Standing out in the rain to make this interview possible was most definitely worth it. B. Dolan has a presence that you can’t ignore and lyrics to back it up. His lyrical content is very socially aware and in your face. There is no denying the message behind his music and because of this powerful push to be an educated and aware individual, he has a very dedicated following. Starting out in 1999 doing spoken word with teammate and friend Sage Francis, he earned himself several championships and moved on to bigger projects. He and Sage started up Knowmore.org, a website about our consumption habits in America, helping people become more informed and conscious of the world around them.
Currently signed with Sage’s record label, Strange Famous Records, he has been traveling to music festivals like SXSW, Rock the Bells, and several universities. As General Manager of BSU’s Pulse Radio, this is what originally gave me the opportunity to speak with him. Time constraints left me with no interview after his Boise State concert but with due diligence and a bit of waiting outside in the rain after his Treefort show at The Reef, I nabbed one of my favorite interviews yet. B. Dolan’s wittiness and honesty cannot be beat.
Shontelle Reyna: You did slam poetry for awhile and were involved with HBO’s Def Poetry. Are you still involved with that at all? Outside of the poetics in your music, of course.
B. Dolan: Not at all. In fact, I actively discourage people from being part of that community at this point. I was disillusioned by both slam [poetry] and Def Jam almost instantly. I hate to be so publicly negative and honestly don’t even like being asked or talking about it. But suffice [it] to say, I would hate it if people heard my music and went to a poetry slam – or a rap battle, for that matter – expecting to see a good show. That’s not what those things are. They’re formulaic contests, and the majority of their participants make cheap and easy shit because they’re desperate for validation.
My involvement with that scene was a result of me being 18 years old and stumbling onto any stage that would have me, performing and getting some attention from Def Jam. But I was so grossed out by what I saw there that I quickly left and pursued a DIY route of making my music. I’ve tried with my career to be an antichrist to both of those churches rather than a poster child for either of them. Haha! No, I’m not involved.
SR: I read an article you wrote about writer and slam poet Jack McCarthy’s work and passing. The tone of the article sounds like you really looked up to this man. Had he become a friend of yours? What influence do you think he had on you as an artist?
BD:Jack was one of the exceptions to the rule stated above, and like the rest, he’s no longer around that scene. In Jack’s case, that’s because he passed away last year. I certainly did look up to him, and he continues to be an inspiration. He showed the power of sincerity and understatement, and his work was full of wisdom and really simple beauty. If people aren’t aware of his work, it’s recorded and available as videos, text and audio at
SR: So what happened with The Find Magazine? Any new Twitter feuds?
BD: Ayyyeee. We’ve gotta keep these kids on the Internet entertained somehow. Just part of my ongoing quest to get my funeral picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church.
SR: You volunteer and co-founded knowmore.org, so you are a pretty involved and informed individual about consumption. How and why did you start up the site? Do you feel that these things have made some impact?
BD:I started Knowmore in 2005 in the aftermath of the re-election of George Bush. I was thinking about the other ways we vote and how the things we purchase essentially constitute a vote for companies to keep doing what they do. I was doing research about the foods I ate, the clothes I wore, and the true cost and impact of the companies who counted me among their consumers. I ended up wishing a website like Knowmore existed, and because it didn’t, we created it.
I do think it’s had an impact, and it’s still the largest database of its kind on the Internet. There’s an encyclopedia of corporate abuse there that’s been in existence and [been] updated long before the global financial collapse. We sort of predicted these things, and as they came to pass, people have moved more and more toward the kind of attitudes and reforms that need to happen. The work is still ongoing, but I still believe it’s worth doing and critically important.
SR: Anyone who follows you on any social network knows your stance on marriage equality. Thank you for being open, honest, and supportive. What do you have to say about those who say things like marriage equality will lead to beastiality or tax fraud?
BD: I laugh at them because they’re silly. These people are relics who will be dead soon, I imagine. I mean, if you’re talking to me about people marrying donkeys, I don’t think I should have to talk to you like you’re a rational human. I’d rather just laugh and wait for you to adapt or die. As for tax fraud, when those tax zealots go after the 150 billion dollars lost to corporate loopholes, we can talk about the threat posed by small-time “Chuck & Larry” copycat crooks.
SR: Your performances at the Treefort Kickoff Concert on Boise State campus and later at The Reef were equally amazing. Come back to Boise soon!
BD: I certainly hope to. Boise is one of my favorite places to perform in the world, and I honestly tell that to reporters everywhere. The hipster capitals provide jaded audiences a lot of the time, unfortunately. When we come to Boise, we always know we’re in for a rowdy show with good energy. Salute to your city, and thank you.