“The liberation of the earth, the liberation of women, the liberation of all humanity is the next step of freedom we need to work for, and it’s the next step of peace that we need to create.” – Vandana Shiva
Originally posted on Nottingham Indymedia.
On Thursday November 10th 2011, over 250 people attended the Nottingham launch of revolutionary rapper Lowkey’s “Soundtrack to the Struggle” album.
The hiphop artist and activist who has traveled to Palestine and whose #1-selling album raises awareness about the arms trade, Islamophobia, the so-called “War on Terror”, international U.S military bases and the hypocrisy of Western leaders including Obama, enjoyed a warm welcome from the Nottingham crowd which included students from both universities and colleges as well as local residents. Fans sang along to lyrics rejecting war and Western consumerism, promoting instead justice, equality and peace. Prior to the headline act, an open mic took place, and local artists such as El Dia (who’s performing at the Sumac‘s Insurrection Hiphop night this Friday) and MC Drago warmed up the crowd with their politically conscious lyrics and cheers of “Free Free Palestine!” Logic, Awate, and Crazy Haze, who accompany Lowkey on tour, were also met with enthusiastic appreciation of their inspiring lyrics. Poet and journalist Jody McIntyre then shared his critical, witty, political poetry to a receptive audience.
The stage was adorned with a large Palestinian flag and graffiti pieces created by 16-year old Lowkey fan Usamah Qaiser and the venue also hosted a diverse range of stalls from local activist organisations and campaign groups. Palestinian Solidarity Campaign was joined by Notts Uni Palestinian Society, Nottingham Students Against Fees and Cuts, Nottingham Refugee Forum, local artists and Veggies from the Sumac who provided tasty samosas and vegan cake along with relevant newspapers and pamphlets such as Peace News. Radical feminist collective Sisters of Resistance politicised the women’s toilets with details of their anti-imperialist, pro-vegan hip-hop blog.
The diverse crowd engaged with the stalls, took flyers and purchased Palestinian scarfs (kuffiyehs) raising money for Palestine and becoming aware of the need for organised resistance. Members of the audience were encouraged to become actively involved in building alternatives to the exploitative, unsustainable system that the featured artists powerfully denounced. With Lowkey’s soundtrack as the inspiration, the successful event saw revolutionary activists and hiphop fans, students and locals alike united in their determination to continue the struggle.
This is the first in a regular column featuring – who else? – women we admire. Today we feature Erykah Badu, one of the foremost musical artists of our time and one of SoR’s favourite singer/songwriters. Attending her concert in London July 2010 was one of the founding experiences of SoR. She gave us the conviction that we too could speak truth to power. Vegan, pro-woman, spiritually enlightening and politically empowering, Ms Badu is a massive inspiration to us all.
Who: Erykah Badu, Neo-Soul Artist
Why We Love Her: Badu combines feminism, veganism, revolutionary politics and her ‘hood’ southern Texan background to rep for women and those criminalised and marginalised by the system. We also admire her fearlessness and open critique of the music industry. She has shown herself unafraid to take artistic risk to make a personal/political statement. She’s a Tweeter, a mother, a lover and a fighter.
What she has accomplished: While her discography so far is already a life time achievement, with her last two albums Badu manages to surpass herself. New Amerykah Part 1 (4th World War) and Part 2 (Return of the Ankh) take the listener on an incredible auditory journey; the lack of wider success can only be explained with the notion that Badu is before her time. Through her genre-shattering combination of hip-hop and neo-soul she delivers subtle political messages that are never imposing or moralising. You could listen to her song “Soldier” and miss the anti-war message; but the one-line is enough to convey the sentiment: “to my boys in Iraqi fields, this aint no time to kill.” In the same song, Badu also briefly refers to women’s sexual and mental health issues, expresses her support for industrial action “to my folks on the picket line, don’t stop til you change they mind” and repeatedly condemns police brutality and corruption. The mantra that begins “The Healer” poetically envokes numerous deities before asserting that hiphop is bigger than religion and “bigger than the government.” Badu suggests that, as a vehicle through which the oppressed can articulate and organise against their oppression, hiphop has the potential to heal the wounds inflicted by the system; wounds which historical forms of governance and traditional religion have both failed to address. Rejecting the materialism and commercialism endorsed by other more mainstream female artists, Badu instead speaks out for her people.