Kor Element. (Photo provided by the rapper)

Poet, rapper and musician Kor Element created an anthem for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein called “Power to the People.” After reporting on the song, Truthdig wanted to learn more about the artist. The following transcript of an interview conducted by telephone was edited lightly for clarity.Truthdig Associate Editor Alexander Reed Kelly:

Hello, Mr. Element. What should I call you?

Kor Element: Kor Element. Call me Kor, Alex. We’re friends now.

Kelly: Well, Kor, thanks for taking the time to speak with Truthdig. You’re a musician. I know a few musicians, and not being too shy about what they do, they tend to profess a love for music. From what I’ve heard of your work, I feel safe assuming it’s the same for you. Let’s go back to your origins. Tell me about falling in love with music.

Element: I’ve been making music for a long time. A long, long time. Over 20 years. and when I first started it was because my best friend at the time said, “Hey, let’s start a rap group.” So we put on some beats. I started making music and voila. There’s a band named Onyx, Run-DMC, those are my main influences. And KRS-One. And so it began when I was 16, some 20-odd years ago.

Kelly: Was your music political in the beginning?

Element: The very first song I ever wrote by myself was not so much political as it was me talking about “I’m not like these other rappers” and that I’m different and I connect to something higher. I didn’t really realize what I was talking about then. I knew that I was speaking about something other than like, this secular, worldly stuff. But it didn’t feel right for me, OK? Because it wasn’t what mainstream rappers were talking about at the time. So from there I made more party music and worldly stuff. And it wasn’t until about three years ago that I really started making political music. No, that’s not true. My first major political song was in 2007, and it was called “Let My People Go.”

LISTEN: Kor Element’s “Power to the People”

Kelly: A reference to the story of Moses in the Old Testament.

Element: That’s right.

Kelly: Was that a story you were close to, growing up?

Element: My mom calls herself a “Hebrew Israelite,” which is essentially a black Jew. My mom taught me that the Jews in the Bible were black or dark-complexioned, and that we were descended from them and we are God’s chosen people. And so therefore she taught a lot of the Old Testament. Nothing of the New Testament; she’s not Christian.

Kelly: Are you religious?

Element: I don’t like using the term “religious” because religion is actually the institution with a patriarchal hierarchy, which I disagree with because I believe that we all have our own connection to divine spirit. So I like to use the term “spiritual.”

Kelly: So this early exposure to the Jewish tradition did not result in your ultimately joining a church.

Element: No, I call myself a Daoist Christian, which is actually a dichotomy. Christians say only through Jesus can you go to heaven, while the Daoists say every individual has their own path. So I combine the two believing everyone has their own individual journey to heaven and no two paths are the same. However, the Christ consciousness is where we’re trying to go. And although I am Christian, I disagree with the Christian institution that has been manipulated and used to control and murder people since the Catholic Church established in like 300 A.D. But the consciousness and the spirituality that Jesus represents is what I tune into.

Kelly: If Jesus were around today, to whom do you think he would look up or approve of on the political stage?

Element: I don’t think he would approve of any of America’s politicians. I think he would approve of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein. I don’t call them politicians, though. I call them public servants. How many people are in Congress?

Kelly: Five hundred thirty-five.

Element: So out of 535, being the voice of reason — that must be very difficult. “Let’s do this for money. Let’s do this because we have to go to war,” everyone else says. It must be very challenging. I think [Jesus] would be keeping company with people like the Dalai Lama and Eckhart Tolle. There’s a lot of conscious beings out there today who are spreading the word. The challenge is that the mainstream media is trying to poison us with nonsense. And so when we do hear truth, it resonates with us so strongly. You can actually feel truth in your heart when you hear people speaking truth. And I’m hoping when I speak with my music and my art that that is the same vibration that I am connecting with people on. I hope that in the future and today and as I move forward that I get to actually channel a portion of the Christ consciousness and put it into my music. And that is all about love and forgiveness and peace. And so if you can tune in to just those vibrations, love, forgiveness and peace, you’re tuning into the Christ consciousness, I believe.

Kelly: How would someone reading this conversation go about doing what you say?

Element: The easiest way to connect with spirit, or consciousness, or divine consciousness, is through your breath. So you could very simply begin with lighting incense, and if the reader is capable of lighting incense or taking a handful of mint and smelling the mint or smelling a flower that’s close, or some perfume or anything with a fragrance, if they’re reading this right now, before you go on, go smell something and try to fully inhale all the way down to your toes. And as you inhale this fragrance, breathe it in—stop right now, go breathe it in, go inhale, and then come back.

Now that you’re back, what were you thinking as you were breathing, as you were inhaling? Your mind completely clears, and in that clearness, in that awareness of your senses, is where you start to find peace.Kelly: As you talk and I consider your music and your support for Jill Stein, I hear you saying that these practices are connected to the kind of politics that are good for humanity. Where do these two things come together?

Element: Let’s start with — as far as the politics go — and as far as the legal system, laws are concerned — I don’t know what is the proper path to go. When it comes to all of the legal jargon, I don’t know what we’re supposed to do. I only know for myself what is right and what is wrong. And that goes for everyone. Every individual can only know what is right and what’s wrong for themselves. And then you have the option — for me it’s a moral obligation, but for others it’s an option — to do what is right. And a lot of people don’t necessarily do that.

