The OneBeat Podcast

Justin Harrington

Episode Summary

This candid conversation dives into the richness and diversity of Black culture through the lens of the banjo-playing hip-hop artist, Justin Harrington (A.K.A Demeanor). In the episode, Justin breaks down the influences that have shaped his musical expression, from the African Akonting to Kendrick Lamar, and he shares how the BLM Movement has impacted his life and work as a community organizer in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Episode Notes

“How do we bridge the gap between protesters and the artists? How do we bring this all into one consolidated effort?”

In the OneBeat Podcast’s second episode, we connect with 2019 OneBeat Fellow Justin Harrington (a.k.a Demeanor); a 23-year old banjo-playing rapper from Greensboro, North Carolina. The conversation follows his journey into the seemingly separate worlds of old-time music and hip hop, and he breaks down a range of diverse musical influences spanning from the African Akonting to Kendrick Lamar. The episode charts the course of Justin’s growth as an artist and organizer, diving into the impact that the Black Lives Matter Movement has had on Harrington’s life and work; inspiring him to launch a protest music festival in the summer of 2020, and subsequently, his own nonprofit organization, Haus of Lacks

Produced and Edited by Jeremy Thal & Nyokabi Kariuki

Mixed by Jeremy Thal & Zubin Hensler

Additional Story Editing by Charlotte Gartenberg 

Executive Producers: Jeremy Thal, Elena Moon Park, and Kyla-Rose Smith

Featuring: Justin Harrington and Savannah Leigh Thorne 

Music by Demeanor 

Additional music: 

Sweatpants” by Childish Gambino

Overcomer” by Royce Da 5’9 Ft. Westside Gunn

The Blacker The Berry” by Kendrick Lamar

Fast Lane” by Bad Meets Evil

Find a full playlist here.

Episode Transcription


“But I really brought the banjo into hip hop the same way that I brought the content that I was rapping about into hip hop. Just like yo, this is just who I am, and I'm just opening my soul up onto this record.”

Music Interlude: “Yeah Yeah”, from OneBeat 2017 Mixtape

Elena: Hello, and welcome to episode 2 of the OneBeat Podcast. My name is Elena Moon Park. 

Kyla: And I’m Kyla-Rose Smith. Today we’re handing over hosting duties to our assistant producer, Nyokabi Kariuki 

Nyokabi: Hi everyone!

Kyla: Nyokabi had a fascinating conversation with young rapper, producer and banjo player, Justin Harrington.

Elena: Justin, A.K.A. Demeanor, is from Greensboro, North Carolina and was a Fellow of the OneBeat program in 2019. He also happens to be the nephew of renowned singer and banjo player Rhiannon Giddens. 

Kyla: In this candid conversation, Justin breaks down the influences that have shaped his musical expression, from West African string music to Kendrick Lamar. He shares how the Black Lives Matter Movement inspired him to launch his own organization and music festival.

Elena: And despite his young age of 23 years, Justin has such a clear sense of purpose, not only as an artist but as an activist and as a human being. 

Kyla: So, let’s turn things over to Nyokabi and Justin.

Justin: So yeah, we can do like a, like a, alright and action. So we can like link them up later.

Nyokabi: [Laughs]. Do you want to count us in?

Justin: Yeah. Alright. Um, 10, nine, eight, seven, six. You want to do a drum roll five, four, three, two, one. And we're live.

Sound Effect: Drum Roll

Music Interlude: “I Been Tryin” by Demeanor ft. Bluejay

Nyokabi: Let's get right into it. You're a hip hop artist who plays the banjo. Like what's, what's up with that? How did that happen?

Justin: Well it started cause I'm from North Carolina, um, where banjos are relatively common. Um, not so much common in Black spaces, but I had the privilege of being born to a family of really talented musicians and my aunt, um, she got into contra dances and square dances and old time, you know, fiddle tunes and banjo music.

