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Coming to survey Alabama this weekend are three well-known and well-respected hip hop artists: Rhymefest, Jasiri-X, and Paradise, known as “Arkitech” of the X-clan (someone who was described to me as one of the “forefathers of hip-hop.”)
They are going to be in Birmingham, Alabama to attend the launch of the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice campaign against HB 56, Alabama’s worst-in-the-nation immigration law. The event, which is slotted for the 21st, will kick-off with a delegation of 9 members of Congress, led by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL).
A little background information on HB 56: Alabama’s immigration legislation comes down on both undocumented and documented immigrants, and American citizens aren’t safe from it either. In fact, the law is so bad that even Republican politicians are looking to review the law because of its “unintended consequences.” Late last week, they even removed notorious architect of the law, State Senator Scott Beason, from his position as Chair of the Alabama Senate Rules Committee. This law is so harsh that it even comes down on children, who are now too afraid to go to school — something Rhymefest might be interested in knowing, given his substitute teacher beginnings…
Rhymefest, who is from Chicago, has co-written with the likes of Kanye West, and was the first American rapper to meet with British dignitaries. His bio poetically states “Few rappers can brag about defeating the lyrical wizard Eminem in one breath, stake claim to music’s most coveted prize – a Grammy. From battling off the top of the head, to penning classic hits, Rhymefest is one of Hip Hop’s most dangerous emcees.”
The artist explained to America’s Voice why he’s coming to Alabama.
“Barack Obama’s father was an immigrant, Arnold Schwarzenegger is an immigrant. This is a nation of immigrants, why is Arizona and Alabama discriminating against the American Tradition that made this country great? It’s the great hypocrisy!”
Jasiri-X, who is getting much acclaim for his song in support of the Occupy movement, “Occupy (We the 99),” (check out the video on YouTube) added, “Legislation like Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s AB 56, designed specifically to single out one group of people for persecution is at best anti-American, and at worst, legalized racism.” He and Paradise Gray have been involved in a number of campaigns, and are co-founders of One Hood Media, which is a project to train urban youth on media outreach.
The artists are going to be traveling around Alabama with one young activist, William Anderson, who has gotten some attention already for his Change.org petition asking Kanye West, who was just in Alabama with Jay-Z prepping for their latest tour, to stand up and make a statement against the law. William and friends, like Victor Palafox and the Alabama Dreamers for the Future, have been on the frontlines in the battle against HB 56. These young people are really amazing leaders. (Check out their new twitter account: BamaDREAMers).
Word is spreading, and we’ll have more once they land. Stay tuned here for updates on their trip this weekend.