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Jabee On Julius Jones, Gentrification & His 'Fragile And Cruel' New Album

Emily Matthews / Provided

This is Songwriters & Tour Riders, a production of KOSU and Oklahoma State University and hosted by Matthew Viriyapah. On this episode is Oklahoma hip hop artist, Jabee.

Jabee says the idea of his latest album title, This World Is So Fragile and Cruel I'm Glad I Got You, "kind of floats throughout the climate we are living in." It comes after a four-year period of learning and community work. And while this pandemic has put a pause on most musicians' tours and shows, Jabee has been continually organizing.

He helped put together last weekend’s Oklahoma City march commemorating the March On Washington and organized a Juneteenth celebration earlier this summer. He also released a song with Julius Jones, a Black death row inmate whose petition for clemency has been taken up by Jabee, several professional athletes and others.

In the episode, he talks about meeting Julius Jones, Juneteenth, the album and more.

Whether it's just appreciating the people around and the time we have— if it's the injustice and the issues we are dealing with in this country regarding Black people, this world is so fragile and cruel, but I'm glad I got you.

On meeting Julius Jones

I've known about [Julius] since junior high. His mom taught at the school I went to. His sister went to school with me.

Whenever they kind of started picking up steam with his situation, I got in touch with his sister, just seeing how I could help. And he and I started talking on the phone, and he would always read some of his poems to me.

So I was like, 'we should do a song... and you read one of your poems and people can hear your voice and hear you speak.'

On gentrification

A lot of Black people on the East side [of Oklahoma City], we feel like the East side has always been a cool place to live and be. It's always been the spot for us. It's always been a cool place to live for us.

If you want to displace people, the first thing you do is you take away their resources. You take away their food, so they have to move somewhere else to get it. So that happened.

And then for families who are moving into a new place, a new neighborhood, or new community, the first thing that they look at when they move to a new house is schools. So if you're trying to attract a certain demographic of people, and you've already taken their food so this demographic of people is forced to be displaced and then with the changing of the Northeast High School  — the picture that you're painting, regardless of what you say, is the beginning stages of gentrification. 

I still want it to look like us when we get the resources that the other parts of town get.

Music featured in this episode:

  1. Jabee - Birth Name
  2. Jabee - Until You're Free
  3. Jabee - The Recipe
  4. Jabee - Clic
  5. Geto Boys - Mind Playing Tricks On Me
  6. 2pac - Dear Mama
  7. Jabee - Hope
  8. Lissie - Little Lovin'
  9. Jabee - Gotta Get To Heaven
  10. Nipsey Hussle - Grindin' All My Life
  11. Jabee - No Allegiance
  12. Jabee - ChecMate
  13. Jabee - The Mirror
  14. Jabee - Food For Thought
  15. Jabee - Fragile & Cruel

Matthew Viriyapah is KOSU's production assistant and host of the music podcast Songwriters & Tour Riders.
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