Music Underscore: Folklore Society of Greater Washington Contra Dance

And I would travel with her to various, like, old-time festivals, you know, and little concerts that she would do. And I would hop on stage and do a little bit of a shuffle, a little dance. And as I got older, just growing up with that music, I just wanted to get involved. So I started playing the fiddle first, like classical violin, and I just hated it. It didn't have the type of, like, rhythm that I wanted.

And, uh, one day my aunt had come back from, I think it was Ghana and she had a, a gourd banjo in this hotel room and this random, whatever city we were in for whatever music festival, I was just like, yo you gotta teach me this, like this sounds great. It didn't sound like the banjos that I was used to hearing. It had, like, a really lower tone. It was more like plucking a cello than the twangy banjo that I was used to. I just kind of fell in love with it. 

And then, when I'd go out on the road with my aunt, it'd be like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia. And when I was home, all we listened to, you know, was Lil Wayne and Ludacris and hip hop. And I grew up and my dad put me on to Black Thought and the Fugees and Jay-Z and Kanye.

So, um, I always just kinda bounced between hip hop and old-time music. And I decided one day to just put them together. And you know, it's been, what's the saying it's, it's history ever since or whatever, but yeah, now I'm here.

Music Interlude: “Ol Joe” By Demeanor

Nyokabi: What’s interesting to me about all of this, Justin, is that I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, and I would never have guessed that the origins of the banjo were African.  

Justin: The thing is it's not, it's not one instrument. It's descended from a lot of different instruments. You know, there were all these like gourd instruments in Africa, you know, pre-slave trade. Basically what happens is, uh, people come over...well, they’re forcefully taken to America and they start building these instruments again. And eventually they started changing it a little bit, like using wood instead of gourd and using, like, goatskin heads and stuff. And, that's where the American banjo was kind of formed.

Nyokabi: And why was it important for you to combine old time music and hip hop in the music you write?

Justin: Honestly for me combining the genres, was more about just kind of making a point that genre doesn't even really exist. It was definitely me, you know, molding together my, two-sided background as I was growing up. Because hip hop is, that's what, that's, what it is. Hip hop is a rhythm and poetry, it's the, it's the soundscape of our environment, and that environment is not a monolith. There are so many different sounds, and voices, and spirits, you know, so how can we merge them all and see what picture that paints?

It’s funny — if you look at, if you go to my website, the first thing you see is in big letters, rap is folk. It's just the music of the people. It's the music that is passed down. It is the music that represents your ancestry. It's the music that you don't have to go to Juilliard to learn. It's the music that you grew up around. [Right.] And so when that's the definition, it's like, yo rap is one of the illest folk musics of all time. Instead of playing it on the porch, you know, they were playing it on the stoop.

Nyokabi: Yeah so, give it to me. Who are some of the hip hop artists who've influenced your work the most? 

Justin: Oh, okay. I can give you my Holy Trinity because within hip hop, our Holy, the like, overarching, Holy Trinity is of course like Biggie, Tupac and Jay Z. You know. For me, it was definitely Childish Gambino to start. 

Music: “Sweatpants” By Childish Gambino

Justin: Um, he was the first rapper that was vulnerable in a way that I could fundamentally relate to. [Mhmm]. And the way that he had no problem being different. Um, Childish Gambino, and then Kendrick Lamar. Oh my goodness. The best rapper of all time. 

Nyokabi: Yes, yes!

Music: “The Blacker The Berry” by Kendrick Lamar

Justin: And then Royce DA 5’9” like just lyrically, you know, such a powerhouse. 

Music: “Overcomer” by Royce Da 5’9 Ft. Westside Gunn

So those are really my three, the three that I would identify as having influenced the way that I write, not just my sound, but the way that I structure my songs.

But then, you know, our honorable mentions are like, Vic Mensa, and uh, Chance the Rapper, and uh, Rexx Life Raj, and uh...Oh, and I'm in love with the UK scene right now. Oh my goodness!

Justin: It's like Stormzy— 

Nyokabi: Like Skepta, uh huh!

