In times of oppression, people turn to other forms of communication to fuel their resistance.
In some cases, art can be used as that form of resistance.
The Toronto based hip-hop group, Test Their Logik, made a stop in Regina as part of their nation-wide tour to support Israeli Apartheid Week.
Composed of two Toronto artists, Testament and Illogik, Test Their Logik performs subversive, conscious and political music aimed at inspiring people to empower themselves and their communities.
Having performed nationally and internationally, including performances in Palestine, Testament says hip-hop culture in the occupied territories is strong and thriving.
“When I was in Palestine, I saw that there was a really vibrant hip hop culture there and I think that’s really important to take note of,” he said. “Hip-hop is kind of the voices from below; it comes from the street. It’s like street journalism, in a sense. Hip-hop is thriving around the world where people are oppressed, where people are going against oppressive power systems.”
He added that there are many Palestinian hip-hop artists, and the culture is strong throughout the Middle East, Africa, and in Canada within the Indigenous community.
“I feel like it’s important for us to build our own cultures and cultures of solidarity and community,” Testament said. “So having celebrations with music and art really reaffirms people’s convictions, and inspires people in ways that things like speeches, or books, [or] other mediums of communication don’t affect people in the same way. Music affects people in a certain way; film affects people in a certain way. It’s a form to get … our politics and our culture out in as many ways as possible.”
“Hip-hop is kind of the voices from below; it comes from the street. It’s like street journalism, in a sense." – Testament
While Testament believes hip-hop can be a strong and powerful form of communication, it can also cause political tension.
In 2010, Test Their Logik released their music video, Crash the Meeting, on YouTube in response to Toronto’s G-20 summit. Viewed by over 50,000 people, the song is a collage of clips showing protestors and rioters resisting authority. The song calls on Canadians to be united against the G-20.
The song led to the arrest of the artists on charges of “indictable conspiracy and counseling charges and given bail conditions of non-association.” Five months later, the charges were stayed, and Test Their Logik was back at creating music and pushing for change.
Hip-hop, explained Testament, allows people from different cultures to come together to share ideas, and stand against the corrupt authoritative systems.
“People from different walks of life come out to a music show and so cross-pollination happens and people meet each other and they can do things together,” he said. “They can bridge communities and they can work together building a freer, more joyful world for all people.”
However, just using music as a way to resist won’t solve the problem on its own. While music is one medium of resistance, Testament says diverse forms of communication can come together to bring change, and start movements.
“You have people coming at it [in] a lot of different ways,” he explained. “People coming at it through art, people coming at it through lectures, or educational work, people writing about it in newspapers, people putting pressure on institutions and individuals and powers. All of these things reinforce each other. The artists learn from the people doing lectures and writing books. They also help inspire activists who will go take actions and apply pressure. It’s a community. Everyone’s got a part to play in that community in terms of making it stronger, and strengthening the community and pushing those goals forward.”
Photo by Taouba Khelifa