Meet Ricky L. Jones, Professor and Chair of the University of Louisville’s Department of Pan-African Studies. He is radio host of “The Ricky Jones Show” from iHeart Media. He’s also a prolific writer and has column that runs bi-weekly in Louisville’s Courier Journal/USA Today Network.

Some books he’s published are.. two editions titled “Black Haze: Violence, Sacrifice, and Manhood in Black Greek-Letter Fraternities” and “What’s Wrong with Obamamania?: Black America, Black Leadership, and the Death of Political Imagination.” Jones has been named one of Louisville’s 25 Future Leaders by Louisville Magazine and was recognized as one of DIVERSE Issues in Higher Education’s “25 to Watch in Academia.”

Dr. Jones shares some of his favorite hip hop groups like Wu Tang, X-Clan, Eric B and Rakim, he says he still finds himself listening to DMX or Schoolly D songs before going into battle at work. He touches on what we as hip hop can do to help issues like youth on youth crime, gun violence and more, he’s motto is Never, EVER leave our children in the hands of fools! Please share.

Peace Mr. Jones Where’s home?

Atlanta, GA. I grew up in the Carver Homes housing project in SW Atlanta.

How long have you’ve been teaching at the Pan-African Studies U of L?

23 years. I came to UoL straight out of graduate school.

Anything outstanding happen to you with the last month or so you’d like to share?

Yes. I won a Genius Fellowship for BMe – an organization that centers on black communities. It’s always nice to be honored by your own.

At what age did you became politically and socially-conscious?

Probably around 19 or so.

Did you have mentors coming up??

Most definitely. Like most boys without fathers, I grew up adopting fathers/mentors along the way without really knowing I was doing so.

Any favorite hip hop groups you listen to now?

I’m a kid whom came of age in the 80s and 90s, so my hip hop choices are rooted in that era. My all-time favorite group is Public Enemy by far. Also love Wu Tang, X-Clan, Eric B and Rakim, and a host of others.

I still find myself listening to various DMX and Schoolly D songs before going into battle at work. I like a number of current cats, but not to the same degree.

In your opinion what can we do in the hip hop community to help kids going through the every day struggle? How much of a role do you think music plays in our youth lives?

Music is HUGE! Hip hop is largest selling recorded medium in the world, so it can do a lot. We see artists elevating their consciousness from time to time in significant ways. The more historically and politicized they are, the better.

Maybe they can partner with black scholars (concerned ones, mind you) to develop effective community “consciousness circles” for everyday people along with educational programs for younger people that can be replicated nationwide.

What publications, blogs podcasts, do you peep to keep you inspired?

I still read The Crisis and certain writers for The New Yorker and The Atlantic. I like The Root online. Best recent podcast was Malcolm Gladwell’s “Revisionist History.”

Any Favorite book(s)?

If I had to choose just one, it would be “Souls of Black Folks” by DuBois. Prophetic piece.

Favorite super villain or hero?

Classicly, I’ve always loved Batman. Not the campy tv show version, but the ruthless iteration. Cinematically, Erik Killmonger – BY A LONG SHOT!

Advice for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

This is a really closed and elite profession. Less than 2% of the population has PhDs. Reach out to a professor who cares to guide you through the grad school admission and completion process. That’s key. Then study your ass off. GRIND!

Shout outs or last words?

As always, POWER TO THE PEOPLE! Never, EVER leave our children in the hands of fools!

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EDITOR: La Mont Reed
IMAGE: Ricky L. Jones