City Life/Vida Urbana, a Jamaica Pain-based housing advocacy group, is known for its direct activism, such as sit-ins, blockades and protest marches. The organization recently added another dimension with the rapper Antonio “Twice Thou” Ennis.
“I’m really paying forward what I have learned,” said Ennis, who recently released an album about his experience with City Life.
He is a storied member of the Boston hip-hop scene, including being part of The Almighty RSO group. He changed his name from E-Devious to Twice Thou in 2000 when the group also changed its name to MadeMen. “Twice Thou” is short for the year 2000.
Ennis, a lifelong Dorchester resident, found out in 2009 that his triple-decker was in foreclosure from a neighbor, who had read it in the newspaper.
Ennis said his clothing business Antonio Ansaldi had begun to suffer because of the economic recession. (Antonio Ansaldi sold the controversial “Stop Snitchin’” T-shirts during the mid-2000s before removing them.) He said tenants of his triple-decker also lost their jobs and he tried to work with them. But because of this combination, he fell behind on his mortgage payments.
Someone told him to go to City Life, where Ennis said he learned how to fight back against foreclosure through staying in his home and legal advice from Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and the Greater Boston Legal Services. Ennis said that a united front “is the ultimate way to fight back.”
Ennis began working for City Life in January, and through his experience with the organization, he recorded an album titled “The Bank Attack.” Ennis said the album, which was released in October, is about social awareness and the banking crisis.
Ennis said the Gazette gets a “shout out” in one track titled “Worst Kept Rumor.” On that track, he sings about debt forgiveness on predatory loans and says to call the Gazette and other papers to help disseminate the message.
A video was made for the title track and it was shot in different locations throughout Boston. There are shots of a City Life meeting and members canvassing.
Ennis said they also went into a Bank of America branch in Hyde Square “guerilla-style” to get footage until they were told to leave. He said he wants people to listen to his album and be inspired, empowered and “educated about the things the banks are doing.”
Ennis said proceeds from the album are split between City Life/Vida Urbana and his record company record, The BuyBack Initiative/Music Group, whose objective is to purchase foreclosed
properties and sell them back to the owners at the real market value.
“The Bank Attack” is available at online retailers.