BEATS AND GREENS

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hip Hop Culture.with DJ CAVEM

Watch the full episode. See more Studio 12.


Program: Studio 12
Episode: Hip Hop Culture Host Tamara Banks takes a look at the Hip Hop culture's influence on American society and globally in music, language, clothing and entertainment.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Communicating. Awareness. Victoriously. Educating. the Masses.


Firstly, to your performing name, DJ Cavem. You selected it very carefully,
with it representing the acronym
Communicating Awareness Victoriously Educating the Masses.
Can you explain further your intent with your
artistry?

I come from an activist background, a family of artists and black panthers.
My mother is Ashara Ekundayo, she has founded her own poetry event
entitled Café Nuba that has been going on for 11 years in Denver. She
is a great community activist and has sculpted me to be an entrepreneur,
artist, activist and socially aware lover of Stevie Wonder. The first
HIPHOP album I owned was Arrested Development because of her.


I consider myself to be in tune with HIPHOP culture, which has an
acronym stay true to…Higher Inner Peace, Helping Other People. The
vision of HIPHOP has been distorted now. Although I was only born in
1986, I grew up listening to the founding fathers of HIPHOP, like Afrika
Bambaata, KRS ONE, Rakim and James Brown. When I listened to the
radio, the mainstream music that was supposed to represent HIPHOP,
I didn’t feel the same energy. I didn’t feel uplifted or called to action.
I recognize now that the young generation does not have access to
knowledge, wisdom and understanding or sustainability through music.
What I mean by that, they are not learning about the basics; food, clothing,
shelter and respect for this environment and everything living in it. I grew
up adopting all elements of HIPHOP. One in particular was Breakdancing
and B-Boying. I have used this knowledge to also reach youth, teaching
them health and wellness and the connection between mind and body. To
maintain a healthy mind and body, you must consume consciously, that
means eating right and surrounding yourself with positive images, music,
energy and people.

The single “Wheat Grass”, from your latest album “The Teacher’s
Lounge”, won second place in Green For All’s “2010 Dream Reborn” art
contest. How do you incorporate eco-messages into your works while
keeping them engaging and without them becoming “preachy” or “finger-
wagging”?

Wheat Grass was inspired by the work I was doing last summer, teaching
youth the foundation of sustainability; growing food, waste diversion,
composting, and health awareness. My previous album Deep Rokc (2008)
featured the group Dead Prez who are also socially conscious vegan
vegetarians. Stic.man from the group came to town to record a conscious
mixtape for Denver’s Sisters of Color United for Change Annual Soul’d
Roots event. So it was natural for me to ask him to jump on the track. As
far as Doodlebug from Digable Planets, he’s a good friend of mine in this
movement, I dig his eclectic, conscious style in music and knew he’d be a
good fit for the song.


Honestly, it’s hard to not preach and sound like I’m lecturing because
of how passionate I am and how urgent this situation is. I work with
youth who enjoy mainstream media, so I am aware of the language and
frequency they are attracted to. In addition to being an emcee I am also a
producer, creating beats and music for my messages. I use this knowledge
of what the youth like and transform it into an Eco-conscious club banger.
When people hear songs, it’s the beat and music that draws them in,
the words usually come second. If I can get their ear with the sound,
the rest is easy. I am currently producing a new album, I’ve just finished
recording the first single called “Let It Grow” a tribute to sustainability
in the community, which will be available for streaming on my website,
djcavem.com, January 2011.

In addition to being a DJ, MC and poet, you work as an educator with
Blue and Yellow Logic, a social enterprise that has the tagline “It takes
more than one color to make green”. Despite only being launched in
May last year, it already has an impressive list of achievements (http:/
involved as a team member and how do you fulfill your role as an “Eco-
Cultivator”?

I was asked to be a part of this organization because of my knowledge
on health and veganism, organic food gardening and my passion for and
experience in educating youth. Due to my age I am able to bridge the
generational gaps that can sometimes stifle communication. I try to bring a
fresh approach to getting youth involved and engaged, making it hip to be
healthy and green.

I founded the Brown Suga Youth Fest back in 2004, an event that brought
together youth, homeopathic practitioners, yogis, HIPHOP artists, writers,
b-boys and exciters to engage in intergenerational dialogue. My phrase
Going Green Living started off as a title for a panel discussion about how
to communicate health and awareness through HIPHOP. I have found that
when introducing these new ideas to people, you must first redefine their
image of what wealth truly is. This led to the “Going Green Living Bling;
Redefining the image of wealth” workshop series.

While working with Blue and Yellow Logic, myself and my wife, Neambe
LeadonVita, were inspired to create the title of Eco-cultivator. As Eco-
cultivators we have designed and implemented a curriculum that fits the
idea of Going Green Living Bling. We have provided workshops for other
organizations such as YouthBiz, Peace Jam, Urban Farming and The
GrowHaus, as well as several Denver schools. I have also taken this idea
national putting together and moderating a panel for the Denver Green
Festival and speaking at both the San Francisco and Chicago Green
Festivals, as well as creating the Going Green Living Bling Panel for
the 2010 Biennial of the Americas. We will also be featured on PBS in
January for the community work we are doing. Our next big project will be
starting up in January, it is in collaboration with other North East Denver
organizations and is going to improve the community through youth
engagement. I have plans to expand the Going Green Living Bling idea
using my training from the Good Jobs Green Jobs conference in D.C., the
PowerVote Environmental Awareness conference in Chicago and through
my new fellowship with Green For All where I will be putting together
a series of events, and workshops to engage and activate community
members of all ages.

