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Rebels With a Cause

17 Nov 2007

Pound's Editors talk about their new book "Enter The Babylon System"

So where did the name Babylon System come from?

The name Babylon System is an old school Reggae term. When doing the magazine early on, we wanted to have a political section in the magazine and we thought Babylon system was a good representation of that, so the column started off really simply where we would collect information that was already researched and available and compile it in our own way. Chris [Christian Pearce Senior Editor of Pound Magazine] really started to get more complex with it, started to do interviews and really do new investigative reporting and that’s when it really grew.

How did you pick the subject matter?

It was supposed to be about a lot of things, not just guns. But when we got together with the publishers, they said “this is great, but this would be a 3000 page book so pick one subject”. And we thought firearms and gun violence comes up so often in Hip-Hop. We never even tried to talk to people about it. Everyone's got a story and it’s something we need to talk about.

What does this book mean to Hip-Hop?

One of the main things we wanted to do was bring back the relevance of Hip-Hop as a political voice. I think a lot of people have forgotten everything Hip-Hop brings to the public discourse. It’s so much more than what we see on the music channels. Everybody thinks that’s what Hip-Hop is and that takes away from the credibility of the culture. Chris and I said No, you know what? There are still real stories to be told and we want to claim some of that back for Hip-Hop and show that Hip-Hop has a voice to contribute to the whole community.

How did you work through the controversy surrounding the book?

It was just a question of finding out whether or not I had done anything to make me liable and I hadn’t. It has been a tactic of the gun industry to intimidate people, journalists and other people within the gun lobby that don’t toe the line. It’s just a familiar motive for them to scare people off the trail.

What does this mean for Pound magazine and the Hip-Hop community?

For Pound it’s good. It’s a shot in the arm for us. We’ve been doing it for a long time and it was starting to become stagnant, a bit routine. This [book] refocuses and reenergizes us. It gives us more exposure, so it’s good for the brand.

For Hip-Hop, it’s a challenge for people to read the book first and second to ask ourselves some questions that the book gives rise to; should we really be promoting the brands of manufacturers that flood our communities with firearms? Is that really something wise or productive to be doing? To be shouting out RUGER and GLOCK who doesn’t give a shit about what happens to young minority youth in the cities while they’re out in the suburbs sipping martinis and profiting from our misery.

Are you calling for a Jay-Z-like boycott on firearms?

I guess so. It’s along those same lines. That’s like an indication of Hip-Hop realizing the power that it has. That’s the other part of the challenge; people realizing that we have the power and accept responsibility for how we’re using it; not making any excuses about it’s just entertainment or the parents have to take responsibility. We’ve heard all that before. Sometimes the parents aren’t there to take responsibility and sometimes it doesn’t come across as entertainment. People get it twisted. So we have to be responsible for all those possibilities.

From Hip-Hop heads to political junkies, Rodrigo Bascunan and Christian Pearce strive to provide the means to comprehend a seemingly impenetrable system.


Enter the Babylon System is available now at www.amazon.ca

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