The Cornel West Theory releases new LP, July 19th


Washington, DC-based band teams with Princeton Professor, Dr. Cornel West


The Cornel West theory: (bottom left) Rashad Dobbins, (far left) Yvonne Gilmore, (back left) Tim Hicks, (center) Sam Lavine, (right back) John Wesley Moon, (right) Katrina Lorraine Starr.


Washington, DC ( — The Cornel West Theory is launching their new LP, “The Shape of Hip-Hop to Come,” on July 19. This record features the six-member band and chief collaborator, Princeton Professor Dr. Cornel West.

In releasing their second full-length album, the Cornel West Theory continues to evolve its Type I style, which is based in the progressive hip-hop tradition established by artists such as Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine and KRS-One. The album was created out of an appreciation for several music genres – hip-hop, jazz, punk, blues, go-go, rock – and takes its name from Ornette Coleman’s “The Shape of Jazz to Come” and Refused’s “The Shape of Punk to Come.”

The Cornel West Theory has once again teamed with Dr. West. In 2009, the band recorded with its namesake on its critically-acclaimed release “Second Rome.” Back then, Dr. West commented: “I think what we have with ‘Second Rome’ is an instant classic of its generation. And if the subsequent generations understand the depths of it, they will see what is at stake here in this album is the making of a new wave of new voices in a new generation that we haven’t seen in decades.”

“The Shape of Hip-Hop to Come” also represents the tradition of hip-hop as a rebellious art form, one that pushes creative boundaries, champions the common man and speaks with a genuine love for humanity. This album makes a bold statement about where hip-hop has been and can go.

“Hip-hop is really one dimensional right now,” says Cornel West Theory Emcee Rashad Dobbins. “Hip-Hop has four elements: Graffiti, dj’ing, rhyming and B-boying. Now the fifth element of money has taken over. … It’s a contradiction to a rebellious music from the start.”

With the release of “The Shape of Hip-Hop To Come,” Dr. West says, “It builds on the best of the past. Yes, but it’s something new, something novel.”

The intent of “The Shape of Hip-Hop to Come” is to display traditions from hip-hop and spoken word and show how those styles can expand with the fusion of other genres. The album takes traditional elements – electronic loops and beats – and evolves them by fusing live instruments and other elements from industrial, jazz, gospel, go-go, reggae and rock music. Hard, thoughtful, introspective, literary-esque lyrics are a mainstay of the Cornel West Theory. The group’s lyrical range and depth are placed on display in this record.

Tim Hicks rhymes on the song, “The Contradiction:” “This is exercise, bench pressing, soul weapons, fortified live/Christ died and my mom’s still praying/And this is what I’m saying/ That this time it’s no more contradictions, platinum changes or chrome benzes.”

The Cornel West Theory ( is a Washington, DC-based ensemble, proudly born from the hip-hop aesthetic, but not bound by limitations of any genre. It’s an eclectic amalgam of spoken word, lyricism, instruments, electronics and vocals, which draw from genres ranging from home-grown go-go to jazz to rock to hip-hop. This “musical theory” hits you aesthetically, emotionally and intellectually.

With the blessing of Dr. Cornel West, the Princeton University professor and renowned author, the band takes its name from his prolific writings and philosophies, which have shaped contemporary thought throughout the world. The group formed in 2004 and has performed throughout the country.

The band delivers music that holds a mirror to the world, with a core focus on political, cultural and spiritual commentary. They combine the essence of hip-hop with the original purpose of its movement: to speak truth to the masses. The ultimate griot, Dr. Cornel West, has recorded and appeared live with the band, sharing his unifying philosophy and highlighting the talents of this extraordinary ensemble.

“The Shape of Hip-Hop To Come” takes its name from Ornette Coleman’s “The Shape of Jazz to Come” and inspiration from what he accomplished in borrowing from the best of his genre and striving to push it somewhere else. Coleman’s seminal work, released in 1959, made its mark on the jazz community and is considered one of the genre’s most influential. And this album takes its form from “The Shape of Punk to Come.” Refused released that album in 1998 as a studio album, which was unusual for punk music. Refused revisited the tradition of punk with a rebel spirit reflected in the politics of the album, adding drum and bass as a twist to the traditional.

The Cornel West theory band Members include: Tim Hicks (MC), Rashad Dobbins (MC), Yvonne Gilmore (Spoken word), Katrina Lorraine Starr (Spoken Word), John Wesley Moon (Electronics) and Sam Lavine (Drums). The band is managed by Seven Fields Productions, LLC.
More information:
The first single from “The Shape of Hip-Hop To Come” is “The Contradiction,” a fun, fast-paced song steeped in hip-hop tradition with a sultry summer feel. The song will be released in July and is available by request.

The Cornel West Theory and Dr. Cornel West are available for interviews by request. Review copies of “The Shape of Hip-Hop to Come” will be available by request on July 1. Please contact Sarah Massey at Massey Media at 202 445-1169

“The Shape of Hip-Hop to Come” official album release show will be hosted at the U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C., on July 30, where the Cornel West Theory will headline a bill with D.C. favorites Kokayi and Gods’illa.
Summer Show Dates:
ROOTS Fest 2011 Baltimore, Md. June 25
Kennedy Center Washington, D.C. June 27
BloomBars Washington, D.C. July 1-3
SOB’s New York, N.Y. July 12
Fort Reno Park Washington, D.C. July 14
Fringe Festival Washington DC July 16
U Street Music Hall Washington, D.C. July 30
The Shadow Lounge Pittsburgh, Pa. Aug. 26

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