Zach sits down with rapper, activist, poet, public speaker, and author Propaganda to discuss his career, white evangelicalism, hip hop, and of course his latest book Terraform: Building a Better World. Check the links in the show notes to connect with Prop via his website and social media accounts!
Check out Prop’s website.
Interested in his new book? Learn more about it on Amazon.
Zach (00:02): Living Corporate is brought to you by Kanarys. Let me tell you about Kanarys. Kanarys is a tech company formed in 2018 by black founders who experienced inequities in the corporate world. Like most of us in the workplace, they saw typical diversity initiatives, but knew that to create the systemic change diversity, equity, and inclusion needed to be done differently. They’re still ahead of the curve, focusing on the ‹E’ and the ‹I’ using a data-driven approach. Think canary in the coal mine. The name is a nod to the canaries coal miners used to bring into the mines to determine if the work environment was safe or undesirable. That’s what they do for companies. They help you find the folks you need to listen to the canaries who will help you diagnose, measure, and attack your DEI challenges. Kanarys has your back. Check them out at www.kanarys.com/employer. That’s www.kanarys.com/employer.
Voice-over (01:11): Living Corporate is brought to you by Black Men in Tech. Black Men in Tech’s mission is to elevate the voice of black men in the technology space, by offering year-round engagement opportunities and philanthropic contributions for people in the black community, the neighborhood. In the tech industry, black men rightly struggled to access networking and career advancement opportunities. At Black Men in Tech 2021, they are partnering with their allies to create a safer space where a black man can share their experiences authentically. Through this effort, Black Men in Tech hopes to share knowledge that can be used by black attendees to overcome race-based obstacles. While also offering non-black allies, the chance to learn how they can be more supportive of their melanated colleagues. To learn more about the Black Men in Tech conference that will be happening on June 19th at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard time, check them out at blackmenintech.com. Black Men in Tech.
(02:19): [musical interlude]
Zach (02:21): What’s up y’all it’s Zach from Living Corporate, and recording this, the weekend after Derek Chauvin. After his sentencing of 22 and a half years. It’s interesting, I think it’s important, and it’s also possible to hold many different emotions and hold space for people who are in different places with the news of the sentencing. On one hand, you have folks who are saying, this is police accountability. This is more years than what could the range, rather the historical range of these charges. And there are other folks who say, Hey, look, this isn’t enough. He should have gotten life in prison. He shouldn’t, with no parole. He should never see the light of day again. And I think it’s important to honor and respect the fact that both of those realities can exist simultaneously.
(03:13): And I also believe it’s important for all of us to push our collective imagination of what justice, what accountability means. And then also, when it comes to imagination, it takes imagination to challenge systems, because systems are big and complex by design. So when I think about the sentencing of Derek Chauvin and when people say, well, he got more years than the average for these charges. And my response is, those charges and the range of those charges didn’t fit what Derek Chauvin did. But again, and when we start talking about, well, it’s beyond the range of a charge, and this law and that law, what we’re describing as a system. And the uncomfortable truth is that black and brown folks go to jail much longer for crimes that don’t even involve harming people, let alone killing people.
(04:13): And so, we don’t have to, nor do we owe anyone calm, respectable responses to injustices, to trauma, to institutional harm. We don’t. And when you think about this whole concept of re-imagining systems. And to re-imagine a system, first off, you have to reject the current system. And that’s scary for people. I get that. I get that it’s scary to reject systems because it’s, well then what do we have? How do things work? But it’s okay. It’s really healthy. We look at the world that we’re in, and so much of it is fundamentally broken. So it’s more than healthy and reasonable to reject systems. It is.
(05:08): It’s interesting because today’s guest, he is an author, an activist, a father, a husband, a rapper, a speaker, an educator, a mentor to several people. And frankly, I was a fan. I am a fan. I was a super fan coming up. And I told him as much. His name is Propaganda. For those who don’t know, Propaganda, he just wrote a book called, Terraform. And so we talk about the book. We talk about the concept of terraforming. What does that mean? We talk about creating impact and change. And we talk a lot about systems. I’m excited for y’all to hear this interview, but before we do that, we’re going to tap in with Tristan. I’m a see you in a minute.
