One of my favorite albums of 2011 was La Dispute's Wildlife. This post-hardcore act, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, wrote 14 tracks all overflowing with angst and emotion. In my opinion, the highlight of Wildlife is the track "King Park" which discusses the aftermath of a gang shooting that occurred in frontman Jordan Dreyer's hometown.
Now I'm more than aware that La Dispute is not the type of act that would appeal to GlobalGrind's main demographic. Trust me, I understand La Dispute's niche appeal; the abrasive guitars and strained vocals could be off-putting to many listeners. However, don't call me crazy when I claim that La Dispute isn't all that different from artists like Immortal Technique or Lupe Fiasco.
Beneath the yelling and distortion of "King Park" is an emotional and passionate plea for peace. The song describes a crime scene in which a local gang shot a kid who "had nothing to do with" the world of crime. The song continues to follow the murderer who was "only 20 years old" and was nicknamed "Grandpa" due to his age (the fellow gang members were a few years his junior.)
When I first read the lyrics to "King Park" I immediately connected its content to a few songs from the rap world, such as "Dance With The Devil" by Immortal Technique or "Little Weapon" by Lupe Fiasco. With the murder of Trayvon Martin in mind, all three of these songs take on a new meaning. With all the news coverage of Trayvon's untimely death, one can put a face to the victims identified in these songs.
This brings me to my main point, which is highlighting the cultural ties between punk acts, like La Dispute, and hip-hop acts, such as Immortal Technique or Lupe Fiasco. Many rappers and punk musicians come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, and they also witness the same injustices, especially acts of gang violence. These artists share a thread that connects them, an inherent connection to the world of violence. As artists, they lament these local travesties in their respective forms of expression. The music they write may come from different scenes, but the artists come from similar communities. Just because they gravitate towards different subcultures of music doesn't deduct from the fact that they encounter a similar sense of strife.
One has to respect the cultural ties between all artists, because in essence, this is how one can define America. We live in a country made up of eclectic minds, which clash in many cases, but at the end of the day, the public as a whole face the same sense of struggle. We are all witnesses to injustice in some form or another. By accepting and embracing the different musical subcultures in America, we in turn accept and embrace the diverse sense of minds among the American people. Through that form of acceptance and understanding, the American people would find it easy work side-by-side in the fight against injustice.
The African-American kid in the hoodie and Nike SBs may look like a far cry from the white kid who rocks band t-shirts and Chuck Taylors, but I can assure you that the music they listen to has the same therapeutic value. We live in a time of massive diversion among the American people, and I do not mean to disregard the diversity among the public, but I would like to see a higher level of respect for neighboring subcultures. At the end of the day, the members of La Dispute and Immortal Technique have their hearts in the same exact place.