An Interview with Tem Blessed: Green Energy Artist

By Daniela Salazar

“There’s no street, hood, or people that won’t benefit from a green tomorrow.”

Tem Blessed was born in West Africa and came to New Bedford, MA when he was just a few years old. Ever since, hip-hop has been part of Tem’s life, a way to inspire generations with more than just a great sound. His songs are powerful, socially conscious messages ranging from conservation, to climate change, green jobs, and the depletion of the bee population. Tem’s ability to inspire younger generations has taken him from city-wide earth day festivals, to more intimate settings including classrooms and school assemblies, stirring students to use their voices to be leaders in their communities. Tem Blessed has been a climate warrior for 16 years. Working with youth, organizations and nonprofits, Tem is creating a beat where sustainability is the key.

My new song called ‘Climb Through The Clouds’ it’s meant to inspire us all to keep pushing and be on the look out for Yung Amerikans.
  1. What do you love most about the work you do?

I love connecting with people especially Youth. They give me a great sense of hope and re-energize me that the future will OK. I love sharing my music with them and sharing my story as an example to show them that they can make a living doing what they are passionate about. The youth are not only the future but the now!

2. Do you consider yourself an environmentalist?

I’m an environmentalist! I love nature. I love being in nature, bringing family and friends along and being a protector of Mother Earth. As a musician and a poet that makes music to bring awareness about its well-being and challenges, I consider myself a Hip-Hop Environmentalist!

“What drew me to hip-hop was that the music was teaching me something. It did something in addition to making me feel energized.”

3. Why do you think it’s important that we tackle climate change? Is there an issue affecting your community?

I want there to be an environment for my children and 7 generations into the future. Right now those in power act like they have another planet to go to. Even if that was possible, and we had another planet to go to, we should take care of this beautiful place called Earth because it has such great abundant life already. We have to change into a renewable energy economy if we are to sustain life in the near future.

Although I don’t live in ND I stand with Standing Rock. The fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline is key in combating climate change and protecting our clean water.

Being that we have some dangerous and weak leadership in the White House, who blatantly denies science and climate change, now more than ever, it is important for us to stand together in solidarity. We know the most vulnerable will be impacted severely so we as a people with big hearts, big dreams, and strong determination must manifest a just and equitable future. Let’s never give up hope, but rise up towards a unified peoples’ victory ending racism, sexism, ableism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, police brutality and climate injustice! ONE love.

4. What do you think is the best way to tackle this and other environmental challenges?

Do something. Spread awareness using what you are most passionate about. I am a Hip-hop emcee so I use my words and music. Here is an easy 10 step approach that I rap about in my song “Now is the Time”:

1. Creation/ LEDs innovation/ Those old light bulbs replace them/

2. Unplug your stuff when their not being used/ Cell phone charges are vampires dude/

3. Buy green, buy less, buy local buy fresh/ Buy organic and Yes/ Buy Blessed/

4. Be aware of what you wear/ You got 14 sneakers do you really need another pair?/

Like 5 and 6 I’ll throw you in the mix/ I say reduce, reuse You say?/ Recycle!/ That’s it!/

7. Get off of water that’s bottled/ You outta/ Use one reusable/ with filtered tap water/

8. To reiterate/ Eat local/ A garden start it/ Or shop at the farmers market!/

9. It’s about time/ To cut some carbon off/ At least one day a week bike, bus or walk/

10!… Tell your family and friends/ Put out the WORD and help them comprehend.

Generation! Now is the Time Take action! It’s your time to shine!

This is a call to action! This Generation will be the change makers. Now is the Time!

5. Are there any other leaders and influencers that you want to shine a light on? How are they setting an example for future leaders?

I have been influenced by many people.

Van Jones is a leader that has influenced me and countless other people. He started ‘Green For All’ that speaks about making sure communities of color have access to a just and renewable future. He’s currently on CNN actively speaking up about social justice and environmental issues.

Bill McKibben leads 350.org and has inspired a global movement such as the Divest! Movement and has given us a target of where to get the carbon emission reading to: 350 parts per million.

Finally, everyone else who is doing their part no matter how big or small. You all inspire me to keep pushing for a clean and just future for all people!

Soundtrack for the People’s Climate March. This song and video is about divesting from big oil and the fossil fuel industry. This video documents the struggle to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline and Tar Sands from polluting the world. 350.org.

Tem would like to hear from you!

You can contact him here. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.