Jasiri X

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Jasiri X
Jasiri Oronde Smith

Occupation(s)Rapper, activist
Organization(s)1Hood, 1Hood Media
Notable work"Free the Jena 6"; "What if the Tea Party was Black?"
SpouseCeleste C. Smith
AwardsHonorary doctorate, Chicago Theological Seminary (2016), Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artist as Activist Award (2015), USA Fellow (2015)

Jasiri X (born Jasiri Oronde Smith) is an American rapper and activist[1] who gained attention for his 2007 song "Free the Jena 6."[2] He is a recipient of the Rauschenberg Artist as Activist award[3] and co-founder of anti-violence group 1Hood.[4][5] In 2016, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Chicago Theological Seminary.[6]

Early life[edit]

Jasiri X was born Jasiri Oronde Smith[7] 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.[2]


After leaving school, Jasiri began spoken word,[2] performing initially as Jo Smith.[8] He also became an activist and was introduced to the Nation of Islam, taken by an acquaintance to a mosque in 1997.[8] 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.[8]

Jasiri X has created music addressing social and political issues, including his 2007 song "Free the Jena 6",[2] "Trayvon" following George Zimmerman's killing of Trayvon Martin in February 2012,[9] "Do We Need to Start a Riot?"[10] and "What if the Tea Party was Black?"[11][12] He encouraged other hip-hop artists to engage these concerns as well.[13][14]

In 2010 he released his first album, American History X.[2] In 2013, he released a second album, called Ascension, with Vancouver label Wandering Worx.[15] In 2013, Jasiri X was part of a delegation of artists and activists, including labor leader Bill Fletcher and writer Dream Hampton, who visited the State of Palestine and Israel. The Carter Center funded the trip. Jasiri produced a music video for his rap song "Checkpoint," which is based on the occupation, oppression, colonialism, and discrimination he witnessed firsthand during his trip to Palestine and Israel. The video features footage Jasiri himself captured of Israeli soldiers and newsreel clips of Israel Defense Forces brutality against Palestinians.[16][17][18]

In 2015, he released Black Liberation Theology, with features from David Banner and Tef Poe among others.[19] 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.[20]

Jasiri X also has a YouTube-based show "This Week with Jasiri X"[21] and has been an advocate for net neutrality[22] particularly as it relates to protecting access for low-income people of color.[4]

In 2006, he cofounded the anti-violence group 1Hood,[23] which includes a media academy teaching young black boys to analyze media as well as create their own.[5]

Awards and grants[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alcindor, Yamiche (July 13, 2014). "Activists continue fight year after Zimmerman verdict". USA Today. Archived from the original on 3 January 2017. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Mervis, Scott. "Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X goes beyond the politics on national debut 'Ascension'". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b Chandler, D. L. (13 March 2015). "Pittsburgh Rapper Jasiri X Receives Artist As Activist Fellowship Grant". Hip-Hop Wired.
  4. ^ a b 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.
  5. ^ a b New Pittsburgh Courier Editorial Staff (6 February 2013). "One Hood Media gives voice to Black males". New Pittsburgh Courier. Archived from the original on 20 September 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  6. ^ a b Hook, Skyy (8 May 2016). "Rapper/Activist Jasiri X To Receive Honorary PHD". Allhiphop. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b Mervis, Scott (November 11, 2015). "Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X named a USA Fellow". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "Local Nation of Islam minister reaches out". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on 2017-02-20. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  9. ^ Sheets, Connor Adams (27 March 2012). "Trayvon Martin Tribute Songs From Chaka Khan to Jasiri X [VIDEOS]". International Business Times. Archived from the original on 20 September 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  10. ^ King, Shaun (October 27, 2014). "The definitive discography of police protest songs with videos and lyrics". The Daily Kos. Archived from the original on 11 September 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  11. ^ Kent, Tom (2010-07-19). "Jasiri X, Pittsburgh Rapper, Asks America: 'What If The Tea Party Was Black?' (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2017-03-14. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  12. ^ Christopher, Tommy (July 15, 2010). "New Rap Video Asks 'What if the Tea Party Was Black?'". Mediaite. Archived from the original on March 14, 2017. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  13. ^ Allen, Freddie (October 21, 2014). "Time For Hip-Hop Artists to Stand For Black Community". Sacramento Observer. Archived from the original on 20 September 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  14. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 2017-03-15. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  15. ^ "Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X goes beyond the politics on national debut 'Ascension'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on 2017-05-17. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  16. ^ https://www.palestinechronicle.com/checkpoint-music-video/
  17. ^ https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/Print?oid=1726005
  18. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtXoS-s1oBE
  19. ^ Creekmur, Chuck "Jigsaw" (November 27, 2015). "REVIEW: Jasiri X's "Black Liberation Theology" Invites Listeners To An Audio Revolution". AllHiphop. Archived from the original on March 15, 2017. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ a b Mervis, Scott (March 9, 2015). "Fellowship boosts Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X's cachet". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Bell, Merleyn; Willett, Paige (August 29, 2016). "Rapper Jasiri X Aims To Change Minds One Rhyme At A Time". KGOU. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  24. ^ "Grammy Award Winning Che "Rhymefest" & Activist Jasiri X Form Super Hip-Hop Duo "Kill Switch"". sankofa.org. Archived from the original on 2017-02-20. Retrieved 2017-03-14.

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