation of that and a new generation. We’re trying to continue on the tradition of classic — what they like to call ‘traditional’ — hip-hop. Grass roots, deep-rooted hip-hop music.”
Pharoahe Monch on the Business:
“We looked at each other and we were like, we should do business together and music together. Not just on the rap side, but on the touring side, the business side and sharing of information. It’s empowering, it’s beautiful, and it’s important for that to be known. To inspire younger generations to not only rap, but to start companies and corporations.”
Talib Kweli on the Essence:
“It’s everybody that we’re down with…anybody that has an independent mind state or spirit is Indie 500. It’s important for us, as artists, that we value the art, and we raise the value of art. So we state that we’re independent, that we’re black owned, we’re stating that we have value and you need to pay attention to us.”