A multi-faceted activist - DJ Free Leonard is a Recording Artist, a DJ, a Community Organizer and a Dis-Enrolled Member of White Earth Chippewa (Ojibwe) Tribe.
Who is DJ Free Leonard?
Aaron H. Mirmalek (born December 17th, 1981) A.K.A DJ Free Leonard, the first cousin of a falsely imprisoned American Indian by the name of Leonard Peltier, DJ Free Leonard’s stage name was inspired by his cousin, to be aware that injustice is always close at hand. Rather than use that as an excuse to hate, he decided to use his words and music to spread awareness and even hope for others.
As a Civil Rights Hip Hop Advocate, DJ Free Leonard is working within the community by knitting powerful messages into his rhymes, laced with dynamic purpose and common sense. Unlike most DJ's who strictly adhere to club promoters request for dance pop music, he only spins music that can correlate information about the cause in public. He believes that Hip Hop is the most powerful form of expression and through his music he merges political education into his culturally inspired songs.
Born at Kaiser Hospital (West MacArthur and Broadway) in Oakland, California, to a Middle Eastern Father who came to the US on a wrestling scholarship after competing in the 1968 Olympics to go into the Auto Repair business and Indigenous/Norwegian Mother, a brilliant matriarch leader in the Educational Administration field working at McClymond's High School in West Oakland, is a prime example of courage and beauty, who as a little baby was stolen(M.M.I.W.) and raised by strangers, and as an adult reunited with her biological family including a Twin-Brother, learning she was apart of the White Earth Chippewa Tribe, and also a family member of Leonard Peltier, who in fact went in search of her. Throughout his career, DJ FL has drawn inspiration from his childhood experiences and memories, transforming internalizations of his mother’s pain into articulating visions to break generational trauma historically identified in colonized oppressed people. DJ FL is very close with his two sisters, one of which is an educator and the other scientist for NASA.
His Hip Hop experience began in 2001, when he led the Street Team for Dirt Works Records founded by Bicasso (F.K.A. DJ Bizzaro) of The Living Legends, a West Coast Underground Hip Hop collective. Bicasso was impressed with his work ethic and street sense, so he then referred him to a friend looking for promoters to work events to distribute pass out flyers and talk to people about their product. Aaron quickly moved into a management position, which then provided an opportunity of a lifetime by using this technical engineering skills to implement the "T-Shirt TV" for Def Jam and LL Cool J, to be used as their promotional tool for the 2004 MTV Music Awards in Miami, Florida. A tourism company in Toronto, Canada saw the awards show, and hired the company to help out on a tour, hiring Aaron as the Tech-manager traveling throughout Canada and the East Coast, spearheading the promotional tool for a National Radio Station.
He was raised working in the community, as he honed his writing before he began recording audio/visual reflections of his White Earth Chippewa Tribe, by attending Bay Area Pow Wows at Stanford, Vallejo and community events at the Eastside Arts Alliance and La Pena Cultural Center, at first handing out compact disc mixtapes he duplicated on the computer, later hosting community events and informational booths.
Career as an Artist
In 2010, DJ Free Leonard executive produced the "Free Leonard Peltier: Hip Hop's Contribution To The Freedom Campaign" which featured exclusive and original music from Immortal Technique, Rakaa of Dilated Peoples, 2Mex, Dee Skee, T-Kash, Buggin Malone and a host of local bay area artists. The revolutionary project touched a lot of their listeners and was received with warm reception by music lovers across the country. The project was a huge success and received a 92/100 rating on Okayplayer.com. This project has since become a collector’s special, and at one point this was being sold for $600 per CD by Amazon third party resellers.
In 2011, DJ FL co-produced and hosted the documentary "Free Leonard Free Em All!" with Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr.(Judas and The Black Messiah/Block Party), that was filmed at the Paid Dues Hip Hop festival. All of this helped raise awareness for DJ FL’s cousin Leonard Peltier - a political prisoner, who he also visited in prison that year. His documentary was on all the pressing issues that are prevalent in the community. The documentary went viral, which inspired DJ FL to work further and use his spoken words on other powerful stages.
In 2013, DJ FL established Human Writes Records to become the flagship recording artist and spoke in front of 3,000 people at the Indigenous Sunrise Ceremony on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay and the same day released "DJ Free Leonard: A Struggle for Human Rights" which was distributed and co-signed by Chuck D of Public Enemy (2015 Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame). This was another milestone for DJ FL and then in 2015, opened up for Rakim at Harlows in Sacramento and performed at Chuck D’s Lit It Up event in Ventura, CA. Soon after released his first solo album "DJ Free Leonard: Assimilate or Eliminate" with the first single "Pine Ridge Rez" produced by EA-Ski.
Ever since then he has recorded 180 songs, released 4 albums, 5 EP's, 30+ Music Videos, numerous radio interviews, TV appearances and music with highly acclaimed artists such as Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine), Umar Bin Hassan (The Last Poets), Ras, Kass, B-Legit, Eligh, Aesop, CMA, Bicasso of The Living Legends, Casual and Pep Love of The Hieroglyphics, Rakaa (Dilated Peoples), Askari X, Young Dirty Bastard (Wu Tang), Brother J of X-Clan, Ras Ceylon, Mama Wisdom, Braden “Ten Fold” Johnson, Arievolution, Makeba Mooncycle, Deuce Eclipse, Sadat X, Equipto, Spice 1, St Spittin, Sadat X (Brand Nubian), Kev Choice, and started a group with Baby Eazy E, the son of Eazy E(NWA/Straight Outta Compton), called "The Lineage".
Between the years 2011-2021, he has done over 100 Speaking Tours with Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr., had 20+ Music Videos aired in top rotation on First Nations Network, International Cinema Channel and Free Speech TV, released a book "Birthright Tribal Member" in which he received praise by KIller Mike who was quoted in the book as saying, "I Admire His Work". Also, formed a creative partnership with Chuck D of Public Enemy and recorded 5 songs at his studio in Ventura, CA. The partnership dissolved for unspecified reasons. The mismanagement continued with failed duo projects individually with both LuckyIAM of The Living Legends and Casual of Hieroglyphics respectively. During this period DJ FL studied and worked under DJ Purple Pam The Funktress(Prince/The Coup) as her Personal Assistant, with plans of touring Japan, and a residency in Las Vegas, before her untimely transition into the spiritual world. Devastated DJ FL dedicated himself to a healthy lifestyle.
In late 2020, DJ Free Leonard teamed up with Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine to urge then President Donald Trump to Free Leonard before leaving office. This move caught the attention of Oliver Stone, Seth Green, B-Real of Cypress Hill, Scarface, Redman, Cee-Lo, Big Boy, and many others who supported the song and campaign via their social networks. Despite their efforts along with many others, President Trump passed on Clemency for Leonard Peltier.
In the Summer of 2021, DJ FL began work on a new album with Ras Kass as executive producer and resuming to advocate to Free Leonard Peltier and All Political Prisoners!
Throughout his work, DJ FL focuses on his Indigenous traditions such as the Sweat Lodge Ceremony and works in the community while being a small business owner. He is an activist and advocate for Hemp CBD and acupuncture to help people heal from their addictions. He also donates to many community organizations, schools and tribal health centers with his cultural literacy programs. In 2019, Project Rebound presented his mother and DJ FL an award on behalf of San Francisco State University.