CORRECTION: Day and a Dream is co-sponsoring this weekend's Space City Beat Battle, not Hip Hop the Vote. Between emailing about the two events, we got our wires crossed. Rocks Off regrets the error.
The election is coming, and even in such a polarizing political climate exemplified by Mitt Romney's "47 percent" remarks that dominated news about the presidential campaign last week, far too many people can't be bothered to vote.
Disenfranchisement -- a $10 word that not only means you can't or don't vote, but a general feeling that your opinion doesn't matter -- is especially acute among the young, minorities and the underprivileged. According to the Houston grass-roots activist organization Texans Together, more than 600,000 eligible citizens in Harris County are unregistered to vote, far too many of them in one or more of the above categories.
What these potential voters need is someone who can explain to them why voting matters, help them get registered and somehow convince them that "voting can be hip and fun." Indeed.
So longtime Texas rap promoter, DJ and former Houston Press music listings editor Matt Sonzala has put together today's "Hip Hop the Vote" concert, scheduled to coincide with Voter Registration Day, at the Reggae Bodega/Irie Juices (4814 Almeda Rd.) The deadline to vote in the Nov. 6 election is Oct. 9, or just two weeks away.
Scheduled to appear at the free show, which runs 4-8 p.m., are Houston's Chingo Bling, Doughbeezy, the Niceguys and Dat Boi T (aka Screwed Up Essay). If the early start time isn't enough of a hint, the show won't tune anyone's ears blue and is designed to be a nonpartisan affair.
Assuming that the Niceguys live up tor their names (they almost always do), Rocks Off asked one of our own contributors, Brando --
whose rap-centered Web site Day and a Dream is one of the event's co-sponsors -- what people might expect from the other PG-rated sets.
"Doughbeezy's a chameleon," he says. "He appreciates challenges and considering how male-centric his work is, it'll be fun watching him tone down. Chingo Bling, on the other hand, is the king. He'll cover all audiences with ease."
We also asked Brando
why he chose to co-sponsor Hip Hop the Vote rather than cover it in a more conventional editorial fashion, and then how convincing he thinks a free show like today's can be to convince young people to fill out that voter registration card.
"It's important for rap fans no matter what age to vote no matter what age, in any election, local elections especially since they set up the laws you have to live within," he says. "A lot of people don't vote simply because they don't believe their vote matters, and overall it will be eaten alive by the general population - for example, if you're a Dem in Texas you're going to feel slighted because it's a red state."
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But, he adds, "an event like this can be pretty damn convincing, mainly because you're giving fans a service they always will want - free music - and sliding in voting and civic duty on top of it."
The bottom line, though, is that once you earn the right to vote, you still have to use it about six weeks from now. One more Hip Hop the Vote show may be needed before Election Day, says Brando, to give things "one last-minute kick." Stay tuned.