On this album, you talk a lot about third world poverty and the passivity of developed countries towards the way some people have to live. How do you keep yourself from becoming part of that problem?
I just go the extra mile because that's the way I was raised to be. For example, I talk about writing a lot, so I started a writing contest where kids wrote about the third world. I gave away three thousand dollars in prizes for the winners. Instead of just making songs about how f*cked up the third world is, on the day of my album release, I started the Greenlight Project, where we join other human rights organizations to do things like build an orphanage and medical center in Afghanistan, just outside of Kabul.
I put my own money in there. I cant ask other people to make that commitment, because maybe that's not for everybody, but that's how I feel comfortable.
You often cite Che as one of your influencers. What drew you to him?
I understood that as a revolutionary, he was very flawed in many ways. People like Che and Malcolm X have had their images demonized, or they have been whitewashed by people whose interests are from the right wing, in the same way the Martin Luther King's image has been sanitized. Dick Cheney voted against having his birthday become a national holiday. They don't give a f*ck about black people.
How do you feel about the mass-marketing of the images of people like Che, to kids who don't even know what he stood for?
Here in America they sell little plastic Jesus, they're commercializing God. So what the f*ck, the commercialization of a man who is iconic isn't astonishing.
How have you seen your core fans change over the years?
At first we only saw albums in the hood because that's all I had, I had no distribution. I could only sell records in Harlem and around my peoples way in Brooklyn. Then we did the Warped Tour which opened us up to a whole new audience of the white boy rebellious, crazy, I-wanna-smash-a-guitar-over-your-f*cking-head kinda thing.
With this album, I started to use more of the Spanish language. I did an entire song in Spanish, not just representing el castellano dominicano, but also Puerto Rico and all the dialects of Spanish because they all have different slang.