Tristan (06:04): What’s going on Living Corporateit’s Tristan. And I want to thank you for tapping back in with me., as I provide some tips and advice for professionals. Today, let’s discuss how you can politely say no at work. We’ve all been there, where we wanted to say no to coworkers and sometimes even our bosses, but we aren’t sure how to phrase it. Being able to say no is a skill that you must master to achieve success at work. There are times when you have to set boundaries to focus on the workload you currently have instead of piling on more. Erica Pierce, millennial leadership coach at the Millennial Boardroom, provided four great ways to politely say no in a recent email, that I wanted to share with you all.
(06:41): First, thank you, but I’m not taking anything else on right now. By starting with thank you, you’re being nice and respectful. The second part of that statement implies that you’ve already got your hands full, which explains why you can not take on the request. Lastly, by saying right now, you’re letting them know that it’s not because you can’t do the task, but you need to prioritize your time.
(07:05): Second, I’m not able to commit to that right now. While this statement communicates the same thing as the previous point, it’s a bit more firm in its phrasing. You can follow up this statement with a very brief explanation of why you feel you have to say no. But be careful not to get into overexplaining. Third, unfortunately, it’s not a good time. By saying, unfortunately, in this statement, it acknowledges that the task presented to you is important, and that you empathize with your coworker here. You can follow up with an alternative option or something like I’ll let you know if I can help, as soon as I’m done with this task.
(07:43): Lastly, thank you for thinking of me. I really wish I could. This statement is a bit more enthusiastic than the others, but still communicates that, you know your limits. This helps your coworker or boss not feel as bad for having their request rejected. Look, I understand saying no at work can be uncomfortable and believe me, that’s a common problem in the workplace. But by using these phrases, the people you work with will understand if you can’t do something at the moment, and likely they won’t hold it against you. Check out more on Erica Pierce at www.themillennialboardroom.com. Thanks for tapping in with me today. Don’t forget, I’m now taking submissions from you all on career questions, issues, concerns, or advice you think may help others. So make sure to submit yours at bit.ly/tapintristan.
(08:33): This tip was brought to you by Tristan of Layfield Résumé Consulting. Check us out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at Layfield Résumé or connect with me, Tristan Layfield on LinkedIn.
Voice-over (08:48): At Living Corporate we often talk about how we, as black folks, show up at work, and how these corporate power structures impact how we show up. But, we know, when work ends, we come home, log off and have to show up at home for our families and communities. And as a black man, I often turn to Let’s Talk Bruh, for the real, honest and healing conversations on black masculinity, mental health and patriarchy.
(09:10): Let’s Talk Bruh or LTB is a platform that creates content around black masculinity and the impact of patriarchy in black communities. In other words, Let’s Talk Bruh is having real conversations that black men need to hear and be a part of. Let’s Talk Bruh creates interactive healing and learning experiences with black men and male socialized folks of all sexual orientations and gender identities through their content and community-based programs. Let’s Talk Bruh seeks to reduce patriarchal violence in our community and provide support to those most impacted by patriarchal violence. Specifically black women, girls, femmes, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people. Tap in at letstalkbruh.com. So brothers, what are you waiting for? Let’s talk, bruh.
Zach (10:03): Prop was going on, man. How you doing, man?
Propaganda (10:05): I’m good, Homie. Can’t complain.
Zach (10:07): And it’s a blessing to have you here. Look, I’m connecting to you because of this book, Terraform: Building A Better World. I really want to understand. I think, especially in this space, this Christian space, you exist in a lot of different places at the same time as a musician, as an activist, as an educator. What led you to write Terraform?
Propaganda (10:34): And I think ultimately, it’s finding a way to, like you said, I exist in so many different spaces. Finding a way to create a sort of a universe for myself. I was asked at some point, by my management, Hey, what do you want to talk about for the next 10 years? And I was, sheesh, 10 years? This better be a pretty big concept or really core to who I am. So I thought about well, yeah, I think I’m really, all that I do, like you said, activism, my faith, poetry, it’s all about the structure and formation of culture. So that became, all right, so what do I think about it? You know what I mean? And that’s where I came across the term, Terraform., Which it’s a science fiction word about when you find a distant planet. In the process of making that planet livable is called Terraforming. So I was, yeah, that’s making culture. You know what I’m saying?
Zach (11:32): It’s interesting. So, your background, you’re the son of a black Panther. I think about this current space of white evangelicalism, and you’ve never really fit into the respectablity that they expect. And I just because, like we were talking about off mike is, I remember when I first saw you, I was dog this dude looks like [inaudible 00:12:03] in a good way. He’s like [inaudible 00:12:05] the streets for real.
Propaganda (12:07): He lived different.