Justin: And Skepta, all the, like all the basic ones, you know, like everyone knows about those guys, but those are, I'm loving it.

Music Interlude: “A1” by Demeanor

Nyokabi: So I’ve been listening a lot to your album ‘O Henry’, and I can definitely hear the influences of Royce da 5’9” to Kendrick Lamar. Can you tell us about that album and the process of creating it?

Justin: Man, that album was so, was such a journey from start to finish. So it, it started with this guy, Gabriel Clausen, and he just sends me an email one day and he's like, ‘yo, you want to make an album?’ [Laughs] I'd never heard of this guy. Like, I didn't know, you know, but, I’d just go to his like studio that he has built in his apartment, I brought my banjo and we didn't start with a plan. And so I would just lay banjo licks and chord progressions and just random stuff, and he would sample it like we were in the nineties. Then I would just start rapping. A lot of my vocals that you hear on that album were not recorded over to the beat that you're hearing. They were just recorded maybe to only the drum break or maybe to only the banjo. So a lot of the music on the album was constructed around the vocals. [Right]. And so I didn't know what half of these songs were going to sound like until they were done. 

Nyokabi: What’s interesting about the album is that it’s not just rap throughout, you know, there’s tracks of just solo banjo under a beat, and tracks of you just speaking ‘normally’. So why did you decide to vary the album like that?

Justin: Um, all of those instrumental tracks are old, old-time records that I learned from my aunt from back in the day. So it was, it felt like I had to have them represented as I'm talking about my background. I had to provide the soundscape of the context to what I was talking about. And, um, we wanted to then like sample them and add that hip hop production around it. And I think those records came out really cool. Actually the one called “Cluck Ol’ Hen” is like my most streamed song, which is so hilarious. Cause I feel like I rap so much better than I play the banjo, but I'll take it.

Music Underscore: “Cluck Ol’ Hen” By Demeanor

And then at the end of the album, um, he just interviewed me and then we just chopped up my answers and interspersed them through the album.

Audio Clip (‘The Way I Play’ from O Henry): “The way I play banjo is, um, descended from like the African style of playing some of the Banjo as, ancestral instruments, like the Akonting, it’s called clawhammer.”

Audio Clip (‘What Are You Writing?’ from O Henry): “My grandpa used to always ask me that  every time I see him, he’s like, “are you still writing what are you writing now?”

Audio Clip (‘Black Boy with an Attitude’’ from O Henry): “So I’d always like, listen to hiphop, ‘cause I just am hip-hop, I guess. You know what I mean? Like, Black boy in the South, with an attitude, c’mon.”

It would have been a hard listen, if it was just boom, rap, rap, rap, rap, rap, rap, rap, rap, banjo, banjo, banjo, rap, rap, rap, rap, banjo, banjo, rap, rap, rap, you know, like I didn't give anybody a break. And so we wanted a little bit of a peak and a valley aesthetic to it.

Nyokabi: Right. One of the songs in your album, ‘Say Less’, like let's, let's talk a little bit about that. Um, what, what are some of the influences in it and what motivated you to write it?

Justin: Oh, Royce da 5’9”! Right before I wrote that record, I was listening to this song, uh, ‘Fast Lane’ by Royce da 5’9 and Eminem. [Mhmm]. And Royce da 5’9 had this line where he goes, [rapping] I'm livin' the life of the infinite enemy down/ My tenement chimney now, the semi's the remedy, pow/ Spin him around, enterin' in the vicinity now...

Music: “Fast Lane” By Bad Meets Evil (Royce Da 5’9” And Eminem)

And the cadence of it, and the way that the ‘F's’ would turn into a ‘V’ and, and then vice versa and all of those. And so I just came up with this line — [rapping] while I try to, while I? while I? [Laughs]. It's hard to say. [rapping] While I try to picture the living proof/ in a city full of Dylann Roofs/ keep my circle small enough to fit in a inner tube.

