An Interview with MC Tru Bloo

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It all started in 2004 when Tru Bloo heard from a mutual friend that another Gay Lebanese MC was part of the SWANABAQ (South West Asian and North African Bay Area Queers) in San Francisco. Both of them were asked to perform at a fundraiser for Helem in 2004, free-styling until 2005, when they founded NaR and recorded their first album with producer Galen Peterson from Oakland, California (who at that time was running a music studio for homeless youth). NaR debuted at a festival called HomoHop, showcasing gay/queer hip hop artists in Oakland, and began touring and doing shows all over the Bay Area.  New York followed with the PeaceOut Festival in 2006,  Under the Volcano in 2007 (Vancouver, Coast Salish land), the Free Palestine Peace & Solidarity Festival in 2008, and many political and hip hop events in between.

In the last couple years, Tru Bloo has concentrated on producing her music solo. She has performed at  a number of political and hip hop events. addressing issues of sexism, racism, classism and homophobia.   During her visit to Lebanon, I sat with her to get a better idea of her range of work and what she tries to convey through her art.

When asked what she sings about, Tru Bloo explains that each of her tracks focuses on a concept that usually addresses some form of self-empowerment, self-knowledge and self-realization. Often, it involves being a woman, person of color, immigrant, poor person, reclaiming our bodies, and loving ourselves, despite all the racism, sexism and homophobia. Basically, she writes songs that affirm our own personal beauty, strength and courage. Also, the lyrics question labels, boxes and identities, and defy all of them. She then adds: “I don’t think I can be classified as just an Arab, female, or queer hip hop artist, I encompass many identities as a person, artist and activist and I really intend to get that point across through my music. Tru Bloo’s music also “calls out the powers that be: The systems that many of us have accepted or have taken for granted as ruling our lives, like global capitalism, patriarchy, the institution of marriage, the biomedical system, and the binary gender system.”

Her lyrics are a direct reaction to her daily struggles, her activist life, her life as a lawyer and her social justice work.

The song “Hyphy Intifada” was written during the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006, while she was angry, frustrated and going through an emotional time knowing her family was living through the war. “Hyphy Intifada” was a reaction to what was going on, like a therapy.

Another example is “My Kind of Blues”, a blues song she performed a capella at Meem this month.  This piece was a direct reaction to her girlfriend being sexually harassed in San Francisco by a group of men on the street while she was being threatened.  The song is about a woman’s right to walk down the street in peace; no one has the right to harass a woman.  Consequently, Tru Bloo needed a creative outlet.

As to her coming out, she says: “In doing my music, I never had the choice to not be out.  I came out at a  young age (15) and was outspoken, so I was totally out and open about my sexuality before I ever thought of censoring myself. And I think that reflects in my music which is different from some other hip hop artists who are gay and don’t talk about it, although the HomoHop community is expanding.”

As for the community in Lebanon, Tru Bloo was pleasantly surprised to encounter such a vibrant community that’s making steps forward in creating safe spaces and in advocating on behalf of people who are personally suffering from the homophobia and patriarchy that we all experience in different ways culturally.  She continues: “ I am really happy to see that Meem exists and to be able to witness the movement in action here in Beirut and to be a part of it somehow. It’s been really inspiring for me to meet lesbian bi trans women and people and it’s also affirmed my own identity when I’ve been told by so many sources that I am a product of the west and that we don’t exist here.

I’d like to say: never stop believing in yourself and in the power that you have to manifest the things you want in your life. They can be done with love, compassion and respect to all the people around you, but there is not a more authentic action than to live your truth.”

Tru Boo is currently working on a solo album that she hopes to release in 2012, a music mix of hip hop, blues, a capella, traditional arabic music, and everything in between!

“Let’s rise up, indigenous nations/ For generations resist invasion/ African, Asian, U.S. Immigration/ Has no regard for the dispossessed/ Rest in peace North America/ To Palestine, it’s a diaspora/ Terrorist, Criminal/ The message is subliminal/ Subjugate the people to the minimal”

For more info and music samples:

Tru Bloo currently has CDs for sale:  The Water-Carrier MIXTAPE

CD Sales Contact:  to get your copy!!

Shant is a half-breed in a mutation process. She enjoys her coffee with a few drops of amaretto and her pickles with hot cocoa. She also has compulsive movie-watching binges, which make her speak in movie quotes. She fancies punk cabaret and lives her life pretending it’s an ongoing edit of a film.

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