Zach (12:09): Different. And especially, I want to say, I don’t want to get too nerdy, but shoot, this isn’t the platform for [inaudible 00:12:14].
Propaganda (12:14): Yeah. Let’s go. Your pod.
Zach (12:14): Okay. So here’s the thing. There was this era, [inaudible 00:12:21] if you think about Cross Movement. Even Cross Movement, soul food, I’ll even pull them up. Everything kind of existed in this, and I know soul food wasn’t hip hop. It’s like everything existed in these very, I don’t know, defined boxes of what black music, even hip hop. Cross movement was street. And they are, of course, are the godfathers of so much of this stuff. But they weren’t rocking up with dreads and that wasn’t the vibe. Boys had edge ups and they looked good.
Propaganda (12:56): Those clean cut brothers. Yeah.
Zach (12:56): Whatever. They were clean cut, so they were even acceptable. They even fit within the norms of what, perhaps, your white evangelic would expect of a ‹rapper’. Whereas, you show up and you’re coming up in this space and you’ve been historically feverent and consistent in your position on white supremacy, before it was hyper-trendly. Talk to me about what informed precious puridance and the work? Talk to me about that. And then talk to me about just how that’s even informed how you interpret and navigate the current evangelical landscape today?
Propaganda (13:41): Yeah. That’s a great question, man. You bring up cross movement. So, my prehistory is, I was sort of the last wave of a group called, ‹Tunnel Rats’. And that was my first group. So, I came up in this sort of west coast scene. Obviously, this is before the internet ran everything. So, to know what was going on in Philly or in the south, you had to go there. You know what I’m saying? We didn’t know what was going on over there. So we just knew out here you had Tunnel Rats, you had people like Pigeon John aand LA Symphony. Dudes like Abstract Rude, who were all a part of this scene, who we knew were Christians, but we were all at the same events.
(14:33): We all battled. We all freestyled. We all were at the open mics. So our scene was one for which, because it was, since this is not New York, since it’s not Philly, we were so passionate about building a hip hop scene here. That there was such a comradery about man, you’re from the coast. So no matter what, God, you’re worshiping on Sunday, we ride for you, because you from the coast. So we had this sort of, we’re a part of the scene kind of attitude. And then, you come across people like Cross Movement, and what was going on over there, which was much more influenced by the Five Percenters and the Nation of Islam, where they were so much more. You had to be so much more militant.
(15:24): I’m saying this now, in retrospect, but at the time, we didn’t know we were doing. So, I was just like my OGs. My OGs were LPG, we’re Tunnel Rats. I was just like them. So I was, I’m ahead, I’m a b-boy. You know, I came from graffiti, so I was, we’re b-boys. And then, when you meet somebody that you thought was at the time, well, y’all look like heads. You look like it, but they had so many parameters around what it was supposed to look like as a Christian rapper, that we just didn’t have where we were.
(16:05): And now, like I said, in retrospect, I understand it’s because they were coming from this, like I said, the super militant east coast world, where if you look back at a Wu Tang record, it’s, this is 5% apologetics. That’s what it is. But I didn’t know that, I was just hip hop, okay, Poor Righteous Teachers, they’re Muslims. Cool. I love them. You just don’t, you know. Native tongue, the Muslims, all right. So, we just didn’t consider it. So I think that, I came into a scene thinking that, in my own naive way, like hip hop was hip hop, and that everyone thought like we did. So, once I found out that that was not the case, I felt as though, well, I’m a stay true.
(16:59): I’m just going to be who I am. And I know there’s a crowd for this. If y’all never accept me, this ain’t even… Again, I was such a backpacker. I was, this ain’t even hip hop. Would I care if this church want to book me or not? This aint hip hop, you feel me? So, I had an attitude of, if you want to talk scripture, if you want to talk apologetics, let’s go there. Because I am a Christian, and I do believe in the scriptures. But you ain’t never asked me. So, well if you want to talk about it, yes, I have a reason for why I do what I do. And I don’t understand why you need a chapter and verse for it. I just don’t understand what you don’t understand.
(17:43): So that was kinda my stance. So then, with the Precious Pearson’s thing was when we started getting a little notoriety. And I started traveling more, not necessarily in the Christian music circuit, but in the conference circuit. Because our music was so cerebral, so because of that, I was getting brought into these, they were evangelical, but they were conferences. These were adults. So as I’m doing this, I’m just sitting in the back. And again, like you said, I’m a son of a Panther, and I’m listening to these preachers just pontificate about how amazing the puritants were. And I was looking around in the room, is anyone gonna…? Am I the only one that…?
