Dumi Right unites Outspoken, Sykotek, and KHz Pro (production) for his new single/video “Stay Focused.” The vetted emcee/songwriter/performing artist/cultural ambassador is famed for mastering timeless music and “Stay Focused” is no exception. On the scene strong since the golden age, Dumi proves just why he’s a staple in Hip Hop culture and music. Before watching the video, tap into the full interview with Dumi below where he discusses the creation of the video, current and upcoming endeavors, his role in Hip Hop, and more.
“With so much going on in the world in the grip of a global pandemic, it is easy to be overwhelmed and lose focus. This head-nodding track serves as a call to action and a reminder that we should always rise to the challenge, even if the odds seem insurmountable. It also speaks to bridging the gap between generations to help propel us to a brighter Afro Futuristic plane. As the chorus implores, “Focus on the challenges we’re facin’, Music that’ll spark elevation, Trying to change the current situation, Building with the next generation…”
MJ: For those who might be unfamiliar with Dumi Right, let’s begin by introducing you. Your history in Hip Hop dates to Zimbabwe Legit, one of the first Hip Hop groups in Africa to receive global recognition. How did that experience pave the way for you as an emcee, songwriter, and performing artist?
Dumi: When I first came out, all I wanted was for the world to hear the story of a young dude from Africa, a “brother from the Mother” that had been drawn to the power and magnetism of Hip Hop. Back in 1992, my group Zimbabwe Legit dropped a groundbreaking EP that included production from Black Sheep’s Mr. Lawnge and DJ Shadow. Since then, I’ve remained deeply immersed in the art and culture performing domestically and internationally and recording critically acclaimed albums and unique projects. I like to live by the phrase, “Don’t let your past be brighter than your future” so I was never one to rest on my laurels. Even though back then we were written up in Billboard magazine, The Source, and yeah even “Word Up! Magazine” that I read from cover to cover admiring my favorite rap stars like the Biggie lyric says, I knew that if I didn’t keep pushing and keep moving, I could easily fall off. When we first got started, international Hip Hop was by no means at the scale that it is today. There wasn’t a well-defined blueprint on how to make the connection between Hip Hop in other parts of the world and what was going on in the US at the time, and so I had to navigate and learn by trial-and-error style. I loved the fact that we could give voice to a whole segment of the culture that many people may not have been familiar with and bring a unique perspective and view of the world through the music. Also coming out at that time meant that I was a de facto ambassador of sorts, representing a bunch of people like myself. That meant I had to come correct and make a mark because a lot of eyes were watching, and I felt the weight of people who were counting on me to be successful. Having that pressure from the get-go gave me the drive and perseverance to realize that failure wasn’t an option and that I always needed to put my best foot forward. You don’t realize at the time the impact what you do might have, but hearing from people how that initial splash was an inspiration is definitely humbling and very deeply appreciated.
MJ: You are not only respected as an emcee but also as a cultural ambassador. How did that role come into fruition? How does it tie into your music?
Dumi: Coming out of the international scene, I have always had a desire to connect with artists from all over the globe. Knowing how Hip Hop culture influenced and inspired me growing up and so I understood how important it was to build bridges and community globally. As a result, for many years I worked on collaborations, projects, and initiatives that involved artists from countries around the world. I later heard about a formal opportunity to practice many of the things I had been doing already, by teaching Hip Hop overseas through a program called Next Level. A DJ friend of mine had participated in the first edition of that program and he told me that it was amazing and that I needed to apply. I did and was selected to teach emceeing in Thailand a few years ago. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my music career and even my life in general. It was an extension of the work that I had been doing but it also allowed me to build with up-and-coming emcees and teach the principles of Hip Hop and performing as well as learn more about Thai culture and the people. It was an affirmation that I was doing meaningful work and strengthened my resolve to continue to be a global connector and bring artists together through music.
MJ: Your latest video “Stay Focused” features Outspoken and Sykotek with production by KHz Pro. Before we dive into the content of the video, tell us how everyone linked up with each other. The filming aspect alone of the video is incredible.