You were recently featured in Breeze Harper’s Sistah Vegan Project. How
long have you been vegan, what brought you to veganism, and how do
you approach the idea of educating others about veganism?

I met Breeze Harper at the November 2009 Green Festival after a Queen
Afua lecture. I had mentioned that my wife was pregnant and vegan and
that we had intentions on doing an unassisted home birth. Breeze came
up to me afterward letting me know that she had done exactly as we had
planned. We have stayed in contact and since sat on a panel together
at the April 2010 Green Festival. She is a good friend and we share the
same focus; activating people to remember their ancestral diets coming
from a tropical climate equating to more fruits and vegetables. I include
her book in my workshops, I feel it speaks directly to the community I work
with.

I have been vegan now for 10 years, being vegetarian for 3 years before
that; it was first introduced to me by my mother. Vegetarian food never
seemed different to me; I never thought “where’s the meat?”. My wife is
a vegan, she has been for about 2 years, vegetarian before that. She
was throughout her entire pregnancy. Our daughter, Empress Selasia
is here, she is now 8 months old and is extremely healthy and alert as a
vegan baby. I use my personal life to motivate others. Growing food with
and cooking food for people is a huge part of my workshops. I also try to
provide information on homeopathic remedies, with food being the best
and most important medicine anyone can take. Again, I try to redefine
the image of what real food is, taking youth to a community garden, to a
grocery store and showing them documentaries about the scary truths of
our food industry.

You are also a father. What hopes do you have for the next generation?

I hope to have five more children with my wife Neambe. We plan on
leaving a legacy of organic farming and community action for them
to continue. It is our hope that they are able to enjoy the beauties
of this wonderful planet. It is our hope that our work and the work of
environmental and social activists everywhere has transformed the
mentality of future generations to the point where respecting each other
and mother earth comes naturally.

THE O.G. (Organic Gardener)


I am a new Green For All Fellow, I received this award because of my workshop series entitled “Going Green Living Bling: Redefining the Image of Wealth”. I have been actively teaching youth organic gardening in an urban setting, growing various crops from corn to gourds for instruments. I understand how to interact with young people, doing my best to shift my way of thinking to match theirs.I feel I understand the culture, I recognize the struggle and I want to be a part of the movement to bring change to our future thinking. I feel I understand the culture, I recognize the struggle and I want to be a part of the movement to bring change to our future thinking. I am a new father, African American male.

I bring to this project, knowledge of African culture and knowledge of being of African decent growing up in America. I come from a family of sharecroppers, I am currently an O.G. (Organic Gardener), and I am skilled in videography and photography. I work well in small and large groups. I make an excellent facilitator as well as student. I have an artistic background and have learned to utilize my talents to reach people of various ages, and cultural backgrounds. I am skilled in homeopathic medicine and remedies, and if necessary I can deliver a baby, having brought my own into the world. I create graphic design art and social media promotional tools, so I have knowledge behind getting word to the masses if there is a need on our journey. I am a musician and poet, bringing entertainment and moments of meditative breaks in this work that is most times serious. I bring all of these talents and skills that make me a multi-dimensioned individual. I bring my life experiences, having redirected my path from one of an unknown future to the present, where I am teaching and sharing my gifts in a positive way. Traveling to Africa is very powerful for me. It is the place that motivated the change in my life. It shifted my values, my beliefs and my goals. I am now dedicated to speaking for the people who need it most. I strive to maintain a positive outlook and attitude toward life and it's challenges and I will bring this attribute to the project. I bring my experience in agriculture and my love for all things living.

If I knew I could not fail, I would continue work with my Brown Suga Youth and Holistic Health Festival, expanding it through the state of Colorado and then the country. I would then take it abroad, starting with rural communities and populations with high rates of illness. I would invite the Dali Lama to speak to my community. I would write grants for every organization that I believe in. I would create housing for impoverished and homeless youth. Giving them spaces to grow food, learn life skills and connect with other youth. I would put together a farmer's market for my community and the other communities of color that are food deserts. Giving local gardeners, cooks and craftsmen/women a place to sell their goods. I would raise funding to help families obtain solar, wind and water harnessing mechanisms for their homes. I would push my innovative ideas in the grant I have become a part of called the Youth Engagement Zone, whose focus is to teach and support youth over 3 years to improve their academic and social situations. Thinking outside of the box and trying new ideas to reach our youth. If I knew I could not fail, I would work to have a garden planted at every school possible, so that children may enjoy watching things grow and have fresh cooked, healthy meals. I would also begin giving classes in vegan cooking to people looking to cleanse their bodies or improve their dietary habits.