AR-15: Jus Rhyme & Raw Potential
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AR-15: Jus Rhyme & Raw Potential

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The best kept secret in music

Press


"Middlebrook and Wysling motivate people to be aware of inequalities and support efforts to change them..." - Nicole Jacques, Staff Writer - Battle Creek Equirer, 11/16/04


"The duo...used their music and the audiences' creativity to explore issues of race, privilege, and justice." - Andrew Wind, Staff Writer - Waterloo Courier, 9/8/04


"...AR-15, which stands for 'AntiRacist Fifteen,' met in 1998 while members of the national service program AmeriCorps. They’ve been performing together as AR-15 since 2003, dedicating themselves to 15 anti-racist principles and donating 25 percent of their income to racial justice work." - The List - Kitsap Sun, 3/24/06


L.A.-based duo AR-15 used the lunch hour on Tuesday to preach anti-racism at OC's Student Center.

BREMERTON, WA

AR-15 didn’t deviate much from standard hip-hop fare at its lunchroom gig, Tuesday at Olympic College.

There was plenty of self-promotion ("This is how we do it. It’s AR-15 music"), talk about race and shout-outs to the home front. If you missed the introduction, the duo made it clear while sampling Tupac Shakur’s "California Love," that they were from Los Angeles.

But instead of singing about livin’ in a plush crib, driving a Mercedes and sporting a flashy grill, the band dropped working-class lyrics stemming from the theme of calling for a social and political change, or to "flip the system."

"Rich folks got OPP," they rapped. "Other people’s property."

AR-15 — an acronym for Anti-Racist, with 15 principles for social, economic and ecological justice — is the brainchild of Trevor Wysling, aka Raw Potential, and Jeb Middlebrook, aka Jus Rhyme, who bill themselves as "Raptavists." Topics dished on at the group’s 45-minute set included the prison system, the president and immigration.

The name AR-15 is a play off of the popular firearm. The duo see their AR-15 as weapon for anti-racism.

"We’re all immigrants," Middlebrook told the crowd of snackers, noting the exception of Native Americans. "Otherwise, we’ve been brought here against our will."

Middlebrook and Wysling — a native of Prosser — met in southern California, working for AmeriCorps in 1998. After witnessing social injustice in the towns they visited with AmeriCorps, they decided their vehicle for change would be music.

The two play a handful of shows each year around the country. With an album planned for the summer, the group expects to beef up its touring schedule.

As white artists, the duo is something of a minority in its own right, working in a genre traditionally dominated by black rappers.

"There are spots for white kids in social change," Wysling said.

As much as AR-15’s message is a detour from the MTV-sponsored brand of rap, Middlebrook told the crowd not to dismiss gangster rap. Aside from some problems, he said artists in the genre are toting an important message. In fact, Middlebrook, a PHD student at the University of Southern California, said his dissertation is on the relationship between gangster rap and the prison system.

Tuesday’s performance was one of several lunchtime entertainment acts OC has planned through end of the school year. Other events include R&B singer Chniua Hawk on Tuesday and a poetry slam on April 13.

The show closed with a short question and answer segment, where the duo fielded questions regarding their musical influences and where students could learn more about getting involved with the social change the group pitched. Middlebrook pointed students toward the group’s Web site and bands they consider socially conscious, such as Audioslave, Coldplay and U2.

Ian Ramos, 22, caught the last two songs of the band’s set. He’s not into rap, and wouldn’t normally go out of his way to hear hip-hop. But he said he enjoyed hearing AR-15’s shtick while he poured over his math homework.