(18:27): There’s no way, none of y’all notice. And first, I was just befuddled. And then after I was befuddled, I was frustrated. I was angry. And then, finally, then I was self-reflective because again, I’m a believer. So I was, are they any different than I am? And I’m nah, they’re flawed. They’re flawed individuals. So I was, dang, this will make a really dope poem. So, that’s where it came from.
(18:54): But I think that ultimately, when you come in as an outsider, and it’s one of those things to where it was, I didn’t think I was, until y’all told me I was. Does that make sense? So that was my interaction with white evangelicalism, because I didn’t come from that. I came from, we come from like black and Latino, inner city churches, and we’re California’s. So we weren’t a part of that, but we thought we served the same God. So, when we walked in, it was bizarre. We were wait, what? So it was just more, oh, so, okay word, this is different. Now I know. So it was kind of like, all right, cool. Well, it’s like you drew the fence. I’m like, y’all drew the line in the sand. I didn’t, you did.
Zach (19:48): [inaudible].
Propaganda (19:47): So if that’s the case, then I’m, all right, well then I’m just not going to be concerned about you. But, if I have your ear, if I’m still getting gigs like Catalysts and I’m still getting these conference gigs where I’m full of these white people. I’m gonna give them the business. You booked me. I only have my work. I only have my poem.
Zach (20:10): I don’t have nothing else. [Inaudible 00:20:08].
Propaganda (20:10): Yeah, I only have my work, so I’m going to perform my work.
Zach (20:15): It’s interesting, man, so I remember when Precious Puritants came, dropped, this was when I was still subscribed to Gospel Coalition. I was heavy in Gospel Coalition at the time. I was all about it. And I just remember people really debating the value of the work. Talk to me about the personal conversations that you had with folks of our pigmentation, with folks, with people who call themselves allies. What was the fallout? Because it was a fallout. I don’t feel like I’m being [inaudible 00:20:48].
Propaganda (20:48): No, it was a fallout. Definitely, it was definitely a fallout.
Zach (20:51): Well, talk to me about how it went?
Propaganda (20:53): It was funny. I’ll be honest with you. It was funny because you know our history, So Humble Beast, like that’s our Thomas and braille. They are whitest white boys.
Zach (21:03): Bruh, yes. And they got bars for you too.
Propaganda (21:05): Yes. And they got bars. So they were, we recorded the song. They’re, we recorded the song. You’re absolutely right. These people don’t, first of all, they don’t understand poetry. Because if you understood poetry, you would understand that there’s multiple points happening here. And that, you’re holding yourself at just as much fault as the Puritans. And that’s the part that, I was finding peace in the fact that I’m, okay, so you don’t understand poetry and clearly you’re convicted. So there’s two things happening.
Zach (21:41): [inaudible] conviction happening.
Propaganda (21:41): Yes. Conviction. And, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Because any of your defenses were saying, and they jumped to my defense. They were, [inaudible 00:21:51] are, what is the actual problem? Do we not treat, do we not venerate the Puritans? And they’re, we’re just afraid that young people will not read them. And they’re, is that key to their salvation, whether they read the Puritans or not?
Zach (22:06): Yes. It’s like [inaudible 00:22:05].
Propaganda (22:06): Do you have to? Do you have to read the Puritans? And then, things like the Gospel Coalition, making statements, like, man, there was really no visible sin in their life. And we going, word you really? So you really believe that there was a moment in the body that we actually became sinless?
Zach (22:26): Because what does that say about your [inaudible 00:22:27]? What is that?
Propaganda (22:27): Yes. What dies that say about your theology, first? Let me first set aside the fact that slavery, the Transatlantic Slave Trade was happening right now. Let me set that aside right now. Do you really think it’s possible? What are you Nazareen? What are you talking about? You’re going to get to sinless. You’re going to live a moment of sin that you’re saying this entire swath of the body did that? Okay. Word. So you’ve got an idol. It was just so clear. So that was our inner conversation where I was bro, you good. And the beauty of the people that were experts in Puritans were, we were waiting for somebody to say this. Well, I didn’t understand why nobody else didn’t bring this up. We noticed. And then, Pastor Tabity wrote a 12 point diatribe. This blog of, okay, y’all got an issue, let me talk about it. So after that I was, because my attitude was, again, I’m an MC. I was, I said, what I said.