Music Underscore: “Say Less” by Demeanor

So I was like, how can I flip these ‘L's’ and ‘V's’ and ‘F's’. cause I came up with that line and then I thought about what I just said. I was like, ‘Oof, that's um, that's heavy right there’, you know, Dylan Roof was the guy who shot, um, I think it was like eight Black people at a church. [Rapping] And in a city full of Dylann Roofs, keep my circle small enough to fit in an inner tube. I can’t trust anybody.

Music: “Say Less” By Demeanor

Nyokabi: It's so interesting that you mentioned that given the conversation that's been happening throughout the world throughout the United States, with regards to Black lives, and you know, that Black lives matter. What have the protests meant to you as a Black man and as a Black artist living, you know, in America today?

Justin: It is... um, let me think about that. I spent my early life, um, always studying our history, the history of our people, the history of our culture, and trying to figure out how to make it matter to my friends who didn't care, how to make it matter to people who would say, ‘Oh, well, Obama was president, racism is done’. How do I, how do I make the fact that the banjo comes from Africa matter to somebody who doesn't listen to old-time music? You know, I, I, I always really struggled with that. And, I, on top of, you know, being light-skinned and, you know, an actor and outcasted from the Black community in a lot of ways, I always felt like I had, this like chip on my shoulder that I had to prove, you know, my Blackness, I had to be even more anti-racist in the next person, you know.

Nyokabi: Mhmm. In a lot of ways, I can relate to that. How did you feel like you needed to respond to the murder of George Floyd? 

Justin: So, when the George Floyd protests started, I was just in quarantine, like everybody else, and about a few months earlier, I had spoken out at this concert about this guy named Marcus Smith, who was murdered by the Greensboro police. And there were no protests for him, you know? And so I felt very jaded about how Greensboro would respond. 

But then I was sitting in, you know, quarantine in my room and I'm looking at my Instagram and it's going down downtown right now. And I said, this is the moment for me to see my city stand up. Um, and, I have grandparents, that I help take care of, and my mom.

And so I was hesitant to go outside at first because I didn't want to put my family at risk. I was only going out there to offer assistance. I brought masks and waters and just like random stuff that I thought might help for people.

And so we drive downtown and police have all these roads blocked off. It's my mom and I in the car. And so I tell my mom. Hey, um, I'll take the masks up there and I'll go give them to the protesters. And then I'll link up back with you. And I see this giant crowd of people. And I'm working my way through the crowd, trying to keep, you know, distance. I'm just like, yo, do you want a mask here? Do you want some water here? What can you do? What can I, blah, blah, blah. And as I get to the front, I see that the people who are leading this march are my homies. They are the ones who I've been working with for the past three years, conducting open mics and concerts. And these are the Black artists, specifically Virginia Holmes, a Black woman. And, um, I called my mom and I was like, yo, I can't, I can't leave. I have to stay. [Mhmm].I have to stay and support. 

Music Underscore: original music by Jeremy Thal

And then that night after marching for maybe 15 miles for mad hours in the heat, beautiful solidarity, all peace; cops pulled up, started gassing us, blaming us for things like, we have in Greensboro, the international civil rights museum, uh, because, uh, the sit-ins of the sixties started in Greensboro at this place called Woolworths and somebody broke the window there, they throw a brick in it and the cops blamed us for that. And we were like, do you think that the Black Lives Matter protesters in Greensboro, North Carolina are going to break the window? Are you crazy? 

Um, But the next day, was, uh, even worse. Um, You know, like I've been called the N-word I've been, I've dealt, we've all dealt with racism, but it is so different when you have been peacefully standing outside saying our life matters. [Audio Underscore: sounds from Greensboro Protests] Not our life matters more than other people, not ‘kill the president’, all we're saying is our life matters. And then you watch 80 cops pull out with guns and start tear gassing you and arresting people and tasing people and beating women and children and stuff like that. It's a whole different ballgame when it's right in front of you. So it was so painful. 