"I can appreciate the fact of what they’re trying to do," Ramos said. "They actually talk about important things in life. I will have to give them ... their props." - Christopher Kornelis, Features Writer, CKORNELIS@KITSAPSUN.COM

A SAMPLE OF AR-15's LYRICS

From "John Brown"

For all the past ancestors that battled the cage
White, black, and brown folk
White-bred and town folk, righteous, united to fight,
Let’s get down folk
Got our fists closed and our mouths "O" - Kitsap Sun, 4/1/06


"AR-15 performed and showcased their revolutionary, conscious rhymes. They performed songs like 'Ballot or Bullet,' based off the revolutionary speech by Malcolm X. Their songs centered on unity in the community. Their slogan is 'Flip the System' and the crowd gave them a special welcome."- Myron McNeill, Writer - The Current, The University of Missouri- St. Louis Student Newspaper, 5/1/06


"Raptivists" Jus Rhyme and Raw Potential will make their first appearance in Washington at Olympic College on Tuesday, March 28 as the rap group, AR-15.

The name AR-15 stands for "AntiRacist Fifteen"- a set of principles that guides the group in challenging individual and institutional practices of white privilege.

"We are making the statement with music that anyone can make the world a better place for everyone," said Raw Potential. "White folks can work against racism, men can work against sexism, middle-class folks can work against classism. This work can heal some of the biggest wounds in our communities."

Raw Potential returns to his home state with this tour date. He grew up in the Tri-Cities area and now resides in Los Angeles with Jus Rhyme. The two met through Americorps in California in 1998, and in their community work began to recognize privileges they had that others did not.

In 2003, Raw and Jus came together as AR-15 and focused on using their privileges and passions for rap to support work for social justice.

Catch AR-15 at Olympic College (1600 Chester Ave., Bremerton) on Tuesday, March 28th from 11:30AM-12:30PM. More info: http://www.AR15entertainment.com - Bremerton Patriot, 3/25/06


"I doubt whether too many artists would say they support racism, but how many of them are willing to put their money where their mouth is: their name. AR-15 is a California rap duo whose name stands for the 15 anti-racist principles that guide the group. Name checking everyone from the Weathermen to Harper’s Ferry on the track “John Brown” might not seem like an obvious path to hip-hop stardom, but their radical politics are not so far removed from what most left-leaning hip-hop fans believe; they’re just a little more vocal about it...no one can deny that their goal is a worthy one, and with so many white rappers trying to play the rap game by out-gangstering each other, it’s refreshing to hear a group with their heads squarely on their shoulders and their eyes on a distinct prize." - Neil Grecco, Writer - Pulse of the Twin Cities, 2/22/06


This Sunday, activist orgs Inland Empire Hardcore and Axis of Justice Inland Empire (formed by Tom Morello of Audioslave and Serj Tankian of System of a Down) present...an all-ages youth music forum to promote solutions to violence and to encourage more youth involvement in the community building process.

Making the point that social awareness and fun are fantastic bedfellows, the event features live hip-hop and punk from AR-15 (Anti-Racist Fifteen), Broken Society, Malice of Forethought, the Cabookies, Sars and the Kickmes, No Reform, the Rejekted, Ben Stewart (of Conspiracy of Thought) and Rebels to the Grain.

The two white guys who make up headliner AR-15 derive their name from 15 anti-racist principles that guide the rap group to “flip the system,” i.e., use privilege to support social justice work led by people from the community (the seeming antithesis of the popular assault rifle AR-15).

This political rap duo parties their way to social justice with a raucous mix of club anthems and street chants—think the Beastie Boys meets Public Enemy. All profits go to Food Not Bombs Riverside, a volunteer-operated non-profit organization that provides food, clothing and other daily living supplies to the homeless.

Join the Axis of Justice and pals to “raise awareness and mobilize volunteers for social justice and inclusive, peaceful political dialogue through art, music and other types of creative expression”—a helluvalot more productive than bellyaching.

AT SCHOONERS, 1280 E. Washington Ave., Colton, CA www.AR15entertainment.com. www.axisofjustice.org/sanbernardino/; www.myspace.com/inlandempirehardcore. Sun., 1-6 p.m. All ages. - Anna Hirsch, Staff Writer - IE Weekly, 6/1/06


PEACE FEST 2006: Groups use the Web, music and politically-charged art to tackle community crime.

A loose-knit network of social activists and musicians is reaching out to teenagers throughout the Inland area via Internet discussion boards, punk-rock and hip-hop concerts.

