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Photos Courtesy of SKL
MASHPEE – “Flippin” or ‘Flipping Bags’ are street slang for selling heroin, a significant problem in communities throughout the USA. Among the hardest hit are Native American communities with the Mashpee Wampanoag having the highest per capita rate of deaths due to opioid overdoses. A collective of young Mashpee Wampanoag MCs, dubbed the Soul Poet’s Syndicate and a pair of native record producers decided to ‘flip the script’ and used the term as the title of their anti-opioids campaign anthem.
After attending the sixth funeral, in as many months of a tribal member who lost their battle with addiction, Mashpee Wampanoag tribal member, Mwalim DaPhunkee Professor (Morgan James Peters) and production partner Eddie Ray Johnson (Choctaw) came up with the idea of producing a song, by young members of the community that addressed the local heroin dealing head on. Mwalim, a multi-award-winning songwriter and producer as well as a member of the band and production unit, The GroovaLottos began approaching various members of the tribe who were into MCing about participating in the project.
“… you’ve destroyed people’s lives and messed up their health. You’ve doneirreparable damage, I hope you’re happy with yourself…” – The Z.Y.G. “Flippin”
The GroovaLottos decided to develop the project through their affiliated non-profit organization, Song Keepers, Ltd which also has an artist mentoring and development component. Through Song Keepers, LTD the band members sought and received support from a number of sources including the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Osborne Foundation, and individual philanthropist, Rachel Carey- Harper.
The GroovaLottos had the young spoken-word artists use a journalistic approach to creating their verses. They had to research the topic, the statistics, the effects, the causes, and the results. They also required that the writers could not curse in the song. According to Mwalim, “We had about 9 folks who were interested, but when it came to putting in the work, three were ready.” Mashpee Wampanoag tribal members Keon Jackson (Young Sumo), Morgan “ZYG” Peters (The Z.Y.G.), and Jahiem Frye (J Dolla) took out their phones, got behind the mic, and represented.
“… the community’s got issues and we can’t resolve them. Your whole game is played and you’re part of the problem…” – J Dolla “Flippin”
The track was initially produced in Down Streeter Studios in Mashpee, with additionalproduction and mixing at Area Twenty-Two Studios in Plymouth. The track will be released on the LM3 and SKL labels and will be made available as a free download.
The Soul Poet’s Syndicate is a collective of affiliated MCs and spoken-word artists under the auspices of the Sonh Keepers, LTD’s artist mentoring program. Young Sumo, The Z.Y.G., and J-Dolla are all tribal members who are very serious about developing their careers as performers and producers. Young Sumo is a traditional singer and drummer as well as an MC who rocked the crowd of attendees at the Standing Rock fundraiser held in Boston last December. The ZYG who is an award-winning jazz drummer, featured three years in a row as a headliner at the Boston Jazz Fest has also been moving crowds all over New England as a street performer who can rap and play drums at the same time. J- Dolla, who recently relocated to North Carolina, is an aspiring producer and MC with a significant underground following on Soundcloud.
The GroovaLottos are a regional soul-funk-blues band who are quickly gaining an international following after they were selected to open the Gathering Of Nations Powwow this past April, performing in front of an estimated 48,000 people live and 1.5 million world-wide via webstream. With their critically acclaimed debut album, “Ask Yo’ Mama” making the preliminary round of The Grammys in six categories, including best producers for Mwalim and Eddie Ray; another focus of the band has been producing other artists. While they are primarily known as soul, funk and blues players, both producers are quite familiar with hip-hop from it’s foundation. Growing up in the Bronx, Mwalim’s involvement with hip-hop goes back to the 1980’s, serving as a session player on a number of old school hip-hop projects out of Jazzy Jay’s Recording Studio among others. As a touring drummer, Eddie Ray has provided beats for numerous lyricists live shows.
“Sharing songs between tribes is a long standing tradition. It’s only right to share this with all of Native America.” Stated producer & percussionist Eddie Ray Johnson, “The next phase of the project is to complete a music video for the song and to take their message nationally, recognizing that First Nations communities throughout North America are enduring the same battle with opioids.”
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