First-time author, André Melvin Jones, Jr., hits the literary scene with this empirically intelligent “manifesto.” Jones has tolled the bell, calling on his generation—a presumed less conscious composite of Americans made up of hipsters, texters, Facebook friends and “tweeters”—to answer the call to consciousness and to administer a rejuvenating shot to a weak and dying American heritage. In a time of great social, political, economic and even religious upheaval, Jones has found a way to coalesce these elements and derive from it a prescriptive argument on how the American Civilization should “posture” itself as it proceeds through the 21st Century. The Renaissance Generation: A Soapbox Polemic offers aegis to all minds—young and old—seeking hope during this extraordinarily difficult period.
What did you dream of being when you were a kid?
I don’t recall having many career-oriented ambitions as a kid. I remember just wanting to be the coolest, I wanted to be the funniest, and I wanted to be the most recognized. Dreams of being a doctor, cop, firefighter, veterinarian, etc., didn’t interest me much as a kid. I recall being very conscious of my youth and what a privilege—and blessing—it was to be young, so I just really wanted to revel in it while I had the chance to.
What are you doing now in your life?
Buying my freedom. I’m in the early stages of what is sure to be a lifelong struggle for freedom. I’m not talking about physical bondage or slavery, but an existential freedom—the type that frees you from your inner yous, breaks the yolk of selfishness, and unlocks the power invested in you by God to achieve incredible things here on Earth. Too many of us are living well below our destiny so I hope that my walk can be an example and an inspiration to others who are battling with uncertainty and self-definition.
What has been the best advice given to you to about surviving in the entertainment industry?
Haven’t gotten any yet.
Where do you get your fashion inspiration from?
It comes from everywhere—whether it is from preppy Ivy League students with their khakis and cardigans, dapper businessmen, bedecked young people with their bright colors and fitted attired, or from street-influenced urbanites with their hoodies and baggy jeans—I draw my sense of fashion from all of those and beyond.
Describe your style to us?
My style is contemporary splashed with classical. Gotta be aware of the now, but certainly can’t forget where it all came from.
Describe your outfit when you go out?
Whatever the weather and the occasion dictates, I dress accordingly.
What item of clothing would you like to see brought back?
I don’t know if there’s any one item I’d like to see brought back. Perhaps just the fashion-sense of past—if we could see more hints of past styles nicely blended together with contemporary ones, I think that would be good.
Who is a person that has been an inspiration to you?
There isn’t just one person. Several select figures have inspired me and have contributed to the maturation of me. One person in particular is the freakishly brilliant, Dr. Cornel West. This man—with his dogma-challenging, jazzman-esque, critical-thinking self—has played a tremendous role in making me who I am today. The fact that he—a man who has proven himself in the worlds of academia, politics, religion, and literature; who has international reverence as probably one of the most original thinkers of our generation; who has travelled here, spoke there, done this, done that, tried those, and will do these—agreed to endorse me, a new author, and my book (which, by the way, is due out early 2010) is the greatest expression of humility and connection that anyone could’ve shown me and I love him for that.
Another is the unmatched, Lupe Fiasco. From style, to persona, to talent, that brother’s got it going on! Though we have never met, to me, Lupe is the most important emcee to our generation. With Lupe, you have a thought-provoking, no-nonsense, lyrical titan, whose musical subject matter has transcended the traditional box of underground emceeing and has made it to the commercial airwaves for all to hear—and heed. He’s a superstar in my eyes. To me, he has done the impossible—especially, now—and that is being able to masterfully blend education with titillation.
Who is the ultimate Spader to you?
Not sure. However, I’ll be the next.