Audio continues

But then, In the same breath, the solidarity that I experienced with my community, the artist, community, Black people, and white people alike being willing to stand in the face of all that, and not back down.

Nyokabi:  Something that’s really encouraging as a Black person watching the BLM movement take off is seeing how people from all backgrounds, races, identities are responding to it. I think it gives me comfort to see how many people are finally saying ‘wait, it’s not just a “Black people” issue; it’s all of us, you know, systemic racism is all of us, and we need to figure that out.’ So, what happened next? 

Justin: After, after those two nights, our mayor issued out a curfew. At 8:00 PM, anybody who was still outside downtown was going to get arrested. I went out during the day to offer masks and supplies and food and stuff to the various little safe havens around Greensboro. And I turned around and there's a crowd of white people with signs, following me. [Mhmm]. And I'm just like, ‘uh, hello? Like, can I help you?’ Like, and they're just like, ‘Oh, I thought you were— I thought this was a march.’

And I was like, ‘well, it's not, I've never led a march before, but um, if you guys want to come with me, you're more than welcome. Just don't take up space in the street.’ And we keep walking down, I'm dropping off stuff for the different little underground spots and the crowd just gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.

And then for the next week, two weeks, I went out there everyday and all these people would meet up with me and we'd lead marches, and we kept it peaceful. And we went through all these different neighborhoods and stuff. And the mayor came out and said that because of what we were doing, they lifted the curfew. And then, you know, there came a point where it was just like, yo, like, I'm in pain. We can't do this every day. Like I'm not even eating like that, you know? So what can we do? How do we bridge the gap between protesters and the artists? You know, how do we bring this all into one consolidated effort? So my little crew of four or five people, we came together and we decided that we were going to throw a protest music festival.

Music Interlude: “Dreads” By Demeanor

Nyokabi: Tell us more about this protest music festival, which I believe you named ‘Black Elm Street’.

Justin: The title of this protest music festival is called Black ‘blank’ street. So whatever city you're in, whatever street you're on, it would be Black Elm street or Mojila street, whatever street you live on.

We had 10 different businesses down the main street of Greensboro, North Carolina  - Elm street. And we paired artists with these different locations, spread out, down the street and at each location, the artists would perform. And we had an app where you could see who was performing at what time and on the app, you also had access to the resources.

So if at, venue one, we want to talk about, you know, um, police brutality. So you'd have your artists that would perform. And then you could look on the app and see, uh, petitions that you could sign about the reallocation of funding for the police, or you had places that you could donate to. Actual things that you could do, you know, rather than just talk about them and be sad.

The idea was to stagger the performances so that the crowd would march basically from one performer to the next. To kinda redefine what a protest could look like. 

Nyokabi: So, the Black Elm Street marches are what led to you found the non-profit, Haus of Lacks, with other artists and organisers in your community. [Note of Spelling]. Where’d the name come from, and what do you do?

Justin: The name basically came from, uh, there's a woman named Henrietta Lacks, who was the first documented case of immortal cells, which means that her cells never died, they continued to multiply. Her story was basically that she got like sick or something. She was in the hospital and while they were studying her, they found out about her cells and then they stole them from her, basically they, um, never compensated her for anything that they did with her body, [mhmm], which is very common. This was in the sixties and she was a Black woman, you know? The metaphor being that, the voices and songs and truths of our communities are the immortal cells of our experience. Um, they don't die, they multiply even in the face of unbearable oppression. 

So that's where the name, Haus of Lacks. We are the house of these immortal truths.

Music Interlude: “Got Time” By Demeanor

Nyokabi: To get a little more colour on what Haus of Lacks is and what they’re up to, I spoke to Savannah Leigh Thorne, who is the co-founder and programming director of the non-profit.

Savannah: So we found each other in the midst of the protests. Um, there are five of us, five members who are founders of the Haus of Lacks. Each of us are musicians in different varieties, or artists in different varieties, um, coming from all kinds of backgrounds. So we represent everything from ethnomusicology to visual arts, to arts administration.

