By: Elizabeth Meravi
At Leaders of the Free World we believe in the power of international travel. We're highlighting the stories of several Black men whose international experience had lasting impact on their lives.
Napoleon Maddox, musician, traveled to Japan at the age of 30 to promote his band and album. “It was my first time in Asia, experiencing a culture I'd read about and romanticized.” As a person of color, this experience was even more exceptional: “There were very few people of African descent in Japan and they have appreciation for African-American music, so my visit there was celebrated.” His trip lasted a week: he spent time performing and being interviewed as well as experiencing Japanese culture.
When asked about the impact this trip had on him, Napoleon commented, “I was astounded by the peaceful nature of Japanese society. There was no gun violence reported on the news. I also learned a lot about myself”. He credits his good experience not only to the people he met but also to his own attitude.
“I also learned a lot about myself and how I needed to take a more deliberate, responsible role in my own life... No place (or situation) was going to be any better than what I bring to it. I met people that responded well to me, but it was not just because they were kind (they were) but it also had a lot to do with the preparations I'd made to meet them.” From friendships he had made, and from his studies of Japan, Napoleon had created a strong base for his new experiences.
In retrospect, Napoleon feels he could have been even more proactive: “Perhaps I would have prepared myself to be more confident, focused and deliberate in my actions, realizing that my hosts were waiting on me to make requests according to my needs. “ When asked what advice he would give the person he was before the trip, he told LFW “You belong here. Go and own it.”
Napoleon Maddox is a true Hip-hop ambassador; working as a producer, human beatbox artist, vocalist, DJ and leader of a Hip-hop band called ISWHAT?!.
He has created and performed music for cable and Public Television programs in the US and for The Arte network in Europe, North Africa and Middle East.
He has worked with the US Embassy and Departments of Cultural Affairs in England, France, Estonia, Serbia, Germany and Morocco.
Also mixing and developing unique collages and mixes for radio, films and art events, Napoleon is well known for his collaborations and creations across a wide array of artists in varied disciplines. He has worked with highly respected Hip-hop, Rock, Jazz and Classical musicians including Chuck D, DJ Spinna, DJ Logic, Saul Williams, Vernon Reid and the late great Les Paul.