If you feel Columbia’s burgeoning hip hop scene is too reliant on irony and faux-misogyny, look no further than tonight’s politically charged “Born in Flames” concert at Roone Arledge Auditorium in Lerner. Students for Justice in Palestine (along with a plethora of other groups, including Lucha, Columbia ISO, B.S.O., Radical C.U.N.T.S., Freedom School, Asian American Alliance, S.E.E.J., M.S.A., and C.U.S.H.) has recruited Tamar Kali, a Brooklyn based punk rock singer, Jean Grae, a New York City hip hop artist who hails from South Africa, and Invincible, an Israeli-born, staunchly anti-Zionist hip hop artist who currently resides in Detroit, to bring three and a half hours of quality music from the underground hip hop and punk scene to Columbia as part of their “Born in Flames” tour.
While the concert is undeniably political, Daro Behroozi, one of the main organizers for the event, says that it concert was born of a true love for the music. Invincible had performed at the last SJP conference, and Behroozi recalls “she was one of the few hip hop artists that I’ve liked live. It was a unique experience to see her perform… it was more than just putting a DJ on stage and her playing over it.” After contacting her management, the three touring artists agreed to perform at Columbia, and participate in an activism workshop beforehand.
Though the event comes at the end of Israel Apartheid week, Behroozi maintains that event’s timing is purely coincidental. “We had to book the space months in advance, long before this was even set aside as ‘National Israeli Apartheid Week,’” Behroozi tells us. That’s not to say that the event will be apolitical, he assures us. “I’ve always believed art is inherently political, everything exists within a political context. [The choice to bring] these artists, while not specifically politically aligned one way or another, was very deliberately political.” He likened these artists to their more well known, equally politically conscious male counterparts, like M-1 of Dead Prez, Lupe Fiasco, and Public Enemy.
Behroozi hopes that the event will not merely boil down to one-dimensional political statements; one aim of the concert, and the tour as a whole, is to bring underrepresented groups like women of color to the forefront of music genres like Hip Hop and Punk. “The key is that these artists, like Jean Grae and Invincible; they’re already here, so it’s not a matter of promoting more… but rather drawing attention to them.”
The ultimate aim is to promote solidarity among social movements through music, something that these artists, also tireless community organizers, all have in common. Behroozi hopes that these groups can continue to work together to strategize and reinforce connections in the fight against systems of oppression, citing the Troy Davis incident as one where seemingly disparate groups across campus came together to fight for the cause of social justice. To continue the fight, all three artists, along with members of sponsoring groups, will be holding a workshop from 3 – 5pm, in the Malcolm X lounge of Hartley Hall, in addition to an after-party at Casa Latina. Because if you don’t know, now you know…
The “Born in Flames” concert is tonight, in the Roone Arledge Audiotorium in Lerner from 8 pm — 11:30 pm. Tickets are on sale for $7 with CUID, $15 without. The workshop will be held beforehand in the Malcolm X lounge of Hartley Hall from 3 – 5pm and is free.
Mad swag via Born in Flames website