Alcohol, women and money are often themes of the hip-hop scene the media portrays. Rapper and poet Random Abiladeze sometimes addresses these topics, but from a different perspective than the norm. He uses politically, socially and spiritually charged poetry to silence the negative connotations.
“I am a square bear,” Random said as he explained that kids informed him the current term is “straight edge.” “The predominant image in the media is that rappers, primarily black males, (just) drink, smoke, and sell drugs; I’m breaking stereotypes.”
During his performance at The Chumash Auditorium as a part of the Multicultural Center’s Another Type of Groove Wednesday night, listeners nodded their heads to Random’s seamless rhythmic execution and creative hip-hop beats.
Another Type of Groove is an open forum that allows performers to candidly express their views on controversial issues, said Josue Urrutia, event coordinator for the Multicultural Center.
“Everyone is allowed to say what they want,” he said. “People will disagree but that’s okay. People take things to heart sometimes, but you have to respect the mic and respect the poet.”
During his performance, Random integrated poignant topics that went hand-in-hand with the election season.
“The Federal Reserve is a privately owned company that creates money out of thin air,” Random said during one of his poems.
He explained how he lyrically explores politics beyond the cliché left wing versus right wing battle. He “exposes” issues that people avoid, which people translate to being socially aware, he said.
In his poem entitled “Money Hungry,” Random posed a hypothetical question: “Do you investigate the way they inflate every dollar that you make?”
During conversation in between poems, he expressed his support for president-elect Barack Obama but noted, “Someone has to leave.” On that cue, he proceeded to throw on sunglasses and impersonate President George Bush. Random’s well-received portrayal of the president featured criticism of the nation’s fiscal situation and mocked his Texan roots.
Although Random recognized the serious nature of many of his poems, he added humor to reach audiences in a different light.
“If you listen to the music, it’s like I’m talking to you individually,” he said.
Random began rhyming at the young age of 12 as a dare, when older kids told him to string a few lines together. After a positive reaction after performing the freestyle rhyme, Random realized he might have a future as a rapper.
“I’m still a square, people just think I’m cool because I put words together,” he said.
Random established his reputation in Sacramento through open-mic nights and opening for larger acts, such as Nas, Immortal Technique and Tech N9ne.
“I realize people are saying the same things I’m saying, just in different ways,” he said. “People have identified me as a political rapper and (that) I expose the same things, but my words (tend to) hit some people harder.”
The Sacramento-born poet attributes his popularity among the youth to their ability to relate to his message and youthful appearance.
Along with commenting on the nation’s media-driven society, Random intertwines spiritual messages throughout his work. This has caused many to mistakenly classify him as a religious rapper.
“We forget we are all unified, but we won’t admit there is the same energy in all living things,” he said. “God is in all of us in the most literal sense.”
Random is a two-time champion of the Got Spit! Poetry Slam, hosted by the Sacramento chapter of Hip Hop Congress. He was voted Youth Speaks Male Poet of the Month for Oct. 2007 in San Francisco. In 2008, Random came in first place at both Stanford University’s Battle of The Bay poetry slam and Sacramento State University’s Words As Conscious Action poetry slam.
He compared his poetic style to an english essay: a hook, the body and conclusion. His poems are full of alliteration, double entendre and allusion.
“I strive to end all my poems with a moment of clarity,” he said.
The triple-threat artist takes an active role to inspire youth in programs throughout California with poetry, hip-hop, and public speaking. He is involved with a growing list of non-profit organizations such as Youth Speaks, Placer County Peer Court, Californians for Justice and Youth Noise.
Random Abiladeze belongs to several poetry and hip-hop outfits, including The Neighborhood Watch (Sacramento-based hip-hop collective), SickSpits (UC Davis poetry collective) and his new hip-hop group, T.O.P (The Other Poets).
Random’s latest album, “Random Abiladeze & Prozak Morris are.T.he O.ther P.oets” is set to drop Dec. 9, 2008. It is his first group album, sharing the mic with fellow Sacramento rapper/producer, Prozak Morris.
“Just think 1989 through 1999 hip-hop with 2009 perspective and language,” he said. “It is a complete throwback to the future. They (listeners) will get a history lesson about revamping the music we grew up on.”