Photos: Dead Prez Brings Psi U to its Knees [Updated]

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.

  • E. Oks

    Awww, it sucks there’s so much negativity here. I hope this energy can be transformed into love and understanding, and that the discourse can shift from the concert to the education panel.

  • abarker

    nice job to ‘ugh’ for speaking some sense

  • ugh

    “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.”

    Gonna go out on a limb and say these two reasons were largely the motivation in people leaving the show, rather than your speculation that a bunch of drunk kids were turned off by the “with being confronted so frankly and aggressively with the social antagonisms inherent in contemporary society.” Most people at Wes probably don’t view a concert as a huge confrontation, and especially while drunk probably didn’t perceive it as such. Also, isn’t it reasonable to assume that people primarily wanted to just begin to make their way to Fountain, Junior Village, a special friend’s dormitory/residence? I think you’re overstating the intellectual thoughtfulness of the average Wesleyan student on a Saturday night at 1 a.m. I’d say we don’t only debate these sociological issues in the classroom, but also in the dining hall, in our living rooms, in the library, in places that such conversations make sense. On Saturday night at 1 a.m., what makes sense is that a large portion of this campus (though certainly not all) is interested in flirting with a person of interest and/or enjoying possibly too many drinks or other substances, and may leave little room for confrontations about “social antagonisms inherent in contemporary society.” Though maybe I’m committing an error similar to your own and underestimating my fellow students. Sure, I’ve seen a few belligerent, “intellectual” debates, but they usually don’t get very far. One needs only to watch some “Drunk History” to know that it becomes increasingly difficult to recount important facts or debate lofty ideas while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

    Your post, even with the much needed update, reads like a snarky swipe at not only members of greek societies, but the greater campus as a whole as you indict our campus for not being true liberals, true intellectuals, or even true human beings capable of simultaneously thinking for ourselves and enjoying a carefree social event. Maybe you think that a Dead Prez concert shouldn’t be so carefree, but who are you to decide how someone enjoys that live music? Maybe they see and understand the same implications that you raised here, but decided that night to enjoy the concert by dancing, pumping their fists in the air, drinking alcohol, waving flags, etc. Who are you to judge them or imply that they missed the point?

    • I like turtles

      that many people were downright uncomfortable with being confronted so frankly and aggressively with the social antagonisms inherent in contemporary society.

      I’m downright uncomfortable with being confronted so frankly and aggressively by attempts to use intelligent sounding terms to elevate the scope and intellectual depth of the overarching stereotypes and lack of understanding of what makes your average student tick on a weekend night

    • ughs are for Rosay only

      Dude your comment that kids don’t care about the social implications of Dead Prez’s lyrics because they are too drunk/dancey/poon hungry proves the original article correct. They don’t get it/don’t care/aren’t actually into the message of the music, making the concert a hilarious juxatposition. This seems to be the intended message of the author. He just shouldn’t have painted Psi U as a fratty ignorant group of ass clowns in the process and incite a backlash from a slew of people who I assume are mostly Psi U bros. Nor should he have placed himself above the foray being a white kid at an expensive liberal arts school

  • abarker

    btw the english in your post was s***

  • abarker

    what an outright ridiculous comment about psi u. ‘association of preppy trust fund conservatives’ is probably the laziest, least accurate categorization i have ever heard. spend some time in the house and you’d realize that the brothers aren’t radically different from most people in the school. and do you really think they’d be throwing a dead prez party if they were the people you say they are. get off it you madman.

    • snarky snarkwahlberg

      It’s sarcastic. but the english may actually be shit

    • you idiot

      ITS CALLED SARCASM YOU IDIOT

  • Malcolm X Would Be Proud

    I don’t know why anyone really cares.
    The last time Dead Prez was relevant was 2006. Way to go on booking a pair of irrelevant social activists for 10,000 dollars. I mean, it’s not like you could have spent that money on a awesome speaker series or something.
    I’ll just go sweat on my women-folk now.

  • take this shit down

    This post is so incredibly offensive. I know Wesleying is supposed to be all free speech and biased and shit, but what about some common decency and respect for fellow students/human beings?

  • JCU

    One has to wonder whether Daniel Plafker truly understands what an obnoxious stereotype of a Wesleyan student he sounds like. On the other hand, he just might be such a smug douche that he truly believes that no one else was familiar with Dead Prez before they came and the irony of the whole event!

  • bitter alum & proud of it

    “their women folk”

    ………”their women folk”?

    “their women folk”…………

    ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

  • WordSmith

    Some things just never change. I’m just glad to see hip-hop is alive and well at Wes this semester. Keep it positive.

    • bitter alum

      sure, listen to a white rapper telling you not to debate the politics of hip hop…

      you disgust me

      • WordSmith

        Yeah. Cause that’s definitely what I was saying. Sorry it made you mad.

        • bitter alum

          wtf were you saying then?

          • WordSmith

            If you want to have a conversation about what I was saying, go ahead and email me at jcsmith@wesleyan.edu, or Facebook me about it. Would love to talk about that. Peace.

  • david spade

    its funny that you used the same dead prez quote that e okay used… “whats that other dead prez song?…..”

  • mentally stunted capitalist

    Today on Wesleying: Daniel Plafker manages to offend every single person having fun at this weekend’s big concert, takes a direct strike at the hosts. I wish I could see it all like you do, man!

  • Where’s Oswaldo

    Funny since Oswaldo didn’t even buy a ticket to this show…

  • i am oswaldo

    how could you even understand the lyrics?

  • snarky snarkerson

    Well obv’s Psi U is an association of preppy trust fund conservatives unable to comprehend liberal politics, and the only true radical individuals reside in Westco or at Widowspeak concerts, and Oswaldo is not a student attending one of the most expensive new england liberal arts schools in da world because they’re too down with the cause of Dead Prez, who did not tell the crowd to buy their album a bunch because they are too far above capitalist incentives.

  • Who’s Oswaldo?

    Ouch. Maybe next time Psi U won’t be generous enough to open their doors to an event like this. That was an uncalled for snarky comment.