Brookyln producer Dr. Israel is best known for his unique blend of music fusing roots reggae, punk, hardcore, and dub. Influenced by a life-changing trip to Jamaica, his music began with the intent to revolutionize the concept of mainstream music. His famed picked up quickly early in his career, earning acclaims from magazines such as The Rolling Stone, but suddenly took a turn when he found himself without a label.
However, through a steady push of networking and partnerships while remaining true to his music, he has released internationally renowned albums like Patterns of War and even a documentary in the past decade. His newest EP, The Ghetto Defendant, is a concept influenced by the character in The Clash song of the same title, and will be released for free on New Year’s Day. Catch Dr. Israel at Elbo Room on January 1, performing new tracks off Ghetto Defendant for the first time.
Since your newest EP Ghetto Defendant will be released in a series called The Liberation Chronicles, what is the story behind the series? What part does Ghetto Defendant play?
Years ago I wrote out the concept for The Liberation Chronicles. Recently I was able to begin to actually putting it together. The story is about a reluctant super hero who exists in a post apocalyptic near future world. He is battling corporate Giant OmniCore, who has superseded all national governments and rules the world with an Iron fist. He is the Ghetto Defendant.
The series will be comprised of seven releases, each will relate the story from four different points of view: a 13 song LP, a short film, a graphic novel, and a handwritten account. The Ghetto Defendant EP is a sort of trailer or teaser, released as an introduction to the series. In its most basic form, The Liberation Chronicles is the tale of the victory of love and creativity over oppression and violence.
What made you want to release Ghetto Defendant for free?
Ghetto Defendant is a new step for me in how I relate to music and creativity; it’s a sort of a blueprint for moving forward. I decided, in conjunction with my management and production team, that we would release this EP for free with idea of getting our existing fan base excited about this concept, while maximizing our reach to new fans as well.
Why the release during the first day of the New Year?
The release date was selected to represent the newness of the project and it’s format. In the next year personally I’m hoping for greater focus and creative connection. Globally I’m hoping that the massive change were seeing everywhere on the planet will continue to move in a positive direction. I’m hoping for peace and justice internationally.
What do you think of the sudden influx of musicians and producers releasing tracks for free? Is it some sort of musical statement?
It’s a statement, and also a sign of the times. For years and years musicians were at the whim of record labels, advertisers and global conglomerates. It feels like this is the beginning of a great change.
You’ve been called a revolutionary producer. What does that term mean to you?
Means I’ve produced some revolutionary shit! (laughs)
Your music is known across the world, with many worldly themes. Since you’ve traveled quite a bit, where is one place you’ve been internationally that has affected you the most in terms of your music?
That’s a hard one. I would have to say that there is no one place that’s influenced me more than another, although my experiences have been liberating, empowering, and enlightening across the board. I think that the power is not from the places you travel to but the in the act of traveling itself, that and the people that you meet.
How big of a role does current politics play in your music?
Past present and future is what it’s all about, but I would say its more the idea of victory over politics than politics itself.
What should the audience be ready for during this New Year’s show at Elbo Room?
Classic dub, dance hall, and dubstep with a futuristic twist. High energy, great music and positive vibes. In addition to that I’ll be performing some of the music from the Liberation Chronicles live for the first time!
Dr. Israel performs January 1 at Elbo Room. Tickets are $9 advanced, and $12 at the door.