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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Mos Def coming to Brandeis with special guest

Published: March 18, 2005
Section: Arts, Etc.

Sometimes I feel guilty for enjoying rap. I dont want to pay a rappers salary and promote the appreciation for shiny things and senseless violence among poor kids. In recent years, much of mainstream rap has degenerated into such messages being aimed at blacks and sponsored by whites. Yet the smooth poetry flowing from Mos Def and many other loyalists of New Yorks lyricist lounge (including Talib Kwali and Hi Tek) are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also potent reminders of an imperfect system. People get better when they start to understand what makes [them] valuable, Mos Def proclaims in Fear Not of Man.

Following in Tupacs footsteps, Mos Def is a visionary shaped by the world around him. His words resonate with the universal desire for a better place to live and continuously call for exposing inequities in the status quo. From places where TB is common as TV (New World Water) to jewel theft and robbery to combat poverty (Mathematics), Moss rhymes bring the harsh realities that white people have been conditioned to ignore, into their living rooms.

So maybe it isnt so strange that this big rapper is coming to Brandeis. Our institution, despite its obvious flaws and bureaucratic inefficiency, has managed to instill in us an appreciation for social justice. The student body of Brandeis includes some of the most socially conscious wealthy white kids that I have ever met. While we band together to petition for equal wages for janitors in our community, Mos raps for the underprivileged of his community.

While Mos raps about budget cuts in education and violence in the city, Brandeis integrates students of all ethnicities into a first class education, not through affirmative action, but by giving them a chance to succeed without the shackles of inner city strife. How can we stand idly when our neighbors are being denied the American dream? In Life is Real, Mos stresses the need to reach the world but touch the street first. We have to be more perceptive to the 35 million Americans living below the poverty line. We all want to change the world;

Mos Def has given us a place to start in our own back yards.