The message is the same, whether it's relayed in online posts, guitar riffs or rhymes: You can make a difference.

"It's a good way of organizing -- you have a message? Let's have a show," said Ariel Muro, a 22-year-old Riverside Community College student who heads the Riverside/San Bernardino chapter of Axis of Justice, a nonprofit group that mixes socio-political messages with music.

Axis of Justice is one of several local organizations hosting Peace Fest 2006 on Saturday at the Norman Feldheym Library in San Bernardino. Along with hip-hop and politically-charged art, the free, all-ages event will feature an open discussion of how young people can help make violence-plagued communities like San Bernardino safer.

Organizers say such shows -- and the online word-of-mouth promoting them -- tap into young people's desire to do something about racism, poverty and other social ills.

They also mix the lure of live music with the organizing power of the Internet, organizers say.
Young people "don't want to do the whole adult political thing, get dressed nice and talk politics," said Randall Lopez, who heads Inland Empire Hardcore, which has been organizing such shows for about three years.

"If we don't give them a positive outlet, they're going to find their own outlet with violence and vandalism -- just like what happened with the National Orange Show riots" in March. Fans at a punk show at the San Bernardino venue rioted when police responded to reports of a stabbing.

Both Inland Empire Hardcore and Axis of Justice spread the word about upcoming events on their own Web sites, including on MySpace.com.

The Web site was the primary tool used by high school students nationwide to organize pro-immigration rallies across the country last month.

"Every kid has their own personal computer. That's how you get through to them," Muro said.

Lopez, 38, who teaches special-needs children in Rancho Cucamonga, said most of the teens who come to shows are under 18, so they cannot vote. But he said they can make a difference in their communities by organizing informational campaigns and food drives, volunteering with churches and nonprofits or spreading awareness about issues like immigration by talking with their friends.

Organizers pay for events like the Peace Fest either out of pocket, through gate receipts or donations.

The events help raise money for Food Not Bombs, which distributes vegetarian food to people throughout the U.S.

Muro, who founded the group's Inland chapter a year and a half ago, said it feeds as many as 40 people every Sunday at Fairmount Park in Riverside.

Most of the 10 regular volunteers are local high-school students, she said.

"The high-school students are really stepping up," she said. "It gives you hope for the future.
Lopez said about 50 people came to the groups' most recent event earlier this month at Schooner's Restaurant in San Bernardino.

Rapper Jeb Middlebrook -- aka "Jus Rhyme" -- of Los Angeles-based hip-hop act AR-15, said some who attend Peace Fest are there for the music.

Others are more open to the social and political issues being discussed, he said.

"People are in different places in terms of wanting to receive a message," Middlebrook said. "We meet people where they're at."- Gregor McGavin, Reporter

Reach Gregor McGavin at 909-806-3069 or gmcgavin@PE.com - The Press-Enterprise, 6/22/06


“..no bull, radical hip-hop: the kind that has the potential to redefine what it means to be white in the rap game." - Tim Wise, National Lecturer and Anti-Racist Activist

"I would recommend AR-15 to any non-profit organization, school, or venue that is looking for an educational and entertaining program that grounds itself in principles of and for social justice. The world needs more artists like AR-15!" - Lian Cheun, Field Director, Center for Third World Organizing*

“…shout out about AR-15! Listen, I have used these guys for White Privilege Conference 6 and 7! They are phenomenal! They are fun, energetic, creative and hard working! These guys have delivered for me year after year and I strongly suggest you add them to your list! They will do good work and folks will be happy with their work.” – Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., Founder of the White Privilege Conference

“They are awesome! Someone needs to get them in the real rap game." - Dr. Na'im Akbar, Clinical Faculty; Psychology Department, Florida State University

“I call them abolitionists. And the struggle needs abolitionists.” - J.W. Wiley, Director of the Center for Diversity, Pluralism, & Inclusion

“I really respect & appreciate the work you both do (plus, the music & rhymes are solid).” - Dan Berger, author of Letters From Young Activists: Today’s Rebel’s Speak Out (Nation Books, 2005).

