Truth Universal on Apple Music

Truth Universal

With his political messages and lyrics practically being the polar opposite of the bling-rap from his mainstream counterparts at Cash Money Records, Truth Universal belongs to the lesser-known alt-rap underground in New Orleans. Originally born in Diego Martin, Trinidad, Tajiri Kamau moved to the Big Easy in 1977 at age four. Initially wanting to DJ, he dove head first into hip-hop culture in the mid-‘80s. His parents' tastes in political reggae and calypso, including that of Mighty Sparrow, Calypso Rose, and Bob Marley, informed his hip-hop collection and guided him towards artists influenced by the Islamic Five Percent Nation. Truth's career began underground, dropping several low-key, street releases, like the "Dashiki Dialogue" (2000) 12"/maxi-single and the EP Plantation Graffiti (2001). When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, he was forced to relocate to Houston, TX. The political fallout and the strain in race relations within the city in the storm's aftermath greatly agitated Truth, whose Afrocentric rhymes from thereon took on a more direct and decidedly pointed character. While he was preparing to release his debut LP, Decolonization, he happened to cross paths in early 2006 with like-minded Bay Area MC Paris, who invited Truth to join his Guerilla Funk imprint. The Decolonization effort was pushed back to late 2008, however he wound up releasing the album Self-Determination as his debut on Dragon's Breath Records in April of that year. ~ Cyril Cordor

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