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NSA vs USA: an electro-house dance track & music video's video poster
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Rapper / lawyer Shahid Buttar will record an electro-house dance track about NSA spying with DJ Jen Woolfe, then shoot a music video. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on February 6, 2014.

Rapper / lawyer Shahid Buttar will record an electro-house dance track about NSA spying with DJ Jen Woolfe, then shoot a music video.

About this project

I've been kicking rhymes for years, starting in Chicago back in the 90s and then in SF and DC over the past decade. This year, I'm getting together with my favorite DJ -- the fantabulous funkmaster Jen Woolfe -- to produce an original electro-house dance track featuring lyrics about the history of government surveillance in the US

My pitch

My next track, "NSA vs We the People," will make you groove, while dropping science you didn't hear in history class.

Songs on my debut CD, Get Outta Your Chair, addressed issues including war & militarism, consumerism & climate change, and television & intellectual apathy. This track will bring a dark tone to a funky electro-house instrumental, underneath lyrics drawn from my documentary poetry. 

Here's a C-SPAN video clip of me spitting the first two verses, accompanied by drummer Kristen Arant, on stage at the Stop Watching Us rally in Washington, DC that I helped organize through my work as a public interest advocate leading the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. Cable TV host Abby Martin invited us to perform on her show, "Breaking the Set," the following week.

My plan

First, Jen & I will spend a week in her music studio in Moab to produce, record, and mix the track. That'll cost $2,000, plus $500 for travel, lodging and food for the week in February we'll spend recording.

Then, I'll work with multimedia artist Robin Bell to shoot, edit and produce a music video. That'll cost $5,000, and probably take us into late March or April.

The last $250 of the project budget will go towards promoting the track over the rest of this spring.

My team

Jen's been making dance floors sticky for years: we met in Black Rock City in 2006, and I've seen her spin DJ gigs in Seattle, San Francisco, and Oakland since then. She's got a full music studio in Moab, and is working (among other things) on producing original house tracks.

Robin, like me, is based in Washington, DC. Over the years, he's worked on projects with Moby, Thievery Corporation, Occupy Monsanto, and the Stop Watching Us coalition. He knows how to visually complement music and present a whole greater than the sum of its parts. We have lots of B-roll from which to construct a narrative, and also envision shooting some dance breaks. 

Jen, Robin & I are all frequent part-time residents of Black Rock City, where I've performed with the Heart Deco, Sol System, Opulent Temple, Pink Mammoth, White Ocean, and Garage Mahal sound systems. 

We're bringing the funk -- with a little history -- to a dance floor near you....

Risks and challenges

Risks

-- Recording the song and producing the video could take longer than we expect, though we've budgeted plenty of time for each stage. Depending on the length of any delays, we may release the track after the current controversy about government surveillance subsides. Having said that, that's a risk more about the track's marketability and resonance with a broader debate than one confronting our execution of the project.

-- It's theoretically possible that house music -- having inspired legions of fans around the world to dance for hours and hours on end, for not just a few years but several decades -- could go out of style.

-- There is a substantial risk that if this song goes viral, a bunch of people in Washington might find themselves out of work, or at least not feel as good about their day jobs.

Challenges

-- My day job is intense, which is why you may not have heard my music. While writing and performing on weekends, I've focused my career on building grassroots movements through organizing, writing & research, media outreach, impact litigation, coalition building, and direct action. But I've recently started recording my second album, after a 5 year hiatus since my first release in 2008.

-- My music production is not nearly as strong as my flow on the mic. That's why I'm teaming up with Jen Woolfe, arguably the funkiest selectah evah to grace a pair of DJ decks, to craft a piece of musical art stronger than the sum of its parts.

-- My travel calendar for my day job is complicated, and could make it challenging to find time to visit Moab when Jen is also there on the ground. That's why we originally aimed to record this track over the December 2013 holidays. Having missed that window, we're looking at early February. In the worst case, we can also manage the recording remotely, with Jen producing and engineering in Moab, me recording in DC, and the Interwebs helping us connect the dots.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    33 backers

    Get the preview: an advance digital download of "Occupy the Corps" (my latest track) and "NSA vs. USA" (this track in process about dragnet NSA spying), one week before they're each publicly released. You'll be ahead of the game, and able to funkify your friends, while schooling them about history!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $20 or more

    24 backers Limited (1 left of 25)

    Get an early bird / new year bonus: advance digital downloads of "Occupy the Corps" and "NSA vs. USA," plus my debut CD, Get Outta Your Chair, featuring "Bumpin in My SUV" and "the Baghdad Blues." I'll snail mail it to you with a hand-written thank you note.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    19 backers

    Get my discography: advance digital downloads of "Occupy the Corps" and "NSA vs. USA," plus my debut CD, Get Outta Your Chair, featuring "Bumpin in My SUV" and "the Baghdad Blues."

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $40 or more

    17 backers

    Get some music and some threads: my debut CD, Get Outta Your Chair, as well as a t-shirt, and digital downloads of "Occupy the Corps" and "NSA vs. USA."

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $60 or more

    18 backers

    Get some music and sicker (or at least thicker) threads: my debut CD, Get Outta Your Chair, as well as a hoodie, and digital downloads of "Occupy the Corps" and "NSA vs. USA."

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    14 backers

    Get some music, threads, and personally acquainted: my debut CD, Get Outta Your Chair, and your choice of a t-shirt or a hoodie, plus digital downloads of "Occupy the Corps" and "NSA vs. USA." I'll also schedule a 15 minute Skype session to get personally acquainted, and follow you on Twitter and watch every move you make -- or least every one you tweet!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    3 backers Limited (7 left of 10)

    Get music, threads, and a serenade: my debut CD, Get Outta Your Chair, a t-shirt, a hoodie, plus digital downloads "Occupy the Corps" and "NSA vs. USA," and a 20 minute serenade for you and an intimate friend (in person as my travel schedule allows, or over Skype), featuring a few covers I don't plan to ever record.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    2 backers Limited (8 left of 10)

    Get music, threads, and a Skype concert: my debut CD, Get Outta Your Chair, a t-shirt, and a hoodie, plus advance digital downloads of "Occupy the Corps" and "NSA vs. USA," and a 45 minute concert for you and your friends (in person as my travel schedule allows, or over Skype). I'll also follow you on Twitter and watch every move you tweet, as well as Facebook to troll your status updates.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    2 backers Limited (3 left of 5)

    Get me in your living room: I'll travel to wherever you live within the continental US, sit down over lunch, follow you on both Twitter and Facebook, perform a live 1 hour set for you & your friends, share an hour mentoring any young people in your life, and throw in the t-shirt, hoodie, debut CD, and advance digital downloads.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States

Funding period

- (30 days)