Interview with Sole pt. 1

James Timothy “Tim” Holland Jr. (born September 25, 1977), better known by his stage name Sole, is an American underground hip hop artist from Portland, Maine. (-from Wikipedia)

1. I believe I read where you’ve stated that you really started paying attention to politics in 2001, after you were in new York during the events of 9/11. How have your views progressed since the beginning of your career?

After 9-11 I became obsessed with trying to figure all this out, but truth be told I was initially radicalized by Public Enemy, Malcom X, Boogie Down Productions and the Black Panthers in my teens, but that influence in my music was always very subtle, as I opted more for an existentialist / experimental approach to my art… After 9-11 that just felt stupid, I wanted to become a scholar of why things are the way they are and how to change shit.   Once I really delved into the works of people like Marx, Goldman, Zinn, Chomsky, Debord, etc. those ideas made more sense then what I had been exposed to through the popular culture & public education.  The most formative years for me were when I moved to Spain in 2004 for 2 years then I spent another 5 years in Northern Arizona, essentially in exile studying radical philosophy.  Then I moved to Denver and got involved in the struggles happening there.    Once I got in the streets and began actually engaging in anarchist struggles, as opposed to reading about them the power of the ideas really become evident, they were no longer in books, they were immediately practical.  Anarchist ideas and practice are best suited to our times and the dilemmas we face, the only way out of our current crisis is to begin building the world we want now, not writing about it, not panning over the writings of dead white men, but to begin to think and act in new ways to engage the world & people around us.  We don’t have to wait for a dramatic revolution, we can begin building our own infrastructures and practices now, there already is a revolutionary process happening all over the world, the question is will we be participants or spectators?


2. How has the switch in the memetics in how people produce, market, and  become exposed to underground music from the late 90s to today mirrored other aspects of our society, in the term of what Marx called dialectical materialism? and how does this play out personally in the lives of the artists?

1soleWell to me the most notable difference is that we’ve lost all the old cultural institutions that exposed people to stuff; John Peele, URb’s Next 100, cult radio shows that seek out new artists, well curated record stores, etc.  Its mostly all gone now and has been replaced by social media, which is supposed to put all of us in control but really what its done is allowed the major labels and corporations to control all the back channels and people with money control what people see.   Its the same with journalism; true investigative journalism for the most part has been replaced by clickbait sites.   Culturally, its kind of a nightmare right now.  I have my little node, in my little corner of the world and I’m able to live pretty well, but so much of it is reliant on algorhythms that its hard to feel like we’re standing on anything solid anymore.


3. What does your idea for a better world look like and what are some of the strategies toward getting there?

Our current hyper capitalist society has traumatized a lot of people, and if we instantly just abolished the state we’d still have a lot of of baggage from the old world or end up with a dictator. Most radicals agree that we want a society that maximizes people’s autonomy without coersive authorities, one that minimizes exploitation, and lets people begin to live meaningful lives where they aren’t stressed out about the basics of survival.  A world where nation states aren’t the main actors, but groups of self determined people creating new forms of life.

How do we get there?   We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of anarchist outreach projects, of being involved in local struggles / waves of actions and horizontal movements, these are all dress rehearsals for the real thing.  We must always adapt and critique our own actions, are they effective?  We need to learn to communicate in our ideas without all the bullshit jargain that alienates people.  The reason I identify as an anarchist, is because I believe this approach and these ideas are the correct ones, and most people think and act in this way without actually actively knowing it,  so to me its about showing folks that basic human impulse of sharing and freedom and resisting authority has a rich tradition that is intrinsic to human nature.   I want to be part of a revolutionary project that works towards building a world where people aren’t exploited, where people can live a more care free life with less stress, where we don’t have cops roaming the streets harassing each people, where mega corporations aren’t polluting our locales, where people have the means to meaningfully effect the society they live in and aren’t boxed in by institutions that don’t care about working people.   I think more localized struggles are the way to get there, every city is different, and while we all have a ton to learn from each other, we also need to look at where we are and what we can do to build power where we live.   I’m hesitant to prescribe any specific program,  because thats how we end up being too dogmatic, or under the yokes of a dictator.


4. What is art’s part in the revolution?

My views on this have changed a lot over the years.  I used to think artists like Woodie Guthrie and Bob Dylan were drivers of revolution(an absurd notion) and thats what I set out to do.  Later I felt that if artists weren’t in the streets their “revolutionary/political” music was hollow.  These days I feel like art can provide a number of important roles: to increase awareness of events/ideas, to help raise money for radical causes, to provide a much needed release for those involved in struggle (ie preaching to the choir), it can deepen people’s analysis & radicalize them, and concerts can also be used as spaces to galvanize people and as jumping off / gathering points for direct actions / confrontations.  Like Emma said, “its not my revolution if i can’t dance”


5. What are your thoughts on Senator Sanders?

I have always respected Bernie’s role as a lone wolf politician doing his thing and trying to have integrity, I like him, but his politics are not perfect.   I’m not telling people not to vote if thats their thing.    That said, this election is really frustrating to me, and its as if people have no memory at all.   People are going crazy like he is MLK for white liberals or some shit and even he says himself that it’ll take a mass movement to make any of his ideas happen because he knows he has no support in congress or the house.  Somehow his supporters don’t seem to take the most important aspect of his speeches seriously.  When those 15,000 people at the Bernie rally decide to march out into the cities and grind cities to a halt until we start to see some real changes(affordable housing, health care for all, end to police killings, end usage of fossil fuels, less work more pay, etc.) then and only then will we see change; when the powers that be are hurting in their pockets.  So what Bernie does when he does not get accepted as the democratic nominee is what is important, will they tranform this into another occupy-esque mass movement (i kind of fucking hope not, not in the mood for occupy 2.0)?  this election is a spectacle…  people are evangelizing for Bernie and going crazy on social media acting like he can do all the work for them, if those people really care about what he is talking about they need to take matters into their own hands, opt out of the election cycle and dig in where they live and throw their lot in with local struggles against capitalism.  The “revolution” is happening all around, all these Bernie folks need to do is open their eyes and do the hard work.  no one is gonna save them.