“You both have a lot to offer...” – Ilaria Pesco, Director of Student Leadership & Involvement Center, University of Redlands, Redlands, CA

"I am really enjoying your lyrics and music!...and hope that you can join us on the campaign trail." - Lynda Hernandez, Campaign Coordinator, Green Party Representative Donna Warren for Lieutenant Governor of CA

“Thank you again for all that you do, teach, and learn.” – Jessica Pettitt, Social Justice & Diversity Consultant & Facilitator, Phoenix, AZ

“Yo, I’m very impressed and inspired by your work…I am moved.” - Jesse Schmidt, Animation Director, Studiotree Multimedia; Toronto, Canada*

“I really like the look and mission of your business and appreciate what you are doing.” Stephen Burke, CMO, MBuzzy.com

“…we were so impressed with your leadership and your music.” - Greg, Lisa, and Noah Coffman, Indianapolis, IN*

"You're just what the rap game needs…" - Will Felten aka Billy Buckets, Austin, MN*

"MAY GOD BLESS YOUR MOVEMENT!" - Devon Dabney, Atlanta, GA*

“…you two talk about something real." - Tricia M., Albion, MI*

“props to you guys…for real I have mad respect for anyone who is out there working to teach truth and tolerance.” Kim Ryan, Los Angeles, CA


*Some Expanded Quotes (from above)

"CTWO is a racial justice organization led by people of color whose mission is to achieve social and economic justice. Our organization was honored to host the rap group, AR-15, at our annual fundraiser in December 2005 to help raise money for our non-profit programs. AR-15 was a perfect fit for our organization. As two white rappers committed to racial justice, AR-15 demonstrates leadership in the white community against racism and white supremacy. As straight men, they show leadership by taking a stand against sexism and heterosexism. Their foundational message is that anyone can help make the world better for everyone by 'flipping the system', or using one’s privileges and passions to support work for justice led by people from the community. Their poetry and presence demonstrates solidarity with women, queer folks, people of color and poor people who fight for a more just world. I would recommend AR-15 to any non-profit organization, school, or venue that is looking for an educational and entertaining program that grounds itself in principles of and for social justice. The world needs more artists like AR-15!" - Lian Cheun, Field Director, Center for Third World Organizing

“It was great meeting you both this weekend. Our six year old son, Noah, danced with Traci's Urban Jamm Saturday…He is biracial and a huge fan of hip-hop. I don't know if you are parents, but I'm sure you can appreciate the challenge of us trying to let him enjoy hip-hop but ensure he is not listening to misogynistic, racist, violent and just plain trifling stuff. We were so impressed with your leadership and your music. This weekend was so powerful for him, getting to perform on stage and hearing hip-hop from a white group was an invaluable experience. We will definitely be purchasing your music and should you ever get to Indianapolis - would come out to see you.”- Greg, Lisa, and Noah Coffman, Indianapolis, IN

“Yo, I’m very impressed and inspired by your work. I as well am white and have grown up listening to conscious hip-hop. I as well am strongly against racism, and looking for positive opportunities to empower minorities, and to make the majority think more. My half brother is black, and it gave me some insight into the world of racism at an early age. Something that has stayed with me forever - Various Authors


Discography

AR-15. "Flip the System- The Mixtape." 2006.
AR-15. "John Brown." Single. 2005.
AR-15. "E.B.T.B.: Everything But the Burden." EP. 2004.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

National lecturer and anti-racist activist, Tim Wise, calls AR-15 "…no bull, radical hip-hop: the kind that has the potential to redefine what it means to be white in the rap game.”

Growing up, AR-15 rappers Jus Rhyme and Raw Potential lived the American Dream. They met in California in 1998 and witnessed an American Nightmare - poor white, black, and brown communities struggling to make it against wealthy elites and brutal police. Fueled by these realities, Jus and Raw imagined a new American Dream with their rhymes and activism. What would it look like if they used their time and money to support work for social justice led by people that experience social injustice? Their answer was AR-15.