Zach (23:37): Right. [inaudible 00:23:37].
Propaganda (23:37): I don’t understand. What do you want me to add to it? You want to do an interview about, at the time I was, all I’m gonna do is repeat the lyrics. There’s nothing else to add. I said what I needed to say. What did you mean when you said? I said what I meant. I don’t understand. What are you talk about?
Zach (23:53): Well, it’s right there.
Propaganda (23:53): So to me at the time I was, I ain’t got nothing to add because I said what I meant. And then, Tabity answered it. And I was, I defer to his answer because it was so perfect. And it was flawless. And for me, I ain’t got time for this. And I’m, y’all, don’t understand poetry. You don’t understand the genre. So I don’t even know where to start with you. And they were, well then why did you spend so much time talking or tearing down the Puritans, and only one line about yourself? And I’m, okay, so because, okay, have you seen a movie? It’s the reveal. I’m building up to the reveal. Like what? Okay, so you don’t… All right.
Zach (24:39): It’s poetry. Again, it’s art man.
Propaganda (24:39): It’s poetry. I’m, all right, you don’t understand poetry. And at the time, in that particular space, that’s true. There wasn’t any P4CM. There wasn’t any poets in autumn. There wasn’t any of that. It was me. So I understand y’all, don’t understand poetry. But, you don’t understand poetry. So, whatever.
Zach (25:03): It’s wild because in the song, Misconception on Church Clothes, which was lso revolutionary at the time as a mixtape. Even though Sho Baraka did the same thing the year before that. it was cool.
Propaganda (25:16): Yes. Totally did. Yes.
Zach (25:18): And hold on, real quick. So why, what is up man? What is up with that? Sho Barack. Look, I’m getting my nerd on because all these conversations, I’ve had with my mens. And I was, if I ever sit and talked to Propaganda, I’m going to talk, I’m going to ask. Sho Baraka did, he had the exact same blueprint. Now, it wasn’t as sexy, but it was the same thing.
Propaganda (25:42): Yeah. You have to remember really what Lecrae meant to that world? He was their baby, so he just meant so much. Sho is much less approachable. He’s too rough around the edges. He’s too. But I think ultimately, the answer is something that my man Merce said, he told me this once. He was, Man, you can’t ride a wave if you’re ahead of it or if you’re creating it. You can’t ride the wave because you created the wave. So that’s the thing about people like Sho. And I think in some ways, myself, but specifically Sho. He’s ahead of the curve always. So because of that, he can’t ever ride it because he’s ahead of it. And that’s just one of those things to where it’s, I don’t know when he’ll ever get his flowers. Except for people that get it, because he’s ahead of the curve. He’s ahead of the curve.
Zach (26:48): Man. When I tell you, because then after that, So We Live As Kings dropped then some other stuff continued, that a wave happened. To your whole point.
Propaganda (26:58): Yes. He was just above it. And like I said, when we first connected, it was like this weird twinsie kind of thing. One, because he’s from Cali, we’re from a pretty similar space. And the fact that so many times, although we are very, very distinct in our personalities there’s a lot of us that’s very similar. And how often when we put out lyrics and put out work, we text each other. Where we were just, you beat me to it. I was going to say that, but you don’t even know it’s already written. And he’ll be in the same thing, man, I can’t believe you put that. So Gentrify, Precious Purtitans he was, dawg, you beat me to it. And then, with him, with the Talented 10th and so there were certain songs on his record where I was just, oh my god dawg, I can’t, you just beat me to it bro. I was thinking the same thing, dude.
Zach (27:50): That’s so dope, man. So it’s interesting in the song, going back to this song, Misconception. So you kick off your verse, you say, «Slang came from a land where they suffer from the effects of depravity, like gangbanging and earthquakes.» And I want to get back to this man, this idea of terraforming. Frankly, you’ve been really talking about terraforming. There’s been a meta-narrative of terraformation in your content for the past fifteen years.
Propaganda (28:17): Yeah, the whole time.
Zach (28:18): Talk to me about what does that practically look like and mean today? And shoot, you know what, I’m going to be greedy. I didn’t get to ask the follow up question, which is, all the stuff around Precious Puritants and the commentary, white evangelicalism. Talk to me about your view of white evangelicalism today, after Trump, after the insurrection. Bring all that together for me too.
