Aliya Ewing: Plans of Exodus

6 Apr

Whutupdoe Speechers?! I know I’ve been slacking on my credo to take the pressure of off Ketch with blogging support, but when I made that pledge I was a part-time social worker in between projects. The difference is now I’m a full-time social worker, heavily embedded in the grind.

But lets switch gears before I become less apologetic and more apoplectic with my rants about my day-to-day. I caught up with Aliya Ewing, a well-respected journalist in the hip hop-o-sphere with her sporadic trudging through HipHopDX.com, offering a very spiritual opinion on all things music while dodging the oft-misogynistic waters (all the while raising a young child). She bid the popular website adieu back in November in search of something different and that exodus brought her to her own promised land, culminating with the launch of her own brand new website, MyAliya.com. The site, explained by Ewing as a “compilation of personal reflections, [as well as] a platform for musicians and other respective artists,” aims to take the reader on a spiritual journey that permeates in and out of the consciousness of music and other works of art. Read below for the interview.

JYoung: I read the press release for MyAliya.com and learned that your name is Hebrew, meaning “spiritual journey.” What’s your “Aliya” been like thus far as a journalist/hip-hop head/mother?

Aliya Ewing: It’s definitely been a winding journey, but that’s the fun of it. When we can detach ourselves a bit from ‘outcomes’ — both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ — then we can enjoy watching the evolution of things, you know?

JY: Right.

Ewing: Having a child definitely put my life in a different perspective, in terms of the music and media he will be surrounded with. I’m a self-proclaimed “daughter of the Golden Era.” Hip-Hop was a huge part of my upbringing having 3 older brothers. I want my son to grow up having an abundance of meaningful art around him.

JY: How does that awareness towards finding meaningful art influence you in taking that next step with MyAliya.com?

Ewing: I’m a huge advocate of the idea of the law of attraction –that is, that ‘like attracts like’ — so as I come across more meaningful art and share that, I hope that more people begin to do the same. Likewise, with the personal reflection portion of my site (because its not just interviews), I hope that by displaying my authentic self, it will encourage others to do the same.

JY: Based off your time at HipHopDX.com, I’m sure most of your fans and readers are expecting it to be predominately about hip-hop culture. However, it seems MyAliya.com will be much more broad than that. What content can we expect?

Ewing: You’re totally right. While Hip-Hop will always be a part of me, my horizons span much much further than that. Part of the reason I left HHDX was because I was really uninspired as a whole with the direction most rappers were taking. I still listen to rap music, but a lot less than I did years ago. So my readers can expect an honest depiction of my ‘aliya’. I describe it as “a myriad of my musings, memorable moments, motherhood, mishaps, the metaphysical, music, multimedia, and much (oh yes, much!) more.

JY: If Hip-Hop is losing traction for you in the spirituality column, what inspires you most these days?

Ewing: There are still some rappers that inspire me — I can’t say enough good things about Jay Electronica. I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to interview him for my website. Then there are other rappers like Blu and Vandalyzm who I also think “get it.” To answer your question though, I’m inspired by life. I’m inspired by the not so obvious moments that often go overlooked. You can find inspiration in the most peculiar of places if you have the eyes to see it, and the ears to hear it. I learn much more from my three year old son than I’ve ever taught him, I get inspiration from literally everything. Every conversation, every walk in the park, every song lyric. well, some at least [*laughs*]

JY: I can definitely sense the essence of your website based of what you’re saying.

Ewing: The thing is, and I’ve said this before, this blog isn’t spiritual in the typical sense. I’m not trying to impose religion onto anyone, but I know that I’m looking for more meaning in my life and I’m also looking for more meaningful art. I know others are too. In our generation, we aren’t all trying to run off to live in an ashram or a monastery. But waking up in the morning and being able to feel good about life is a plus. [*laughs*] I’m just trying to share my life with people and hope they can connect with it
and maybe, just maybe, as I show you guys how my awareness is shifting — it might cause a shift in you as well.

JY: It sounds like you may have matured past what hip-hop is offering, is that the case?

Ewing: The issues with Hip-Hop are really complex. I briefly touched upon that topic in my public farewell letter to HHDX. It’s hard to pinpoint a cause — there’s the media framing what I called “the equivalent of scribbles on paper” — there’s no sense of social responsibility for most rappers. There’s the ‘almighty dollar,’ and lots of ingredients in the soup. I don’t quite know if “matured” is the appropriate term, but I’m definitely on a different path so a lot of whats played on the radio/TV doesn’t resonate with me. I can’t relate to it. I don’t want to relate to it.

JY: So what role does the music play now? You explained that there are certain rappers who get it. How does music fit into your day-to-day life now?

Ewing: I love music. Always have, and always will. I’m listening to a pretty eclectic group of musicians right now, everything from jazz to rap to international artists. People fail to realize that ‘good’ art never left us, it just became invisible. It just became much less accessible. But now, with the internet, and even with these large music festivals like South By Southwest and Coachella, people are starting to realize they have many more options than just whatever is on the top 40. So with my website, I intend to have some conversations with those I think are putting out more meaningful art.

Again though, the interviews wont be limited to musicians, I believe there’s an “art” to anything and everything, which makes us ALL artists. So I’ll be talking to people that I think are producing more meaningful art or taking more meaningful actions — people that are essentially creating a new, better, world for us all to live in. That may mean being a great musician, that may mean someone doing some type of social/community work. who knows? It’s wherever my aliya takes me.

JY: I would ask whats in your “tape deck” these days, but considering how broad MyAliya.com is, the question seems to be whats on your palette right now?

Ewing: Of course I’m loving the Danish experimental/soul duo Quadron right now –The first interview on MyAliya.com is with Robin Hannibal who is the producer for Quadron. I love pretty much ANYTHING off of the Brainfeeder label — Flying Lotus, Gaslamp Killer, Teebs. I already mentioned the rappers I’m into right now, then there’s a bunch of old school music, 60s and 70s soul and rock.I’m a huge Soft Machine fan. I could sit here forever.

[*Aliya proceeds to list like 15 more artists*]

Ewing: Keep going?

JY: [laughs] That’s fine. At that point it was a lot of names that made me do the “Kanye Shrug.”

Ewing: [laughs] I told you! I love music.

JY: One thing I’ve come to appreciate, through reading a lot of your work at HHDX, is that you seem to fight through the roadblocks of being a female in journalism without much effort. Does gender still pose a serious issue for you in terms of credibility?

Ewing: I’ve never cared about it. I never paid it any attention, so I don’t know. The only negative, sexist comments I’ve ever received were from nameless, faceless internet thugs that would never dare say it to my face.

JY: Any last thoughts about MyAliya.Com?

Ewing: You’ll never know what the topic will be. Might be motherhood, might be poetry, might be a random conversation. But I hope people walk away from each visit feeling like they’ve connected with me in some way, then go help others do the same.

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4 Responses to “Aliya Ewing: Plans of Exodus”

  1. paine April 6, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

    good interview guys. i’m checking for quadron.

  2. Meek April 6, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

    I know you ain’t calling me an Internet thug son… Aw heck naw… Speech is my hammer? Nah son.. I’m pulling hammers from behind this keyboard nah mean?

    Lol… In all seriousness this was a great interview. Hats off to JYoung for meaningful journalism. The “laws of attraction” definitely keep us children of the Golden Age connected to the brilliance that is Aliya Ewing. I’m excited about the new website and the new journey!

  3. Navid May 11, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    That saves me. Thanks for being so seniblse!

  4. cwpvbcln May 14, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    RM7de6 qkuqpoueswso

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