Cafe Resistance the fourth time around

by Leena Saleh

Cultivating the arts to resist oppression is a continuing tradition for  DePaul’s SJP which held their fourth annual Cafe Resistance on Jan.  24. With a room full of guests, more than 100, a diverse mix of  performers wowed the crowd with their rhythmic beats and words  of conviction.

KrisDeLash, a DePaul student and emerging artist graced the stage with upbeat energy and powerful rhymes with a backdrop of old school beats. Staying true to her reputation her sharp, biting, lyrics called for critique of our apathetic society; “SmartPhones with dumb batteries.”

Bill Chambers, of the Palestine Solidarity Group, swiped the mic next and reminded his audience of activists being served subpoenas from the FBI. “Stand up if you’re Palestinian, know a Palestinian, have ever supported Palestine, have been to Palestine, or wants to go to Palestine, please stand up.” After every last guest stood up, Chambers continued, “Everyone of you standing up is a target and considered a threat to national security.” Chambers launched into a few politically charged poems that highlighted obstacles for activism and oppressive discrepancies.

Performing at DePaul for the first time was Phero who was “ready to have some fun.” Combining a fusion of Latin jazz and street beats, Phero delivered his rhymes with enthused words and pulsating vibes.

Next up was King Keith,  bred in the southwest side of Chicago, a spoken word champion, youth organizer, and community activist.  He’s worked with many youth organizations such as the Southwest Youth Collaborative, Kuumba lynx, and the AAAN. Hopping up on stage holding a cup of water in each hand, Keith stood waiting. After a few moments he informed his audience that he liked to perform a small ritual where he toasts to the earth. Smooth, mellow words that flowed one after another like a calm tide coupled with creative transitions made his spoken word uniquely entertaining.

“I like this room. It’s smart, political, and olive,” joked Kevin Coval the prominent author and spoken word artist who is currently poet-in-residence at The Jane Addams’ Hull House Museum at The University of Illinois-Chicago and poet-in-residence at The University of Chicago’s Newberger Hillel Center, and teaches at The School of the Art Institute in Chicago.

Donning a teacher-esque style Coval began his pieces which cleverly implemented playing with grammar, annunciation, and alliteration to convey issues of identity. With perfectly pronounced syllables, Coval passionately dissected the conflict through identity and definitions.

Reappearing for the third Cafe Resistance in a row was Gon, the Chicago-based hip hop artist whose rhymes center around political and social commentary. Utilizing playful but rough lyrics Gon’s quirky humor permeates his music and style. Rallying the audience out of their seats and to the front of their stage, Gon introduced his performance partner, a mime complete with a white-painted face and gloves.

Using his mime, named Hernandez, as his shadow partner, mimicking his moves and miming along with the lyrics, Gon captured the crowd’s attention and laughs.

Ending the night was Khaled M., the emcee who originally hails from Libya and grew up in Kentucky, and no stranger to SJP’s Cafe Resistance. Shedding light on the oppressive obstacles in Libya, Khaled reminded his audience to fight injustice everywhere and combine struggles of all oppressed peoples. With gracefully executed pieces Khaled spun his lyrical web, which encompassed fighting for rights and commenting on social issues.

The crowd cheered and left with earfuls of heartfelt words that, although coming from a scope of sources, all pointed to one message. The continuous struggle to resist oppression of all forms is a duty that can be won by unifying the struggles of all peoples.

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Photos by Leena Saleh


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