Propaganda (28:43): Man. So I’ll answer the last question first. Obviously, it’s an identity crisis. I think it’s hard to say about an entire group of individuals, a statement about them all. But I think as a concept or as an institution it’s defined itself. And there are those that are inside of it that are finding themselves so far down a cave that they’re, I don’t know my way out. This is not what I signed up for. So I think that there’s definitely a fraction of white evangelicalism that was, I came for Jesus. I didn’t know I had this baggage. I didn’t know it had this history, which of course, is a product of privilege. But I think there’s a reckoning and a line that was drawn in the sand. When your leadership told you, here’s the situation, this is how we vote. And this is our guy, you’re either in or you’re out.
(29:56): So it was, again, it was almost similar to my experience where it was they drew the line in the sand. And you had to decide, are you in or are you out. And I think that they made it very clear that we are siding with the extreme among us. And you have revealed that you’re deeply racist and deeply married to the status quo and want that to continue. So it left your average person sitting on the pews with an ultimatum to be, eh, if I’m getting out, what’s my alternative? And I think if I’m going to put my brain in the mind of the white evangelical, that’s the question, but where do I go then? I’m doing this to be as gracious as possible to them. Because at the same time, I’m just, it’s a voter block. White evangelicals is a voter block. It’s not a faith. It’s a voter block. And their brain’s been cooked by Q Anon and it’s just let it go. It’s not worth saving. Just forget it, they’ve made their choice. The boat’s sinking. But I do think we are in a season where what we mean by evangelical? What our denominations are? They’ve been thrown in the air and it’s going to be redefined.
(31:28): I think it’s in the same way of if you’re following our political parties in America. This is not sustainable what we’re in right now, this death spiral of partisanism. It’s just anybody who studied history all this isn’t sustainable. A nation can’t withstand this. Parties can’t withstand it. It’s going to fracture into something else. I just don’t know what that something else is. So I think that that’s the same with evangelicalism, specifically white evangelicalism. It will become something else or they’ll develop a civil war. And the civil war in America will be white evangelicals against the rest of us, because they have just put their feet in the sand.
Zach (32:10): Deeply man.
Propaganda (32:12): Yes. This is the plan of God for this nation. And God’s imagination does not have space for y’all.
Zach (32:22): Right. It’s so scary man.
Propaganda (32:24): Yeah. It’s scary. And it’s also in the idea of, as a longer view of history, it’s whoa, it’s Anabaptist. We’ve had, it’s Puritans. They disappear. Denominations disappear. It happens all the time. It’s happened all through history. You just don’t know until after. So part of me is, y’all on your way out and you just don’t know it. I don’t know what you’re going to become. But what you doing, this is some antebellum, you’re holding on to something that’s just not sustainable and you’re slowly losing power, now. And maybe you don’t know you’re in a death spiral, but you’re clearly in a death spiral unless you either abandoned ship, or you course correct. I just don’t know what to tell you. It just don’t sound like you’re going to course correct, because that whiteness is too important to you.
Zach (33:20): Yeah, man. So when I think about your book, I think about the work you’re doing now. What does it look like in this moment? I know you’re saying it’s not sustainable. I agree with you. So what does terraforming look like in this context today?
Propaganda (33:33): It means start over. It’s exactly what it means. It’s like you’re looking around at your space, whether it’s your church space, your community space, your personal space, your geopolitical space, partisan space. And you’re this is not serving us. So we need to remember that where we’ve gotten to, was just us. We imagine this, we built it and now we’re in it, which means we could tear it down and rebuild something else. But it takes, I keep going back to this idea of having a little bit of or a lot of, bit of prophetic imagination. Imagine something better. Imagine something different that serves more. That is more life-giving. That is more Christ-like. So in the space of this white evangelical you can’t somehow the religious right movement to the Phyllis Schlafly’s of the world, the Jerry Falwell, Snr., The senior of the world that created what you see as a white evangelical as we know it. Out of the clear blue sky, they made it up. All of the talking points, all of the political points, the way the church has done, they made it up.
(34:51): So since they made it up out of just the clear blue, then you could say, right now, it’s like y’all, can’t imagine something else. You can’t imagine before that. Clearly, therefore, now you can’t imagine after that. So what I’m saying is, it’s gonna take a second to imagine something else. What is this? What is it possible? I say this just as a point of interest. It’s like abortion, wasn’t always a Christian stance. Being anti-abortion and pro-life. The church wasn’t always anti-abortion. And I know that’s hard to imagine, but no, it wasn’t. It wasn’t always. It wasn’t always conservative. It wasn’t always. It wasn’t always like this, but you can’t even imagine that. So with Terraform, what I’m trying to do with this book is saying, why can’t you imagine that? What happened? We’ll try to. Well, let’s get loose, let’s do some exercises. Let’s try to imagine something else. And that’s really what I was hoping to do with the poetry, and the art with this book.