WATCH: Jill Stein: ‘The Experience of Democracy’ Is More Important Than Being a Career Politician

For myself, for my own personal experience, I have learned that I want the world to be a better place, and I try to talk to people outside and I try to sway their beliefs and try to get them to see my point of view. But they have their own perspective. A very wise woman once told me that people are like fingers, and the tips are like heads or minds. No matter how hard you push two fingers together, the idea doesn’t get there, the fingers don’t combine. So the only thing you can do is go into yourself and heal in yourself that which you want to heal in other people. So, the truth is that many of us want to heal the planet, but there are also people out there who want to watch it burn. If you want to heal the planet, you have to first heal yourself. All the energy that you are taking and putting into the political atmosphere, you need to turn that energy inward and find out what inside of you needs to be healed, and heal that first.

I believe with all my heart that this political revolution we are witnessing is a physical manifestation of a spiritual revolution on planes that we cannot see or understand. So this particular election, we’re already being robbed. It’s already been robbed; the theft, the conspiracy, the racketeering. I’m still surprised that people are not calling for there to be racketeering charges on the Democratic Party.

At this point in the conversation, Kor Element said he was struck with a foot cramp.

Element: That is so strange. Now I gotta walk outside for a little bit. You do realize that when things like that happen — and those things happen all the time — that quite possibly — we all have angels — and that is one of your angels that walks with us and speaks to us and connects to us. You can call it your higher self, consciousness, a higher vibration — whatever you want. They’re here and if you tune in, you can connect to them. And sometimes they’ll give you a little foot cramp — “Don’t say that!” — which means that when bad things happen to us, they happen for a reason and it is always for the greater good. And if you can learn to live in that vibration — when bad things happen, don’t freak out — it’s so some goodness can come later on down the road. So the whole theft of this election is for the ultimate purpose of good. And if I can just say one thing that turned out good for this, it brought to light all of these underminings of our democratic system. That’s one thing that’s very good about this.

No. 2, what’s also good about this is that it allowed us to find each other. It allowed us to find those of like minds and connect. For example, Jill Stein — I’m “Bernie or Bust,” I’m still “Bernie or Bust” — and now that I met Jill Stein, I’ve been saying for a very long time that we do need feminine energy. We do need to start empowering the feminine energy to balance the masculine energy that has been running amok on this planet and destroyed it. And now that I met Jill Stein, this is the type of woman that needs to lead our nation or needs to lead a movement, because she is not only a compassionate and intelligent woman, she’s also a healer. She’s a doctor by trade. She has hope for a brighter future. She understands the need for us to really begin to have a 180-degree turnaround of our entire way of looking at the world. This is the type of revolutionary leadership that we need. A lot of people say the world isn’t ready for Bernie, but I don’t think the world is ready for the catastrophic events that are about to occur. And because of this, well, we shouldn’t say, “I told you so,” but that’s the only thing I’m gonna be able to say when the water starts rising.

Kelly: Going back to the idea of a personal transformation that can lead to clarity, peace and understanding: I wonder if you’d talk personally about your own such transformation.

Element: Alex, Alex, Alex… Am I really supposed to talk about that?

Kelly: Why wouldn’t you?

Element: I don’t know if the world is ready for that. I’m gonna sit with that and see how it feels. You know? Like, no. I’m not ready for that.

Kelly: Well, what will a Trump or Clinton presidency mean for you and those you love?

Element: I don’t think it’s gonna change much, and that’s the problem. The problem is that things aren’t really gonna change. We voted for [Barack] Obama on the hope of change, but we didn’t really see that change. What I feel is that Obama held off the wolves. Right? Like, if it would have been [Mitt] Romney or [John] McCain, it would have been a lot, lot worse. Under Hillary it will be more of the same as with Obama: horrible trade deals and a stable economy. Under Trump it will be worse: more right-wing issues, more attacks on women’s health, more war, more flagrant war. But again, still the same; and I think “Bernie or Bust” movement, Jill Stein and me see the potential and beauty of a future when we take care of everyone, and that’s what we’re holding onto and that’s what we’re hopeful of.

Kelly: But what will it mean for the people you’re close to, personally?

Element: It means that someday, probably sooner than I expect, I’m going to see a lot of the loved ones that I have all over the world suffer. And I think about it every day.

Kelly: Go on.

Element: Yeah. The multitude of ways that people are going to be suffering, from drowning to a lack of food to famine. Yeah, things are going to get bad. But I also understand that things have to get worse before they get better, No. 1. But as I said before, there’s a spiritual revolution occurring that we can’t see. I also believe that the people who are gone too soon, when they are pulled away, they are pulled into the army of the children of light and they are fighting for us. And this is the only way that I can look at it so I can maintain my sanity.

Kelly: If you didn’t frame circumstances in that way, you think you’d go insane?

Element: If I looked at it as if all of this was just chaos and useless killing and not for the purpose of teaching humanity a lesson… Humanity as a species is very young, like children, all this war and fighting is like childish tantrums. We’re killing each other and still exercising this ability, not doing what was right. We’re doing what we’re programmed to do. As a species we’re just kind of following what the media is telling us to do, what the ruling class has created for us, rather than awakening and saying “No, no, no. We are the ones in power here. We can make this world whatever we want.” But that day is coming soon, and I think very soon. And I believe that it is Americans like Jill Stein who are going to bring this awareness to the rest of the population, that peace is a possibility.

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