I was recently invited to perform at the University of Connecticut on November 4th as the principal performer for a “Political Awareness Rally”. About a week before the event I got an email from the organizer, who ironically I met at Occupy Wall St, saying people were concerned about my performance, particularly the song “Occupy (We the 99).” I thought this was very strange because this is supposed to be an institution of higher learning that welcomes all types of ideas, plus the event was a rally for political awareness. The organizer said he would not censor me, but if I performed it I might not get paid. Then I received an email directly from the comptroller of the Undergraduate Student Government saying specifically I could not perform “Occupy (We the 99).”
I initially agreed to perform only a set of songs the University of Connecticut deemed “not political” because the event had already been advertised around campus and didn’t want to disappoint my fans by not showing up. I also didn’t want to let down the organizers who did a lot of hard work in putting the event together. But when I arrived at the University of Connecticut I had a change of heart. As I looked around the crowd I began to think of all the people around the world occupying for a better tomorrow, being arrested and brutalized by police, sleeping in the cold and rain, sacrificing comfort for freedom. I knew at that moment I had to perform the song, “Occupy (We the 99)” as well as other “political” songs like “Real Gangstas” (about the Wall St bankers), even if it meant I would not get paid. At some point in this movement all of us are going to have to make sacrifices, if we truly want to see real change. The 1% control the 99% with promises of money, access, and comfort; we have to put our own souls above all three.