It seems like politics are all people can talk about lately. Spend any time near social media or a television and you'll quickly become bombarded by debates, memes and talking heads. This election cycle continues to be the most extreme train wreck of ideologies we’ve seen in recent memory, but even if we can’t reach an accord when it comes to our government, there’s at least one thing Houston can agree on — H-Town rap still rules the 713. (And 281, 832 and 346 as well.)
Hoping to capitalize on that spirit of unity, the Texans Together Education Fund organization hopes to inspire Houstonians to get out the vote on Election Day. Or rather, Screw Up the Vote.
Promoter Matt Sonzala has organized a free show from 5 to 10 p.m. tomorrow at 8th Wonder Brewery, encouraging people to vote. H-Town legends like the Screwed Up Click (Lil' Keke, E.S.G., Big Pokey and C-Note), Paul Wall, Lyric Michelle, Dat Boi T, Dirty & Nasty and TK will all be on hand not only to perform, but to remind people that their vote counts and it’s important to make their collective political voice heard.
Sonzala is serious about reaching Houstonians through Screw Up the Vote, especially young people who may be voting for the first time. “We work to bring the public to these events through music,” he says, noting that events like Saturday's were created “so the youth would get to meet and speak with community leaders and artists.”
Explaining the reasoning behind such an event, he adds, “the powers that be don't want young people — especially of color — to vote.”
Naturally, the event's name evokes an important part of Houston's music culture.
“In Houston, to 'screw up' something has a different meaning than other places, of course, because of DJ Screw," says Sonzala. "'Screwed up’ is positive Houston slang. So, the whole point is that we want young people to stand up and Screw Up the Vote. Actually go vote and exercise your right to do so, and work to make the changes that you want to see.”
Saturday is not Sonzala's first effort to get out the vote, either.
“In the last presidential election cycle, I worked with Texans Together in neighborhoods around Houston,” he continues. “We did smaller concerts in community centers and neighborhood parks with people like Doughbeezy, Trae, Willie D and more.”
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For Sonzala, a native Houstonian and virtual historian on H-Town rap history, energizing the community is an effort close to his heart. He promises this year’s guest speakers will include local politicians and other surprise guests, who will be on hand to build voter awareness and remind Hustle Town why voting matters. “It will be part concert, part nonpartisan rally to get people interested in voting, and to remind them to vote early,” Sonzala says.
While the deadline to register to vote in Texas has already passed, those who are registered can still make a difference. Being less than a month away from election day — it’s actually November 8, not 28, Mr. Trump — this event is extremely important to those who may be undecided or just apathetic. Sonzala recognizes this and promises more events to get voters motivated.
“We will also have another event on October 29 with Los Skarnales,” he adds. “And more [events] where we will have buses to take people to vote early.”