Zach (36:07): So speaking of that, talk to me about your process for writing. You’ve been a writer the whole time. I think my mom always told me that a good writer does a good read. I know you’ve been consuming content.
Propaganda (36:22): Yeah.
Zach (36:22): Talk to me about this process of when do you know what your writing is going to be a poem, versus a song, versus a book? How do you parse that out?
Propaganda (36:32): I think for me, yeah I’m definitely concept first. And I would add to your mom’s axiom, which is true, a good writer is a good reader. I also say a good writer is a good listener, good observer. Because I think I’m personally a slow reader. So a lot of times it’s audio books or it’s podcasts because I just read slow. But the absorption of ideas and a pf concept and various ways of thinking about things, various ways of looking at things. And then self-reflection becomes, just like the raw, periodic table of what I’m going to write about. But you don’t know if it’s a poem or a song until you start writing. And then, for poetry, I think for me it starts with a really good turn of phrase. If I have a really good sentence or really good turn of phrase in my mind, I’m like the poems done. It’s already written. It’s just zipped up into that sentence. I can sit it over on the shelf and come back to it later.
(37:41): Like dear Board of Education, so are we? Done. The poems done. It’s in that. I’ve just gotta unpack that at some point in the book, «if coffee were a man, it’d be a black man». Poem’s done. It’s already in it. The sentence is strong enough. You just have to take your time, and for me that’s when I started rubbing my hands together. That’s the Birdman cash money row where I’m, all right, here we go. I’ll get to it. It’s already there. The work’s already there. I’m not the artist. I’m the canvas it’s already in it. So a lot of my work is that. Once I’ve already got that. If I’ve got that phrase, if I’ve got that turn of phrase, I’m like, we’ll just see how it plays out. But that’s really my process. I absorb a lot. And then, if I can get it into a phrase or word that is chuck full meaning enough, then I’m, oh yeah. Then it’s just a matter of unpacking it.
Zach (38:39): So you talk about absorbing, you talk about listening. I remember, remember I told you, I’ve been around.
Propaganda (38:46): You’ve been around.
Zach (38:46): I’ve been following you for a while. I’ve been around. So I remember when you got excited about Lux’s third round.
Propaganda (38:53): Yes. Or the battle. Yeah Loaded Lux.
Zach (38:57): Yeah, man. I’m trying to figure out, do you listen to [inaudible 00:39:00] like that? Are you like a battle–
Propaganda (39:02): Yeah. I think I do. I do now. I’m in dad mode recently, so I haven’t been keeping up like I wish I could. But I know who’s spiting and who’s not. Yeah.
Zach (39:14): So let’s talk about it. Because I’m trying to figure out, I’m curious to get your perspective on how, if at all, does that influence your art? Is that a part of, as you think about the table of contents, you’re engaged?
Propaganda (39:27): No, I think for me anybody who watches WWE, it’s this is wrestling to where I’m, it’s really entertainment. And it’s so far, that type of battling, it is so far removed from the battling that I did. That I’m like, it’s a whole other sport. It’s a whole other genre. It’s like a boxer watching UFC, to where you’re this is different. So I can appreciate it for what it is. But yeah, people have asked me a few times like, Hey man, you’re ever going to get back into this thing? I’m no, bro.
Zach (40:01): Into battle rapping?
Propaganda (40:02): Because I came from it and I’m, nah, this is different.
Zach (40:05): But this era though.
Propaganda (40:08): Yeah. That’s what I’m saying. This era is different. I’m not battling the dudes. Are you kidding me? No. First of all, I’ve got my title belts. They’re already hanging. I am not putting that in jeopardy. I’m not putting my legacy in jeopardy, number one. And number two, like I said, it’s a different sport. I’m out here. I would be like an iPhone V. I was great for my time. You feel me? But these plugs are on 5G out here. I know my place.
(40:42): But I will say, what it does for me rather than writing content. It just keeps me connected to the culture, because as a dad, as somebody touring it’s easy to get away from the pulse of the culture. So for me, that’s really the biggest role it plays. I want to stay connected. Who hot? Who’s that young spitter? And then, even with just listening to just who’s on the streets right now. Who’s that, who’s hot in the streets right now? What are they talking about? Where’s the music going? Just as someone that’s just a fan,. And I think that’s actually full circle to the Cross Movement stuff. They would say so much on things about, oh man, hip hop is evil.
