The revolutionary class struggle was in the house last night at Psi U (or on the stage, at least). Legendary anticapitalist hip hop duo Dead Prez took the stage following a panel sponsored by the Sociology Department in the afternoon focusing on inequality in the education system.
Openers from Weslayan’s own RAW, Evan Okun ’13, Izzy Coleman ’15, and David Stouck ’15 kicked off the show before Wes alum and frequent Dead Prez collaborator Umi performed his own energetic set. Headliners M1 and stic.man of Dead Prez followed, dropping the lyrical bombs of the insurrection for the hyped up crowd.
The show was like nothing else I’ve seen at Wesleyan (this was bigger than hip-hop). One has to wonder whether the Psi U brothers waving the American flag from the balcony
and sweating on their women folk in the corners truly understood what they were seeing. (Upon rereading this phrase I realize that the tone comes off as ugly. I did not get too intimate with any of these corner rendezvous, but had I, I might have found that not all of the participants were in fact women, or perhaps that they would resent being referred to by a possessive adjective in a Wesleying post the following day.) Further update after the jump.On the other hand, maybe they understood a little too well: I couldn’t help but notice that the crowd seemed to get thinner and thinner as the radical frankness of the lyrics got realer.
Nonetheless, it was a treat to see revolutionaries rapping about overthrowing the hegemony of middle class white people to a crowd of mostly, well… middle class white people.
Photos by Eric Lopez ’15 and Dat Vu ’15 below.
Update from Oswaldo: This post has sparked a fair amount of impassioned response in the comments section. This is never a bad thing, and I hope to contribute to that dialogue by expanding on my analysis of the audience’s reaction to the Dead Prez concert.
This post was in no way intended to imply that Saturday night’s show was anything short of an awesome time. The performers were fantastic, the crowd was vibing, and for the most part people had fun—no doubt about that. I also observed certain behavior from segments of the audience that I felt spoke in an interesting way to the social context in which the show took place, which I will elaborate on here.
There was, for instance, a large American flag, which waved conspicuously from the balcony above the stage for around eight minutes of Dead Prez’s set. It seemed to clash almost comically with the highly anti-imperialist tone of the performance going on below. M-1 noticed the flag and pointed at it disapprovingly repeatedly (the scene harkened me back to 1:50 in theTheySchoolz video). It was eventually removed by one of the organizers. I honestly don’t think that this was even meant to be a confrontational patriotic reaction to Dead Prez’s music, but rather just the way that guy wanted to celebrate and show he was having a good time. This, though, is pure speculation.
At another point in the performance, after a lyric denouncing Obama’s imperialist policies, a cheer went up in the crowd. I had the distinct impression that at least some of those people were cheering because they heard the word Obama. Again, I could be wrong about that, too.
It is also true that by halfway through Dead Prez’s set, the audience had dwindled dramatically, and that by the time they finished it was a shell of its former self. There are many reasons why this might have happened. Yes, Dead Prez didn’t come on until very late into the night, so maybe folks were tired. And yes, one could argue that the sound itself was not brilliant. But I would speculate that other factors were at play: namely, that many people were downright uncomfortable with being confronted so frankly and aggressively with the social antagonisms inherent in contemporary society. Indeed, I have seen shows of far poorer quality go much later into the night and still remain packed.
Wesleyan students are very good at talking about race and class in the Sociology classroom. This show made me wonder whether we were ready to do the same on a Saturday night.
I do, however, want to avoid making this post sound too cynical. Indeed, these pictures were meant to celebrate an incredible event which a lot of people had a lot of fun with, while the accompanying text was intended only as thought-provoking commentary. Nor should the actions of several brothers be reflective of the whole fraternity. Mad respect to Psi U for hosting such a fantastic event, and big up to the brothers who were bouncing to the music with their fists in the air.
I hope people continue to discuss this in the comments section. Again, my observations are largely speculative and I am interested to see if folks have different takes on what went down. Let’s keep up the dialogue.
Also, just a reminder: This post, like all posts on Wesleying, represents only the views of the individual blogger, not those of the staff or blog as a whole.