Dumi: Outspoken is one of my favorite emcees from Zimbabwe. He has insightful rhymes that address the times, and he is a very versatile artist. I have performed with him when his group visited the US and we collaborated on a previous song and video. My homie Khz cooked up this head-banging track and as I was formulating an idea of what I wanted to do with it, I realized he’d be the perfect artist to collaborate with on it. He also works quickly, and the finished product is always dope. I was introduced to Sykotek by a mutual friend and really liked the way he rhymed and the way he seamlessly transitioned between languages. He raps in English but can stop on a dime and start spitting in Ndebele and he’s got crazy skills doing both. Also having previously done a song called “Doin’ Damage in My Native Language” it seemed appropriate to have him carry the torch and represent that here. In addition, the three of us had collaborated last year on a Covid-19 awareness song for a project that a counterpart was putting together. That song “In These Days and Times” turned out well and our styles complimented each other so I felt we needed to do it again for this. We are all in different countries, Outspoken in Harare, Zimbabwe; Sykotek was in Johannesburg, South Africa at the time and I am based in Washington, DC but we were able to get on the same page and record music first and then later the video to bring the “Stay Focused” concept together.
MJ: What was the inspiration behind “Stay Focused”? Did the video meet/exceed your expectations?
Dumi: The song basically talks about following through on what your goals are despite distractions, setbacks, or roadblocks. It also speaks to connecting with the next generation to build a stronger community and change sub-optimal situations or circumstances that we might find ourselves in. The beat slapped so hard that I knew I needed something high energy to match it. I did a couple of different things for the chorus but then I thought it would be dope to switch it up and have someone else rock the hook and summarize the whole concept. I loved what Outspoken did with it and that set the stage for everything else. I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to pull off a video given our different geographic locations, but the guys were all keen to try it out and made plans to record their footage and send it to me for editing. Another longtime friend and collaborator by the name of Magee offered to edit it all together and he did it seamlessly like the pro that he is. The footage was shot in 3 different countries, and he took the challenge of weaving the story together and he did an amazing job. It exceeded all expectations for me even though I know he’s a wizard with video. He’s directed and edited a lot of African Hip Hop music videos but also works in the field so has edited numerous films and documentaries, so it was certainly within his realm of capability, and it shows.
MJ: It seems at times music that offers empowerment and motivation that wake up and stimulate our core and minds, has fallen by the wayside. As an emcee and cultural ambassador, what is your blueprint to ensure “Stay Focused” doesn’t take a back seat to the monotony that is being saturated on the airwaves and in communities?
Dumi: The first thing for me is not being influenced by the flavor of the month trends prevailing in the industry. Understanding who I am and what my authentic and unique voice is means I can exercise the freedom to not go along with whatever is trendy now and stay focused on my grind and the work that I’m trying to do. I also know that saying something in music might mean it might not be highlighted in those mainstream circles so finding alternative outlets and audiences to amplify the messages that we’re dropping and spread the word about what we’re doing. I focus on non-typical music outlets but also leverage the global Hip Hop community to find the eyes and ears that appreciate that raw and true Hip Hop sound and lyrics. Like-minded people are out there, you just have to find them. I do work in Hip Hop education and so this type of music also finds receptive audiences in those types of forums as well. And a wise man once said, “Market and promote, and you gotta hope, that the product is dope” (word to Q-Tip), so to begin with I always make sure that I put forth dope music with beats and rhymes that people are going to want to listen to. If you have a great product, when the audience hears it, they can’t help but appreciate it. I also lean on my network of international collaborators to help carry the messages to fans in their areas that would dig it but I otherwise might not be able to reach on my own. So essentially building an ecosystem of progressive Hip Hop on our own, knowing that we can’t count on support from the mainstream. Doing things beyond just music like workshops and panels also helps to build that community and work to “try to change the current situation” besides just dropping records. Hopefully, through all these combined efforts a major impact will be felt.
MJ: Can you share with audiences and fans what they can expect from Dumi Right in 2022? New music, more collaborations, and/or other endeavors on the radar?
Dumi: While finishing up my next solo album, I ended up inking a deal with a label in the UK to re-issue one of my prior albums on limited-edition vinyl. That will drop later this year via Chopped Herring Records. I feel like folks that cop vinyls are some of the biggest supporters and truest fans and of course, that includes many DJs, so I am thrilled that we’re going to be able to make that happen. The biggest news though is the impending launch of my new website dumiright.com very soon and a brand-new solo album, Dumi Right – Foreword to the Future. I’m real amped about this as it has been a long time coming but it has some pure heat on it. Guest artists include Chubb Rock, Speech from Arrested Development, YZ, El Da Sensei, Breez Evahflowin’, Kev Brown (on production), Emskee, and more. I had an artist in South Africa draw some ill Afro-Futuristic artwork. It will drop also on limited vinyl first and then go on all the streaming platforms thereafter. We’re putting the finishing touches on it and working on the marketing and distribution plan.