So we're sitting around, uh, one afternoon, we had a curfew at this point. Because things were getting pretty serious. And each of us kept saying like, there must be more, you know, these, these protests and these marches, they felt like, uh, you know, a parade of sadness and grief, which is important and valuable and, and good, but we wanted to see actionable, tangible change happening.

And I think the only thing that all of us really knew how to do was to express, and to be artists. And we really started talking about the idea of the fact that artistry helps us interpret an active history and helps us tell an irreparable truth, but it also helps us build empathy and healing. 

Nyokabi: What, what are you up to next as Haus of Lacks? Like, what projects should I be looking forward to hearing about from y'all?

Savannah: We have some cool projects on the horizon. The podcast that Justin and I are working on is called ‘the Bone to Pick Podcast’ where we talk about, um, de-colonizing the industry and the methods of consumption and, um, booking agencies and even, you know, the classical conservatories. And then Justin and I, and the rest of the house are working on an EP right now. All about empowered collaboration that I actually think is a grant from OneBeat. And then, you know, the rest of it — y'all just gonna have to follow and find out. [Laughs].

Music Interlude: “Got Time” By Demeanor

Nyokabi: Hearing about all you’ve accomplished as Haus of Lacks in such a short amount of time is so impressive, Justin, how you as an individual have been so proactive in your community, particularly after your time at OneBeat in 2019.

Justin: OneBeat!

Nyokabi: [Laughs]. Yeah, I mean, what have you taken from that experience? 

Justin: Oh, I've-- what have I not taken from that experience? Um, I think that there were, there were two ways that that was really, um, pivotal for me. One was as an artist and one was as a Black man. The identity of Blackness, when you are in Bible Belt, America was hard for me to come to terms with my place in it. And so going to OneBeat and being able to see Black people, from all over the world. Like, I didn't know, there were Black people in Cuba until I did OneBeat.

I always knew the beautiful mosaic of colors of people, all around the world, but until you're actually around it, you don't know how much it's going to mean to you [right]. Being able to play banjo with a lady from Mongolia, who's playing this instrument that I can't pronounce to this day. Being able to talk to my friend Tarek about, you know, the Egyptian revolution and like what that was like for him. Beyond just the music, just the culture, and the stories and the love that we were able to share.

And then at a music level, it was just so incredibly challenging and moving, like, I never knew how to improvise until OneBeat. It changed the way that I played my banjo forever. Um, It changed the way that I approached creating music. I'm sitting on like three albums right now, and a lot of it was inspired by my time at OneBeat.

And the fact that now I can have a means to talk to people around the world is just so...I'm just so grateful for it. I'm so grateful for it. It was really hard for me. I struggled a lot. I struggled a lot. I have a lot of social anxiety and being around people every like hour, you know, for a month. I was very, uh, I was very overwhelmed socially, but I would, I'd go back and do it again every, every year for the rest of my life. Honestly.

Nyokabi: Aw, that’s really inspiring to hear. And at OneBeat, you created this incredible song called ‘Tambo’, with Found Sound Nation’s co-founder Jeremy Thal, as well as with two other Fellows, one being the Egyptian oud player, Tarek Elazhary, as well as the Chinese synth designer, Meng Qi. 

Music: “Tambo” feat. Demeanor (from OneBeat 2019 Mixtape)

Nyokabi: What can you tell me about this song?

Justin: Hmm. Yeah, so, this is heavy, I'm going to try to keep it light. So before I went to OneBeat, I had come up with this world, this pocket universe, that was set somewhere between the year 3000 and 1850, where there was an everlasting minstrel show. But this minstrel show was reversed, and it was the audience who was in blackface. 

And as opposed to having the typical lineup of the minstrel show, where there's Mr. Bones, the interlocutor, Mr. Tambo, a fiddle player and a banjo. They were all in one basically. And the rapper was the interlocutor and almost had multiple personalities, where Mr. Bones would be the devil on my left shoulder, and Mr. Tambo was an angel on my right shoulder, and what were some of the stories that they would share? 

