By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
JG would seem an unlikely radical leftie. His parents emigrated to New York City from Haiti, where both attended City College of New York, from which only his father graduated. They moved to Omaha, where JG grew up, though they made regular visits back to Haiti. "It's a culturally homogenized state," he says of Nebraska. "I was the only black face most of the time -- white schools, white parties, white girls." In eighth grade, however, JG attended a concert in Minnesota, where the just-emerging Rage Against the Machine was playing a benefit on behalf of Leonard Peltier. "Zack de la Rocha blew me away," he says of the lead singer and lyricist for the group. JG became a devotee of the groups Bad Brains and the Clash. From there, he began reading political literature, like the works of linguistics professor and political dissident Noam Chomsky. He received a bachelor's degree in political science at St. Louis University and then attended St. Thomas University in Miami, where he received a BA in English and liberal studies.
While at St. Thomas, he met Haviken Hayes, who had begun deejaying while a young teen. (His stage name derives from lyrics by Black Thought of the Roots: "It's hard to see through the havoc and haze.") He evolved into serious mixing and for a while had an agent, who introduced him to JG. That led to friendship, then collaboration. JG has since moved to Naples, where he owns a landscaping business, but drives to the east coast two or three times a week. Hayes works for an environmental testing company in Miramar.
Early this year, they recorded a demo CD, which they sell at their performances, and began sending it out to political and grassroots organizations and record labels. "We started to establish a rapport with Sweatshop Watch in Oakland, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and Latin America Solidarity Coalition," JG says. While in California in February during the so-called Truth Tour that was part of the hunger strike, Over the Counter Intelligence performed at numerous colleges, as well as the L.A. House of Blues. (A video stream of their performance at the hunger strike is at www.ciw-online.org.)
The Immokalee coalition's Asbed recommended the duo to the Latin America Solidarity Coalition, which was one of the groups planning an April rally and march in D.C. Thus, Over the Counter Intelligence marched with the Tour of Shame, which stopped first at Taco Bell, where the two performed "Hunger Days."
"Everyone went nuts," recalls Jon Everhart, an organizer with the coalition, of the duo's brief performance. "It was a peak as far as energy goes." The march moved on to the Inter American Development Bank and Occidental Petroleum and ended across the street from the offices of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
During a fundraiser the night before, the pair had unleashed "Intestines for Oil," an antiwar song written for the occasion.
"The inspiration for the title came from one of the online independent news syndicates," JG explains. "There was a picture of this mother standing over this coffin, a large coffin, a coffin for four or five adults, and there were three of her children. They were lying side by side. Their heads were aligned. The middle child's intestines were sprawled over the torso and face of the other two children. It was one of the most gruesome sights I'd ever seen."
JG offers up a few verses, and his voice fills quickly with fury.
I hope Jesus weeps tonight/
on a crucifix laden with fright
a whored relic used to
flex AmeriKKKas might/
our brothas and sistas pay tha cost
of a love loss between
a Texas cop and a Iraqi boss/
a crusade in tha name of oil and ya drug-dealing pops/
tha stars and stripes may as well be a cross
Intestines for oil
little child pay tha cost
Fuck tha stars and stripes
they may as well be a cross.
Taking a few deep breaths, JG waits for the power of his words to dissipate. He sits down and smiles expectantly.