For someone who generally leans away from fanfare, hip-hop artist/Little Rock native Solo Jaxon has zero problems grabbing a megaphone when the moment calls for it. One of those moments happened Wednesday, when Solo found himself at the center of a demonstration in front of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home. Following a week of increasing pressure from Black Lives Matter and other networks to fund programs that improve the lives of low-income Los Angelans, Garcetti called this week for $150 million to be cut from the city’s police budget — “a step in the right direction,” Jaxon said — and redirected to environmental and housing projects. We caught up with Jaxon Friday morning. He’d just arrived in Little Rock to attend a funeral service.
Can you catch us up on what you’ve been working on out there?
As far as the music, that’s always a thing. But that kinda came to a screeching halt, so to speak, when the video of George Floyd came out. Everything came to a stop. When I saw the video, I was like, “Oh yeah. It’s about that time again.” Everything else had to get put on the back burner. It wasn’t even intentional. It just happened, you know what I’m sayin’? The music is still great. I’m still working on a lot of stuff.
How has the pandemic changed your year?
Oh, yeah. Well, it didn’t really throw me off that much. When these things happen, I feel like it’s these are opportunities to learn and to change your perspective, to see things from different angles. You realize this is just more time to better prepare. I definitely plan on going on tour this year. I plan on dropping projects. But it did give me more time to just plan properly. That way, the execution can be flawless. Other than that, man, I’ve just been chillin,’ you know? I’m buying plants. I’m reading more. And just really taking that time to unwind. It’s unfortunate that I’m home [for the reasons] I am, but I’ve been looking forward to taking a road trip for a while, and I got to drive to come see my family. This is just more time to prepare, so that when the world does open back up, I can come out swingin.’
So, I follow you on Instagram and I came across this snapshot of you with a megaphone in the middle of a crowd of demonstrators. How did that moment come to be? What’s been your involvement?
Honestly, it just happened. There was a protest, and as the protest continued, we met up with three other protests, and one thing I did just led to another. People had good ideas and we ran with them. The guy that was standing next to me, Clinton, we had come up with an idea of what our goal was when we made it to the mayor’s house. So basically, our biggest thing was just to communicate with the protesters as to what our plan would be. One hundred percent transparency the whole way. Because this is not my protest. It’s not about me. My feelings or judgments about the whole situation is not the only valid perspective. When we got there, Black Lives Matter already had a protest there, and so we basically just converged into two groups, and kept everybody up to speed on what the end goal was, and what the sole purpose of us was being in front of the mayor’s crib. Somebody told me, just grab the megaphone and let everybody know what’s goin’ on. So that’s what I did. “We’re not here to cause problems. We’re not here to riot. We’re here to start conversations.”
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Lemme start by saying yesterday’s protest energy was incredible. Unintentionally, along with a few other great people (like Clinton, the brother in the green jersey & then some), we led 1000+ protesters to @mayorofla’s home in an effort to start a dialogue between the people of LA & the cops. It was one of our goals to have one protest conclude w/ no one getting hurt or arrested. While in Hollywood, we ran into 3 seperate protests. We all got together and made our way. After marching 10 miles AT LEAST, we arrived to the Mayor’s house, w/ @blmlosangeles already there. Everyone was beautiful. I want to make it crystal clear that the I personally don’t belong to any organization. The protest leaders I marched with also didn’t belong to any organziation. This was all the power of people genuinely working together to make this place safer for ourselves and our future. We spoke to each other w/ respect & love & maintained the message that we didn’t want any problems, we didn’t come to riot, & that everyone’s safety was first priority. Thank you to @mnkr_brand for catching the first video. Idk who made the reddit post but thank you to them too. This isn’t just for #georgefloyd, #breonnataylor, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, & Sandra Bland. This is for every black and brown person of any orientation that has been unjustly mistreated or murdered by the cops.
One thing we hear from people of color is that George Floyd is one of many, many black people who have been killed at the hand of police; that this is not new. Why do you think this moment is happening now, where people all over the world are protesting? Not, like, with Tamir Rice? Or Trayvon Martin? Or Breonna Taylor?
I just think ultimately that people are just beyond, beyond-beyond fed up. I think in the past, for some people, there hasn’t been enough to see that the cops were in the wrong. And right now, we’re seeing that. It’s just being more and more proven. It was already there, but the whole world is seeing it, and waking up to it, and I just think it’s time. I don’t know if there’s a specific reason as to: Why this case? It just is. I’m just glad it’s happening.
I know that you’re a person who thinks a lot about media and technology, and I would guess that hasn’t changed since you moved to LA. Is there, in your view, something that the media is missing or something that’s being misunderstood widely about these protests in general?
Well, I think that’s a reason people are starting to mobilize. Information travels so fast. Back in the day, with the likes of Martin Luther King or the Freedom Riders, when they were protesting, information traveled really slow. They didn’t have social media. They didn’t have cell phones. Now, we got Twitter. We got Instagram. Text messages, all kinds of mediums, to get the message sent. We can mobilize a lot more quickly and stay organized.
Sometimes you see videos of people of color, mainly black people, getting mistreated, and commenters want to say, like, “We need context, we need context.” At the end of the day, sometimes you don’t need context. When you have 10,000 accounts all tweeting from the same location, and the news stations reports something one-sided, people all over the world can see the truth. People are gonna run to Twitter before they’re gonna run to the news stations. It’s unfiltered. It’s uncensored. You see it for what it is. It’s the honest-to-God truth because it’s being reported by people on the ground, versus people on the sidelines, or people who are biased. I think that’s a huge contribution to why people are standing up and getting active.
What’s important to you to do with this moment, either while you’re here or when you head back to LA?
Yeah. Well, while I’m here, I definitely want to make the most of my time, pop out, show my support in any way I can. So I’ve reached out to people I know here, and strangers, too, like, “Yo, let me know where the protests are.” I’m super proud to see the city and the state moving the way it has been. That they’re staying strong, and that they’ve been peaceful, you know, within reason. At the end of the day, we have a lot of reasons to be angry. And people have been organized, and I feel like it’s very productive. Moving forward, going back to LA, I would like to be a part of more protests that push this message of “This is wrong,” and it’s not that hard to fix. It’s really not. People want to make it difficult, they want to make it this long drawn-out process. Beyond the protests, making sure actionable change is put into place. Not only demanding the justice that affected families need, but reforming how our criminal justice system operates. First off, we need accountability for the powers that are supposed to protect us. It starts with accountability, and then we can move forward.
It’s kinda crazy. When we were leading the protest you saw in those videos, everybody thought we were part of an organization — Black Lives Matter or another division. I thought that was amazing, it just went to show that you don’t need an organization to make a difference. That was what was so beautiful about it. That’s no shade to what anybody’s got going, but it just further strengthened the narrative that people, if they come together, it can work. I want to be a part of that.