Jasiri Oronde Smith
|"Free the Jena 6"; "What if the Tea Party was Black?"|
|Awards||Honorary doctorate, Chicago Theological Seminary (2016), Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artist as Activist Award (2015), USA Fellow (2015)|
Jasiri X (born Jasiri Oronde Smith) is a Pittsburgh-based rapper and activist who gained attention for his 2007 song "Free the Jena 6." He is a recipient of the Rauschenberg Artist as Activist award and founder of anti-violence group 1Hood. In 2016, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Chicago Theological Seminary.
Jasiri X was born Jasiri Oronde Smith in Chicago, Illinois. In the 1980s he moved with his mother to Monroeville, Pennsylvania and attended Gateway High School, graduating at age 16. Intending to become a lawyer, he began college at the University of Maryland, then attended the University of Pittsburgh but did not finish college.
After leaving school, Jasiri began spoken word, performing initially as Jo Smith. He also became an activist and was introduced to the Nation of Islam, taken by an acquaintance to a mosque in 1997. Jasiri met Louis Farrakhan a year later when Farrakhan was in Pittsburgh to support a boycott, and Jasiri subsequently registered as a member the Nation of Islam. In 2005, he became the minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 22 in Wilkinsburg.
Jasiri X has created music addressing social and political issues, including his 2007 song "Free the Jena 6", "Trayvon" following George Zimmerman's shooting of Trayvon Martin in February 2012, "Do We Need to Start a Riot?" and "What if the Tea Party was Black?" He encouraged other hip-hop artists to engage these concerns as well.
In 2010 he released his first album, American History X. In 2013, he released a second album, called Ascension, with Vancouver label Wandering Worx. In 2015, he released Black Liberation Theology, with features from David Banner and Tef Poe among others. He has mentioned Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Lauryn Hill, Tupac, the Notorious B.I.G., Public Enemy, and KRS-One as among his musical influences.
Awards and grants
- 2015 "Artist as Activist" fellowship at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
- 2015 USA Fellow, a $50,000 award from United States Artists for "innovative, accomplished artists...for their fresh perspectives, unique artistic vision, and impact on their field"
- 2015 commission from the Open Society Foundation to create a film on the effects of the drug war on South America
- 2016 honorary doctorate from the Chicago Theological Seminary
- Alcindor, Yamiche (July 13, 2014). "Activists continue fight year after Zimmerman verdict". USA Today. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- Mervis, Scott. "Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X goes beyond the politics on national debut 'Ascension'". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- Chandler, D. L. (13 March 2015). "Pittsburgh Rapper Jasiri X Receives Artist As Activist Fellowship Grant". Hip-Hop Wired.
- Schultz, Kayla (March 3, 2015). ""The Internet Is My Lifeline": Hip-Hop Artist Jasiri X on the FCC's Net Neutrality Vote". Yes! Magazine. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- New Pittsburgh Courier Editorial Staff (6 February 2013). "One Hood Media gives voice to Black males". New Pittsburgh Courier. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- Hook, Skyy (8 May 2016). "Rapper/Activist Jasiri X To Receive Honorary PHD". Allhiphop. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- Mervis, Scott (November 11, 2015). "Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X named a USA Fellow". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
- "Local Nation of Islam minister reaches out". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
- Sheets, Connor Adams (27 March 2012). "Trayvon Martin Tribute Songs From Chaka Khan to Jasiri X [VIDEOS]". International Business Times. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- King, Shaun (October 27, 2014). "The definitive discography of police protest songs with videos and lyrics". The Daily Kos. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- Kent, Tom (2010-07-19). "Jasiri X, Pittsburgh Rapper, Asks America: 'What If The Tea Party Was Black?' (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
- Christopher, Tommy (July 15, 2010). "New Rap Video Asks 'What if the Tea Party Was Black?'". Mediaite. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
- Allen, Freddie (October 21, 2014). "Time For Hip-Hop Artists to Stand For Black Community". Sacramento Observer. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- Ivey, Justin (July 28, 2016). "'If I can help with the healing, it's worth it': Baton Rouge rapper Marcel P. Black talks new album, 'Cry Freedom'". The Advocate. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
- "Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X goes beyond the politics on national debut 'Ascension'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
- Creekmur, Chuck "Jigsaw" (November 27, 2015). "REVIEW: Jasiri X's "Black Liberation Theology" Invites Listeners To An Audio Revolution". AllHiphop. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
- Ocker, Kenny (January 17, 2016). "Q&A with rapper Jasiri X, who takes social message to UPS for MLK event". The News Tribune. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
- Mervis, Scott (March 9, 2015). "Fellowship boosts Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X's cachet". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
- Breihan, Tom (24 February 2015). "R.E.M., Neutral Milk Hotel, Britt Daniel, Kathleen Hanna & More Endorse Net Neutrality In Open Letter To FCC". Stereogum. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- Bell, Merleyn; Willett, Paige (August 29, 2016). "Rapper Jasiri X Aims To Change Minds One Rhyme At A Time". KGOU. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
- "Grammy Award Winning Che "Rhymefest" & Activist Jasiri X Form Super Hip-Hop Duo "Kill Switch"". sankofa.org. Retrieved 2017-03-14.