Raps Against the Government

Hip Hop Artists Battle Against Austerity at Concordia

UrbN LogiX was one of the performers at a Rap Battle Against Austerity on Friday at Reggie’s Bar inside the Hall building downtown. Photo Vince Morello
Lucas Charlie Rose was one of the performers at a Rap Battle Against Austerity on Friday at Reggie’s Bar inside the Hall building downtown. Photo Vince Morello
Marley C was one of the performers at a Rap Battle Against Austerity on Friday at Reggie’s Bar inside the Hall building downtown. Photo Vince Morello

Wearing a light blue buttoned shirt, charcoal slacks, and a tie, with stacks of paper money in hand, rapper The Duke fought for austerity.

His rhymes tried to cut down his opponents, just like the government slashes budgets, but he found no support within the crowd full of university students at Reggie’s.

At the Rap Battle Against Austerity last Friday, hip hop artists from around the city battled for and against cuts to public institutions. Up on stage, the artists would rhyme back and forth, dissing the budget cuts and the government. On the other side, the rhymes explained how austerity is great for the one per cent.

“We’re not going to all the way pro, were not going to invite anyone from the Liberal party or anyone like that to represent but we do have The Duke,” said Dan Parker, the organizer of the event and a Concordia alum. “He has a whole character where he really pretends that he’s a pro austerity character.”

The Duke took his printed money and tried to buy off some of the artists and viewers to get them to support his cause. Every time he got up on stage, the boos would rain down on his pro-government rhetoric.

“It’s demonstration by absurd, it’s showing the full power of pro-austerity rhetoric,” said The Duke, after bribing this reporter with some of his fake $100 bills. “[Austerity is] all about concentrating wealth to people like me, who are going to make sure people are as poor as they can be so that my kids and my lineage is rich.”

This was the fourth rap battle of its kind addressing current social and economic issues, but the first one held at Concordia. Previous rap battles criticized tar sands and pipelines. Parker booked most of the artists, but the funding came from the umbrella group Concordia Against Austerity, which includes the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association, the Concordia University Library Employees’ Union, the Concordia Student Union and the Graduate Student Association.

Performers included Meryem Saci, Strange Froots, Project Tombz, Marley C, Lucas Charlie Rose, The Duke, and even the organizer Dan Parker.

Taigenz also performed at the show.

He began with a pro-austerity set, his hook being, “there is no alternative.”

“I’m going to be the devil’s advocate, my stance is pro-austerity at the beginning,” said Taigenz. “It’s one thing to bash one thing but you want to put yourself in the opposite position as well, just so you can have a feel as to why these measures are being taken.”

During the show, some artists did austerity versions of some popular songs. Dan Parker and Project Tombz rapped over Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools,” and UrbN LogiX rapped over Lamar’s “King Kunta.”

“It was just an option that was given, I didn’t really pick it but I told them I could use anything and they gave me that one,” said LogiX about the song he rapped over. “I call it ‘Wicked Rulers’ because I feel like the people in power don’t really make the right decisions necessarily right now because they’re wicked and they have selfish motivations.”

LogiX also had some fun at the expense of the Duke by taking some of his money and lighting it on fire.

Aside from giving an entertaining show, the rap battle was also about education. Taigenz mentioned how austerity is a complicated issue to really grasp, and the battle is an easy way for people to understand the issues at hand.

The next battle will be with the Centre for Gender Advocacy and Queer Concordia in what will be called the Battle for Gender Freedom.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said most of the event’s funding came from the CSU and GSA. In fact, funding came primarily from Concordia Against Austerity, a campus umbrella group which includes these associations as well as CUPFA and CULEU, the unions representing part-time faculty and library employee respectively.