Nyokabi: How did the song itself come together in the context of OneBeat?

Justin: That song in particular, uh, came about because, I think it was like the last night that we were able to record together before we went on tour. Uh, we got in the studio and, uh, Meng had made this crazy, like, crazy beat.

Music: Beat From “Tambo

Jeremy was like, ‘yo, you want to like rap on this?’ And I was like, ‘yeah, let’s make it happen.’

So, ah, it's making me emotional to think about it. I forgot how, like, how I felt walking out of the studio after we recorded it. Jeremy doesn't even know this probably, but I was just like, yo, like I didn't, like, I didn't think I was going to leave with anything.

And it wasn't just me rapping, you know, a random verse like that, that song had so much meaning to me. Um, and it was a story that was so close to my heart and no one had ever heard before.

Music: “Tambo

Nyokabi: Wow, so I will admit that before I listened to your song, I didn’t know too much about, you know, the minstrel shows. I understood that the history of Blackface is linked to these shows, but it was actually a really popular form of entertainment in the United States in the 18-1900s, and their sole purpose was to create entertainment from intentionally stereotyping and depicting Black people as lazy, unintelligent, buffoonish, you know, essentially less than human. So Tambo and Mr. Bones aren’t actually characters you made up, but they were the stock characters that you’d find in these shows. Given all of what we’ve talked about today, particularly with regards to the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, if Tambo and Mr. Bones were living in the minstrel era, what era do you think that we’re in today?

Justin: We are still in the minstrel era. It just turned into vaudeville and it turned into Broadway and it turned into sitcoms and it turned into action movies and it turned out like — we are still in the minstrel era. They just got a lot better at coding it, you know, they don't call us N-words anymore. They just say stuff like ‘urban’ [laughs], and like, uh, ‘rioters’.

Nyokabi: You know, while we're talking about how bleak the world is right now, um, what, what are you most hopeful about?

Justin: We're in a generation-defining moment right now. And so that gives us the opportunity to define what we want and who we are in circumstances that the world hasn't seen before. When you're at your lowest point. All you can hold on to is the fact that you have the potential to be better and to do better. And that's what I want to do. I know that's what you're doing. I know this whole OneBeat is doing, I know that’s what Bang on the Can is doing. I know this what Found Sound Nation is doing, that's what the Haus is doing. That's what Kendrick is doing. Let's go. I felt like we’re the Avengers right now, you know? [Laughs]. Let’s get Thanos out of here! 

Music Interlude: “All We Know” by Demeanor

Music Interlude: “Ol Joe” by Demeanor

Kyla: Thank you for tuning in today to the OneBeat Podcast. This episode was produced + edited by Nyokabi Kariuki and Jeremy Thal with essential help from Charlotte Gartenberg, Kyla-Rose Smith and Elena Moon Park. Mixing by Jeremy Thal and Zubin Hensler.

A lot of the music you heard throughout this episode is from Demeanor. You can find him on all streaming platforms - check out his latest EP, Slpr 3. You also heard music from Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, Royce Da 5’9, and Eminem. A full playlist is available on our website. 

Next month we visit the incomparable city of Bogota, Colombia where we speak to another musical leader, percussionist, songwriter and feminist activist Daniela Serna. Listen to us anywhere you get your podcasts - and please rate, review, subscribe and share. Follow us at 1Beatmusic. That’s the number 1….beatmusic. And

A quick note of correction here. In the interview, Justin speaks about Dylann Roof and the 2015 shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Dylann murdered 9 African American congregants that day, and not 8 as mentioned in the interview. 

The views + opinions expressed by our guests are their own and do not reflect the views of the ECA, Bang On A Can, Found Sound Nation, or any of its employees.

OneBeat is an initiative of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with Bang On A Can’s Found Sound Nation.