Hip-Hop Gets Political
March 10, 2005 7:08 PM
Will “Iron Shiek” Youmans stands in the middle of the Malcolm X Plaza prompting the crowd to chant, “No justice, no peace!” His is 6 feet 3 inches tall and wears a white and green Palestine jersey while he raps from an activist point of view.
“I’m not a rapper who dabbles in politics,” Iron Sheik says after his fourth performance at SF State. “I don’t really respect that as much. Sometimes it can be very simplistic and not progressive. I’m trying to educate people.”
The hip-hop performance on Thursday was one of several events planned by the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) and the Arab Student Coalition to celebrate Arab and North Africa Awareness Week.
Monday kicked off the celebration with music, dance, artwork, and food. Tuesday night the organization presented the film “We Interrupt this Empire,” a movie on protesting the war in Iraq. The theme for Thursday was “politics in the Middle East”.
The weeklong celebration is the first on campus. Arab and North Africa Awareness Week takes place on CSU and UC campuses and focuses on educating students about Arab Nations.
“We’re trying to think of different ways this semester to reach out to our student body and really make them interested in learning about our issues and our struggles,” said Loubma Qutafi, a psychology major and member of GUPS. “We thought that hip-hop was a good way to integrate our struggles because, in the hip-hip community here, they talk about so many other struggles.”
Iron Shiek and Ibrahim “Patriarch” Batshon entertained curious audience members and participants of the Arab and North Africa Awareness Week who gathered in the Malcolm X Plaza to get a dose of the political messages relayed in the performer’s lyrics. The rappers incorporated both personal experiences and political views in their rhymes.
“Very beautiful, very energizing, I felt it from the moment I stepped foot on 19th Avenue all the way down, so I came rushing to them,” said Sari-Sabella, a film and production major. Hardly a shy member of the audience, Sabella created a show of his own by dancing while Shiek performed.
Though, both hip-hop artists have very different styles on how they deliver their music, the words lyrically spoken portray a common idea. When Patriarch approached the microphone, the words “fuck peace!” easily poured from his mouth.
“What I meant by fuck peace is because of the state we’re in right now, where no one is giving, no one is ready to put out a helping hand and help so, I’m like fuck peace, give me a piece, (Tupac) said that,” said Patriarch.
Arab and North Africa Awareness Week will end with GUPS hosting an “Arabi style” party from 9:30 p.m. – 2 a.m. Friday at the Marrakech restaurant in San Francisco. There is a $10 cover charge.
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