Musicians have often spoken out against war. Sometimes they've done it profoundly, as Bob Dylan did with his anthem "The Times They Are A-Changin'"; sometimes it's been more subtle, such as when Sheryl Crow performed on TV in a T-shirt emblazoned with "War Is Not the Answer." This Saturday's Rappers Stopping Violence and Prejudice, at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre, follows the tradition with an evening of music, spoken-word poetry and performance art in the name of understanding.
"It's my hope to inspire and politicize more of our local artists," says Jeff Campbell, executive director of the Colorado Hip-Hop Coalition, who organized the event. "I think that, by and large, the Denver community is fairly apathetic. Hip-hop in its purest, rawest form, is a voice for the community, the spirit of a people who wish to elevate themselves through creative expression."
RSVP will highlight local performers, including Minezai, Bugaboo, Cajardo, Out 2 Profit, L.O.C., Lady Speech, Deleon and Peace of Mind; participants will use art forms to comment on issues ranging from racism to the current conflict with Iraq. "Denver might be labeled a cowtown, and for good reason, but we have some big-city problems here," notes Campbell, who will serve as the evening's host. "Senseless violence like rapes and murders happen in our city like clockwork, and we've become so desensitized to our oppression and our own self-inflicted violence. We need to stand up and make some noise."
The printed word will also be part of the event: Community organizations such as the Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace, the Colorado Progressive Coalition, the Conflict Center, Project Pave and the Gang Rescue and Support Project will offer written information about their causes. And Brother Jeff's Cultural Center and Cafe will provide food and drinks.
"The African-American fight is the same as the gay fight, which is the same as the Muslim-American fight," says Campbell. "I want to show people that we can all support and love each other."