Rapper and spoken word poet Propaganda performs at UMD

Photo by Morgan Pint

Photo by Morgan Pint

On Thursday night In the dim Kirby Ballroom a mass of people with heads bobbing were crowded around the light. On the stage they watch as the rapper and spoken word poet known as Propaganda unloaded a nonstop nine minute rap. The speakers vibrated the floor with a west coast hip hop beat. He was sweating, his hair was flying around as he roamed the length of the stage handing out high fives. The crowd fed from his energy. He said something that resonated with racial injustice and the crowd collectivity “oohed” as they lifted their hands to the ceiling.

Photo by Morgan Pint

Photo by Morgan Pint

This was the scene on Nov. 8 when Christian hip hop artist and spoken word poet Jason Petty, aka Propaganda, performed at UMD.

UMD Cru initially reached out to Propaganda and partnered with many organizations, including Kirby Student Board, Black Student Association, Chi Alpha, Indian Student Association, Oromo Student Association, Intervarsity, and Black Campus Ministry.

Propaganda spoke on many issues. At times he spoke like an older sibling. He talked about being proud of who you are. “Why would I want to be the JV version of someone else when I can be the varsity me?” Propaganda asked.

Other times he talked about his relationship with his wife, his upbringing in Los Angeles, or called out mid westerners for being so passive aggressive.

A handful of his songs and poems were about societal issues.

“I think he's really good on relevant issues like racial injustice,” Cru member Danny Roach said.

Earlier in the day Cru held a tabling event asking “What do you think is the solution to racial injustice?”

Lydia Sayers and Danny Roach. Photo by Morgan Pint

Lydia Sayers and Danny Roach. Photo by Morgan Pint

“I think Propaganda is gonna bring that [question] out for a lot of people,” Roach said. “They’re going to be forced to answer that question and he’ll also help provide a solution.”

For persons of color, Propaganda is someone to be inspired by.

“As a woman of color [Propagandas] art inspires me and connects with me on his racial injustice stance,” spectator Azrin Awal said. “I think his form speaks directly out not just to people of color but to all Americans because he’s talking about working together for a common cause.”

Two attendants were seniors Megan Effinger and Josh Adamek.

“I really like it even though it's completely out of my comfort zone,” Effineger said. “I don't typically listen to rap and I don't like a large group of people but I felt it was worth it and I’m enjoying the raps.”

A favorite part for Effinger and Adamek was Propaganda speaking about finding beauty in yourself.

“His message was ‘your masterpieces is in your own right,’” Ademek said. “I think that part was cool.”

Taylor Grimsbro, a member of the Intervarsity Black Campus Ministry, was inspired when Propaganda told stories about going to Native American casinos early in his career.

“Hearing him talk about humans not owning the land, we only live on it and it’s a sacred gift.” Grimsbro said. “We are also from the dirt, so we are also sacred. I think that's a beautiful narrative especially coming from Propaganda.”

To learn more about Propaganda and track his touring dates, click here.

CultureJakob Bermas