(41:23): This is a means to preach the gospel. And I love hip hop, but I don’t understand. I feel like this is God’s. This is the Lord’s gift to us. Hip hop saved my life. I don’t know what to tell you. So, I love it. So you’re tripping, then why do you rap? And so, again, we’re talking a long time ago thing. So for me, I still love the scene. I still love hip hop. So I stay into the battle rap stuff, just because I love it.
Zach (41:58): So that’s a good segue man. You’ve got some projects coming down the pipeline. What’s next?
Propaganda (42:03): Oh, you know it, man. There’s three other Terraform EPs. There’s one that’s being mixed right now. They’re named after the sections in the book. So if you get the book, there’s four sections – the sky, the soil, the people and the possibility. So the people is already out. So then the next EP is called, The Sky.
Zach (42:23): That’s hard, man. Look, Prop, it’s been an honor. I appreciate you.
Propaganda (42:28): Thank you man.
Zach (42:28): Look, we consider you a friend of the show. Y’all listen, the book is called Terraform – Building A Better World. We’ve been talking to Prop, and he goes by Prop. He’s a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but make sure you check out the book. It’s another show in the show notes, click the link. Make sure you cop, it’s fire. Your mans, they sent me a copy so I was able to get started. Very excited. And it’s very approachable. And actually I was, which isn’t shocking considering the history of your art, but I appreciate it. Because sometimes I don’t know, man, people be. People be trying to talk over your head. I’m man, can you just get to the point dog?
Propaganda (43:03): Yeah bro, that was one thing. One of my biggest critiques, the pushback, even from the editor was, let’s make sure, they don’t want to understand it five years from now. Let’s understand it now. So I was, yeah. Okay. So they really pushed at me to really massage this stuff and I’m so glad they did.
Zach (43:23): All right Proper. Look, man. I want you to take care of me. Well, I’ll talk soon.
Propaganda (43:26): All right family.
Zach (43:27): Peace.
Voice-over (43:31): Living Corporate is brought to you by The Leadership Range, a podcast within the Living Corporate network. Hosted by globally certified and Fortune 500 executive coach and leadership development expert, Neil Edwards. The Leadership Range is focused on having real, raw, soulful and accountable conversations about inclusive leadership, allyship, professional development. Every week is a new episode with new learning and new actions to take on, to grow inclusively. Make sure you check out The Leadership Range everywhere you listen to podcasts.
Zach (44:05): And we’re back. Hey, I want to thank our Propaganda. Thank you so much. Shout out to him and the team. Shout out to Terraform. Make sure you cop the book, link is in the show notes. All right, look, it’s important that we remember that nothing’s going to change systemically without actually engaging systems. We have to start to get beyond using these words and not applying them practically. So when we say there’s systemic problems, that means that there’s systemic issues, which means that we have to actually change and engage those systems and to change those systems. We have to think systemically, we have to be imaginative. We have to be courageous. And I get it, I’m looking on LinkedIn and I see a bunch of folks getting promoted and a lot of us black folks specifically on brown folks, we’re in these places that discouraged systems thinking it’s easier and a lot of different ways to go along and get along to play the game you’re playing yourself, but I get to ‹play the game’. And they hand you your 10% raise, or your 15% raise maybe with a senior in front of your title, and you’ve made it right.
Zach (45:21): But that doesn’t actually create systems change. That doesn’t impact generations later down the road. It’s ego to think that when you get to the top of this system, you’re going to change the whole system. That’s ego, because there’s no history that we have of anybody getting into a senior position, and then changing the game from the inside. That’s not a true thing. It’s just not. I want you to receive that, because once you can really appreciate and understand that the systems are broken. So it doesn’t matter if we have representational diversity that doesn’t equate to a systemic justice or transformation. Yeah. The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. Archie Lord. We have to engage systems outside of the home. We need to create systems and use those systems, against systems, against current systems. You beat systems with a system. You don’t beat systems by trying to fix the system.
Zach (46:33): Anyway, look, it’s a hard week. There’s gonna be a lot of emotions and feelings everyone’s going through as we continue to process the Derek Chauvin sentencing. I hope it’s as you take care of yourself, let folks know about Living Corporate, give us a review or three. Share with a friend or five we’ll catch up with you later. Peace.