MJ: Take this time to share anything else with the world of Hip Hop…
Dumi: I just served as an executive producer and artist on a compilation series, Stop Shooting Vol 1 and 2 that features emcees and producers from all over the world speaking out about gun violence and police brutality. Lots of exciting music on those two volumes including a new single called “Global Love Warming” that includes a chorus sung by Aloe Blacc. There are so many great artists on it and they all bring very unique perspectives and styles to the table so it’s refreshing to hear…Please subscribe to my YouTube channel at https://youtube.com/dumirightmusic and follow me on Instagram, FB, and Twitter for all the latest scoop.
Connect with Dumi Right
‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Commands Huge $180M U.S. Opening, $330M Globally
The Marvel Studios sequel hunted down the biggest November launch of all time at the domestic box office. Elsewhere, Steven Spielberg’s Oscar contender ‘The Fabelmans’ opened to strong numbers in New York and Los Angeles.
The superhero sequel opened to a huge $180 million at the domestic box office to hunt down the biggest November opening of all time and the second-biggest launch of 2022 so far behind fellow Marvel Studios’ pic Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($187.4 million). And it easily wrested the weekend crown from DC superhero pic Black Adam, now in its fourth weekend.
Overseas, the Marvel and Disney tentpole debuted to $150 million for a global start of $330 million (that’s as much as DC’s Black Adam earned in its first three weeks). Europe was strong overall, led by the U.K. ($15 million) and followed by France ($13.7 million). Among all markets, Mexico placed third with $12.8 million, followed by South Korea ($8.9 million) and Brazil ($7.1 million). Wakanda Forever also opened scored the highest opening in history In Nigeria, where the film’s African premiere was held.
While Wakanda Forever didn’t match the $202 million domestic debut of Coogler’s Black Panther in 2018, it is still doing formidable business and ranks No. 13 on the all-time list of domestic launches (releases from Disney and Marvel now account for all but one of the 13), according to Comscore. The sequel’s arrival on the marquee couldn’t have been more welcome after a tough fall for theater owners.
Heading into the weekend, Wakanda Forever was tracking to debut in the $175 million range. Until now, the biggest November opening belonged to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($158 million).
Black Panther 2, playing in 4,396 theaters domestically, earned $84 million on Friday alone, one of the biggest opening days of all time and all but tying with fellow Marvel Studios title Avengers: Age of Ultron for No. 9 on the list, not adjusted for inflation. Friday’s haul included $28 million in Thursday evening previews. (Friday was Veteran’s Day.)
Coogler’s film received an A CinemaScore from audiences and strong exits on PostTrak. One difference: the first Black Panther earned a coveted A+. It played to an ethnically diverse audience, led by Black moviegoers (34 percent) and followed by Caucasians (31 percent), Latinos (21 percent) and Asian/Other (14 percent), according to PostTrak. It also played more evenly gender-wise than most superhero films, with females making up 45 percent of the audience.
In 2018, Black Panther was the first Hollywood studio tentpole to feature a predominantly Black cast and transformed into a cultural phenomenon on its way to earning more than $1.34 billion at the worldwide box office.
The sequel endured tragedy when Chadwick Boseman, who played the titular role of T’Challa/Black Panther in the 2018 film, died of colon cancer in August 2020. Wakanda Forever’s cast includes Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Danai Gurira, Florence Kasumba and Martin Freeman, as well as Marvel newcomer Tenoch Huerta as Namor and Dominique Thorne as the hero Riri Williams.
Wakanda Forever opened less than 11 percent behind the 2018 film.
“It’s an outstanding result. The first film represented such a major cultural milestone that its performance would have been challenging to follow even under normal circumstances,” says box office analyst Shawn Robbins. “This performance from a sequel almost five years later speaks to the trust audiences have in Ryan Coogler, Marvel and the entire creative team to continue the story in a respectful way after Chadwick Boseman’s tragic passing. It’s an opportunity for everyone to say goodbye to him together as the franchise moves forward with his legacy at the heart of it.”
Among superhero movies released in the pandemic era, Sony and Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home opened to $260.1 million in December 2021. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness followed in May with $187.4 million, while Thor: Love and Thunder scored $144.2 million in July. In March 2022, DC and Warner Bros.’ The Batman flew to $134 million in its launch. More recently, DC’s Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson in his first live-action superhero role, opened to a more subdued $67 million domestically.
