Rap artist advocates labour as a tool for change

Photo by Peter McIntosh
Photo by Peter McIntosh

Hip-hop artist Boots Riley raps with the crowd at Moot Court, in the University of Otago Richardson Building, yesterday.

The controversial American rapper and political activist regaled a packed court with his public lecture, ''Hip-Hop and the Class Struggle'', as part of a media, film and communication department symposium.

''There are so many parallels between New Zealand and what is happening in the US. On Friday nights, everyone is wondering where the party is at and at the end of the month, everyone is wondering how they're going to pay the rent,'' he said.

''It's translated into different ways, of course. But we're in a worldwide economic system and I want to talk to people about the need for a movement for social change. If we want any power to change, we have to use labour as a tool. People can make change by withdrawing their labour. They can shut down an industry. Otherwise, we're just complaining.''

The 42-year-old Coup frontman is regarded as one of the most influential radical American musicians of the past two decades.

However, his highlighting of economic inequality and exploitation issues has also seen him monitored by United States Government intelligence agencies and barred from speaking at universities.

Riley will play a Radio One acoustic session with hip-hop producer Scalper and DJ Goldstein at Chick's Hotel tonight.

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