Consumerism is defined as the “protection and promotion of the interests of the consumer,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Dan Parker is looking to show that it is maybe time to update the term.
On March 29th, the latest installment of Rap Battles for Social Justice, “Rap Battles Against Consumerism”, will take place at Le Belmont, at 8 p.m.
Over the past two years, Rap Battles for Social Justice have been a part of a growing movement that uses hip-hop as a way to raise awareness and support for various causes. Dan Parker, the co-founder, head organizer, and often performer, has been at the forefront of all of the past seven battles. However, this chapter of the event will soon be coming to a close, as Parker will be moving on in order to continue his work as a teacher in British Columbia. “It’s a little bittersweet, these last rap battles, but I’m hoping they continue [after I’m gone],” Parker said.
This time on the cutting board is the theme of consumerism. Like all of the events, both sides of the topic will have a chance to use their lyrical prowess in order to make their case. This event is geared towards those who feel the need to consume less, or are concerned with their environmental impact through their own consumerism.
“In this battle on consumerism, we’re going to have both sides going back and forth, but it’s going to be fairly natural for some to take on that caricature, or maybe just say, it’s all about making that paper,” Parker explained. “Having those two discourses battle each other rhythmically, that’s what we’re looking for.”
According to Parker, this duality is all part of the fun. It has been prominent within hip-hop community, going back to the 90s, with the rise of socially conscious rap being juxtaposed with the gangster, bling rappers of the era. This has continued even in modern day rap music, with artists like Kendrick Lamar warning of the dangers of materialism on his last album, compared to artists like 2 Chainz, who are more focused on the glories of wealth and fame.
This event also is a late addition to the Concordia Student Union’s Anti-Consumerism Week that took place earlier this month. Rap Battles for Social Justice and the CSU are partnering up for this coming battle. These rap battles are also backed by the Concordia Urban Science department and CJLO.
The goal of these events, as described by Parker, is to have a consistent mix of professional artists perform with anyone who wants to step up and have their voice heard. The lack of formality and judgement at these battles are meant to be a way to include everyone, even participants with diverging views on the themes.
These themes being battled on stage have seemed to have struck a chord with many hip-hop activists who are worried about topics such as police brutality and climate justice. More than anything, uniting the community and providing a medium for the voices of artists is the endgame for Parker and the event.