This weekend’s other high-profile opening is Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical tale and Oscar contender The Fabelmans, which is getting a slow platform release, much as a specialty film does, in order to build word of mouth.
The Universal and Amblin Entertainment movie, opening in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, scored a strong location average of $40,000, one of the best of the year behind Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Banshees of Inisherin. Fabelmans received an A CinemaScore and boasts a 95 percent critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes.
“With The Fabelmans, Steven Spielberg has crafted one of his most personal stories yet, an incredible universal coming-of-age story that clearly resonated with audiences this weekend,” said Jim Orr, president of domestic theatrical distribution for Universal Pictures.
Back on the top 10 chart, Black Adam — as expected — took a big hit as Black Panther opened. The Dwayne Johnson pic placed second with $8.6 million for a domestic tally of $151.1 million. Overseas, it cleared the $200 million to finish Sunday with a worldwide total of $352.2 million.
Universal’s romantic comedy Ticket to Paradise continued to hold well, falling only 29 percent to $6.1 million for a domestic cume of $56.5 million and $150 million worldwide.
Sony’s family pic Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile fell just 5 percent to $3.2 million for a muted domestic tally of $40.8 million and $75.6 million worldwide.
Paramount’s blockbuster horror entry Smile rounded out the top five in North America with $2.3 million as it hit $210 million worldwide.
Among Oscar contenders, Banshees placed No. 7 with $1.7 million from 960 locations for a domestic total of $5.6 million.
MGM and UAR’s Till, coming in No. 9, saw its domestic total hit $8 million over the weekend.
Ye Unable to Sell ‘White Lives Matter’ Merch Due to Existing Trademark
Owned by Black radio hosts Ramses Ja and Quinton Ward of Civic Cipher.
They said they hoped that “best-case scenario”, the phrase would drop out of use over the coming months, although they feared it had “staying power”.
The trademark was filed on the day West wore a T-shirt at his surprise Paris Fashion Week show with an image of Pope John Paul II on the front and the phrase written on the back. The garment caused several members of the audience to walk out of the show and sparked widespread criticism around the globe. However, the initial purchaser of the trademark, a listener of the pair’s radio show who wishes to remain anonymous, transferred it to Ja and Ward’s company, Civic Cipher LLC, weeks later.
By purchasing the trademark, they hoped to prevent anyone from potentially profiting off the term, which has been categorised as a hate slogan by the Anti-Defamation League. The phrase has been used by white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The trademark prevents anyone from selling any garments or other items bearing the phrase, meaning West will not be able to release the item shown in Paris.
The incident, and several anti-Semitic comments made by West in interviews in the weeks afterwards, have led to several high-profile brands, including adidas and Balenciaga, cutting ties with the rapper.
Edurk Black Pablo And His Many Industry Hats Are Taking Over
CEO of Awol GCode Promotions Edurk Black Pablo is taking over the scene with his label and as an entrepreneur, rapper, singer, producer, and musician. Based out of Alabama, his label currently has four signed artists and is expanding nationally and internationally.
Pablo’s acclaimed career set off in 1996 as a member of Dayton Family signed to a major deal with Relativity Records. The charting single “F.B.I.” peaked on Billboard 200 at #45. He then went on to collaborate with industry mixers and Hip Hop legends including Master P. ‘Down South Hustlers’ and 36 Mafia’s ‘Chapter II- World Domination’ reigned as 2 Gold albums. Soon after Pablo toured with Insane Clown Posse for a 50-state tour.
“I’ve been to prison, lost everything I had, lost my parents within a week apart, lost my brother, and ongoing life’s struggles forces you to keep pushing on. That’s what I do and intend to continue doing.”
As a solo artist, Pablo released his latest single/video “Tear Me Down” which has been creating a global frenzy. The track featuring T.Rell and Ziggy Zig Zag ranks at #60 on Top Independent Charts and #161 on Top Global Charts. Not giving himself any time to breathe, Pablo is also in the studio with multiplatinum producer Faided Beatz cooking up some new music, set to begin a summer tour with Gucci Mane’s artist Enchanting, and in the works to film The Dayton Family documentary Dope Dayton Ave.” Stay tuned for a heated summer and connect with Edurk Black Pablo below. “Big things are coming. I’m blessed and keep letting God drive the car.”
Connect with Edurk Black Pablo
Facebook: Edurk Black Pablo
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