Cool Jobs: Gianni Lee Emboldens 'New Philly,' Champions AFROPUNK And More

Cool Jobs: Gianni Lee Emboldens ‘New Philly’ and Champions AFROPUNK

Image: Gianni Lee

You recently hit the stage in Brooklyn for AFROPUNK’s tenth anniversary. Can you recall your most memorable moments from the event? Also, share with us your pre-game ritual that gets you ready for your performance.

AFROPUNK was an amazing experience and I learned so much. My most memorable moment was being able to connect with all the people that knew of me, of my art and my movement. I came into contact with so many people from so many parts of the country as well as New York that had nothing but positivity to share with me. It’s that type of energy that I love to give right back.

My pre-game rituals all fluctuate. If I’m with friends we usually wild out backstage before performance. We may do the Shmoney Dance or something reckless along those lines. It’s good to be around loved ones before you present yourself to the world. It’s a humbling feeling knowing that you have friends around. If I am by myself I always say a prayer and ask God for an amazing performance. I keep it simple. I am always to myself right before a performance and I meticulously go over my set list.

Awhile back you developed a new movement entitled ‘New Philly’. Can you update us on its progress and what it means to be a part of ‘New Philly’?

I wouldn’t really call it a development. It was an idea that came from me and a few friends to create a tagline or identity to the new movement that is taking place in Philadelphia. This renaissance of youth that is changing the landscape of Philadelphia throughout music, technology, fashion, et cetera. As of now, it has taken a major pause because of the busy schedules of a lot of the key players. There was also slight resistance to it because some of the older influencers in Philly felt like the concept of ‘New Philly’ wasn’t needed. Of course, I didn’t agree at all, ‘New Philly’ is a concept that requires the masses in order for it to work. It is not a group, cult, or cool kids crew.

With the events happening in Ferguson and across the country, you serve as an example of sorts to young Black males in America. What are your thoughts about the situation and what ways do you think young men (and women) can do to protect themselves legally?

Ferguson has been happening since the day that our ancestors were brought over to the Americas through the Middle Passage. What we thought was an evil that long passed is now continuing with the events in St. Louis. Being a Black man and being able to relate to what happened to Michael Brown, I can strongly say that we have a ways to go as a human race, and this just shows how inhumane people can be. A lot of these problems with our people are deeply rooted in history and go as far back as the first Europeans that came to Africa and viewed our people as “creatures of wonder”.

With these insecurities and prejudices that are still deeply rooted in the very makeup of our country. Ferguson does not surprise me, but the fact that our people are starting to stand up for what they believe in is a major blessing and is long overdue. I am a strong believer in non-violence, but I also understand the teachings of Malcolm X and sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in. So protect yourself at all costs, I just can’t advocate taking a life.

What are a few rules you live by when doing business with others? Can you also talk about any bad deals you might have made in your time and how you maneuvered it?

The only rule I really live by is this: be true to myself and the people around me. Giving respect and receiving respect is key. All of the bad deals I’ve had in my time, I always maneuvered it by being the bigger person and killing people with kindness. You can never have dissension within your ranks and you can never let people see you sweat. Strength and leadership are the things that help you make great business deals. People have to like you and people have to trust you.

When it is all said and done what do you want people to know most about you and your work? What legacy are you hoping to imprint onto the culture?

Honestly, I want people to remember me as an artist. I want to change the world and do something impactful that can shift the way people think and operate with each other. There has to be a difference within the culture. I want to be the one that can show us that there are more ways to success than these evil routes that many choose to take. I hope people remember me for my dedication to my art and how I want to bring all cultures together and transcend whatever the status quo for a Black man is. There are no boundaries for us.

Be sure to follow Gianni Lee on Twitter, Soundcloud, and Instagram to stay up to day with his movement.