The name AR-15 stands for fifteen anti-racist principles that guide the rap group to “flip the system”- or use time and money to support racial justice organizing led by people of color. AR-15 is walking the talk in the hip-hop underground, earning over $24,000 in gigs through independent promotion since 2004 and donating 25% of their income to racial justice organizing.

AR-15 is featured in the film “Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible” (World Trust, 2006) and the book “Other People’s Property: A Shadow History of Hip-Hop in White America” (Bloomsbury, 2007).

They have received media coverage from City Pages and Pulse of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN); The San Bernardino Sun (San Bernardino, CA); The Waterloo Courier (Waterloo, IA); On the Edge (Madison, WI); The Kitsap Sun and the Bremerton Patriot (Bremerton, WA); The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA); IE Weekly (Corona, CA); The Current (St. Louis, MO); Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, MI); KATZ 100.3 The Beat (St. Louis, MO); and Radio K 770AM The Beatbox (Minneapolis, MN).

AR-15 has worked with national recording artists Atmosphere, KRS-One, dead prez, and The Coup, and has been sought after by Def Jam Entertainment. They have shared the stage with Tommy the Clown and the Hip-Hop Clowns from the movie RIZE, and have been featured presenters for the White Privilege Conference (Pella, IA and St. Louis, MO), the Conference on Understanding Whiteness (South Hadley, MA), and the National Resource Center for the Healing of Racism (Battlecreek, MI).

They have performed for thousands of people around the U.S. at colleges, high schools, state capitols, amphitheaters, book stores, theaters, libraries, restaurants and clubs; and have provided consistent financial support for community organizations working toward racial justice.

ALSO WORKED WITH

*Schools*
Edgewood College, Madison, WI
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
University of Missouri- St. Louis, MO
University of California- Berkeley, CA
University of Minnesota- Minneapolis, MN
University of Wisconsin- Madison, WI
Olivet College, Albion, MI
Macalester College, St. Paul, MN
Olympic College, Bremerton, WA
California State University, Fullerton, CA
Hawkeye Community College, Waterloo, IA
Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA
Central College, Pella, IA
The Branson School, Ross, CA
Austin High School, Austin, MN
Battle Creek High School, Battle Creek, MI
Albion High School, Albion, MI

*Venues*
BB Kings, Los Angeles, CA
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis, MN
Sweets Ballroom, Oakland, CA
Loring Pasta Bar, Minneapolis, MN
Kelly's Mission Rock, San Francisco, CA
Bauen Camp, Sheridan, WY
Hollywood Renaissance Hotel, Hollywood, CA
Double Tree, Atlanta, GA
La Pena Cultural Center, Berkeley, CA
Civic Center Park Amphitheater, Palm Desert, CA
Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR
Oakland Metro, Oakland, CA
Spiraling Orchard Park, Los Angeles, CA
Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis, MN
Destiny Arts Center, Oakland, CA
First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
Kezar Pavilion, San Francisco, CA
Timeout, Concord, CA
Bon Appetit, Minneapolis, MN
Schooner’s, Colton, CA
Feldheym Library, San Bernardino, CA
Minnesota State Capitol, St. Paul, MN
Oakland Box, Oakland, CA
Patrick's Caberet, Minneapolis, MN
Revolution Books, Berkeley, CA
Hyatt Regency, Atlanta, GA
Mercado La Paloma, Los Angeles, CA

*Organizations*
Green Party
October 22nd Coalition, Los Angeles, CA
Challenging White Supremacy Workshop, San Francisco, CA
Center for Third World Organizing, Oakland, CA
ACORN, Madison, WI
Immigrant Freedom Network, Minneapolis, MN
People’s Institute, New Orleans, LA
Art Community Land Activism, LA, CA
National Resource Center for the Healing of Racism, Battle Creek, MI
Communities United Against Police Brutality, Minneapolis, MN
Welfare Rights Coalition, Minneapolis, MN
Axis of Justice, San Bernardino, CA

BOOKING INFORMATION

SpeakOut - Emeryville, CA
Booking Agent: Felicia Gustin
Phone: 510-601-0182
Email: info@speakoutnow.org