Bay Area’s Fresh New face: Unity Lewis
Unity Lewis a.k.a Young Precise is the most welcome young voice to come along in hip-hop in a while. The versatile, self-proclaimed ‘revolutionary gangsta’ is set to release his debut EP Audio VeVe Part 1 on July 12 on SoundVise/Fontana/ Universal Music Group Distribution. From community organizing to gang violence, Unity charges unification as the path to freedom. Produced by Bay Area production crew Organized Elements, Audio VeVe Pt.1 is a sonic onslaught aimed at societal ills, and appropriately features Stic.Man of Dead Prez, Umar Bin Hassan of the Last Poets, and Sacramento emcee Ms. Marvaless.
It’s no surprise that Unity hails from the Bay, a region known for its heightened consciousness. More, Unity comes from a long line of freedom fighters and educators. His grandmother is Dr Samella Lewis, revered author, professor, and activist. His mom is a yogi shaman and a jazz and soul singer. His father is a Rastafarian and a Reggae artist. Both raised Unity with a deep knowledge of self.
“They schooled me on societal traps—and how to avoid them,” explains Unity. “From a young age music was a means of protest.” Plus, he adds growing up in both Los Angles and Sacramento, he was surrounded by gangs, but he was the kid that people protected because he could rap better than any of the others. Unity became known for his quick and clear rhymes and was given the name Young Precise. “I’m very meticulous with my rhyming and everything I say,” Unity said, “so whether it’s freestyle or it’s written, it’s on point.”
Unity rejects the political label, however, “because I think that the political system is a flawed and an oppressive one. It’s bigger than politics. I see myself more as conscious and aware, and active in making change for the upliftment of humanity on all levels.”
Unity began recording music when he was 13 with two friends who decided to join forces and formed a group called The Napalm Clique. When Unity moved to the Bay Area in 2000, an Oakland chapter of The Napalm Clique was formed and in 2007, they released they’re first mixtape called The Napalm Clique Classique Mixtape.
In 1999, Unity was propelled onto the national spotlight when PBS asked the teenager to document his senior year in high school. The television series, called “Senior Year” ran on PBS stations across America and his music was featured on the soundtrack. Also in 99, he released his first solo LP, Fight and moved to Oakland to attend California College of the Arts. While in Oakland, Unity began working with various other music and visual arts crews like Street Scholars, Organized Elements, The Collectiv and Eklectyk Creative Media.
Unity made a strong impact on YouTube last year with 75k views of his Michael Jackson Tribute video “Shining”. His “Revolution” music video—created by Eklectyk Creative Media for the Napalm Clique and featuring Fred Hampton Jr.—was awarded Best Music Video at the 2008 Hollywood Black Film Festival, beating out the ‘Give It To Me’ video by Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, and Nelly Furtado.
In 2004 he released a handmade box set with 58 tracks of recordings from ages 13 through 21. The collection includes tracks with Oscar Brown Jr. and various members of The Napalm Clique.
Currently recording his sophomore album Heat, Unity is also readying a Reggae hip-hop album with his father. The album features a stable of some of the best reggae musicians, including Ronnie “Stepper” McQueen (base player of Steel Pulse) and Santa Davis (one of the most prominent drummers in reggae history) to name a few.
Down for the people, passionate, and lyrically gifted, there’s no doubt that this is only the beginning of Unity’s long career as a story teller and emcee. Audio Veve Pt 1 drops July 12, 2011.