[artist id="2366316"]Fonzworth Bentley[/artist] says "knowledge is the new currency" — he wanted to get rebellious and deep on his new song and video "Fireside Chat."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his fireside chats to the country in the '30s and '40s; Bentley's "Fireside Chat" talks to the hip-hop community.
"It's kinda heavy for some heads," Bentley said. "Some kids, it's gonna be heavy for them. They don't wanna be reminded they have a responsibility."
Bentley's song stresses education and community responsibility and calls for more substantial hip-hop music. The video shows montages of images ranging from lynchings of young black men, Rosa Parks and Rush Limbaugh up to the protest in the wake of the Sean Bell shooting.
"I did this song for Black History Month and possibly for my EP," Bentley explained. "Originally I wanted to put it out at the top of Black History Month. I was thinking through things. I was like, Black History Month — first of all, it's the shortest month. Second of all, we're gung-ho the first couple of weeks, then towards the end, you don't hear nothing. Have you heard anything about Black History Month this week? Not at all. I just think that, ultimately for us, in this generation, it's a time to really reflect and learn something new about yourself. I said if we could just do that, I think that you would be doing yourself a good service. If learn about yourself, you're going to do what it is you're supposed to do. You'll understand you're standing on the shoulders of somebody else.
"The piece was basically a fireside chat to African-Americans, but it was to also hip-hop. Hip-hop was a completely new genre of music. It's like someone saying, 'Go home and create a completely new genre of music.' What? We created a completely new genre of music that is beautiful, ultimately to express ourselves about what was going on in our communities because we didn't feel we had a voice ... we said things to empower the community. To me, that has been missed. The most important words in that piece to me is 'There's a lot of folks that die for these rights/ We act like we don't know it,' which is at the beginning. Then at the end it is 'These stripes and stars used to evoke better bars.' That's not deniable."
Fonz says he has more inspiring songs in his vaults.
"Oh yeah. I went to [Morehouse College], the same school as Martin Luther King Jr," he said. "I went to the same school as Spike Lee. I went to the same school and Maynard Jackson, the first African-American mayor of Atlanta."
Bentley, signed to Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label, said he plans to work with 'Ye in Hawaii very soon. He's putting The Cool Outrageous Fingerprint EP this summer and his full-length C.O.L.O.R.S. is due later this year.