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Last year, there was a confrontation between a black male teenager and an off-duty policeman at a Prince George’s County Giant supermarket. According to Knowledge Shabazz, the young man was “really roughed up.”
“There was a lot of anger in me after that,” says Shabazz, the Maryland musician who three years ago put together Sounds of Southeast, a compilation of D.C.-area black rock bands. “So when I heard the [Prince George’s] Arts Council was giving grants again, I said,
‘OK, I’m gonna put together a compilation that is anti-violent.’”
Shabazz’s anger begat P.G. Don’t Stand 4 Punks & Guns. The compilation record’s title, which Shabazz plans to emblazon on T-shirts and bumper stickers, screams of positive hiphop sloganeering, but Punks & Guns is hardly just a rap record. Mostly it represents new-school funk à la Prince and smooth R&B by D.C.-area musicians like the Beware Band, Media, and Shabazz himself.
“When we did Sounds of Southeast everybody thought it was just going to be a bunch of go-go records,” says Shabazz, explaining the intentions of Black Rhino Records, the company that has released both of his compilations. “We’re trying to make people think beyond words, about more than just what they know as the norm.”
As a musician who doubles as an advocate for kids, Shabazz hopes he can use Punks & Guns to gain an audience who will want to listen to more than just music. “At Black Rhino, we want more to try and get junior high-school kids to keep their grades cool so that maybe they can be a foreign exchange student, for example. So that maybe they can get out of the inner city for a minute to see some other things that are going on in life.”—Brett Anderson