Rappin' Radical

Grime is the unholy terror of the Valley's hip-hop scene

"That song changed my perspective," Grime says. "It showed me the power hip-hop had to convey a message, and it made it cool to me to study and get in-depth and shit. It changed my view on what hip-hop could do and what it could be used for. Before, I was having fun with it; after that, it showed me I could integrate an interest in politics and history with my interest in hip-hop. That song sparked so much shit for me, it made me want to delve deeper into history, into politics, actually start having debates and arguments with what my dad was talking about. I wanted to learn. I also wanted to use hip-hop to convey what I learned. It was a monumental time in my life."

"No bombs, no wars, justice — democracy/No slums, no bums, no one in poverty/No more hypocrisy, Third World equality/Another world is possible, follow me/Everyone on Earth and I'm prepared for death, send me to the cemetery/One goal: freedom by any means necessary."

— "Holding Hands"

Tariq Rahman attempted to embrace Islam once again when he was a freshman in high school, and put extensive effort into being devout. Still, he didn't feel the presence of God. "I still thought it was important," he says. "I read all kinds of different books, I took classes in college — world religion courses, philosophy courses. I made a strong effort to find God and I never did.

"I couldn't lie to myself. I read a lot, I read about Jews, Catholicism, Islam, agnosticism, Buddhism, Confucianism, all of it. None of it fit who I was. If there's any one religion I feel is ideal, that I understood, it's Buddhism. But I don't believe in reincarnation, dog. I'm a very logical person; I don't believe in reincarnation, I also don't believe in half-assing things, I don't believe in karma, man. There's a lot of evil motherfuckers that are doing really well right now. How could karma exist? I just consider myself agnostic."

After high school, Tariq spent a couple semesters at Glendale Community College before heading to Tucson and the University of Arizona to study political science.

"When I went to Tucson, I was looking for like-minded people," Tariq says. "I heard it was a lot more to the left than ASU [turned out to be]. When I first went to Tucson, I went to school full-time, and worked full-time. I had no time for shit. No time for girls, no time for music, no time for nothing. Plus when I moved out there, I wasn't even listening to hip-hop. I was so frustrated and tired with hip-hop, I dropped that shit. I was listening to a lot of Rage [Against the Machine], System [of a Down], '60s folk music, Woody Guthrie . . . I was tired, disgusted, and sick of hip-hop."

After six months of the full-time grind, Tariq was disgusted with that, too. "That's not the way human beings should live. I had no friends, no life out of work and school. Theoretically, I was successful; I did good at school and work, but I wasn't a happy person."

Around January of 2004, Tariq dropped his work schedule to half its usual load, so that he would have the time to be politically active before the presidential election in November. "I decided I wanted to be an activist," he says. "It was a very political environment, lots of insane shit going on. Iraq was invaded, Afghanistan was invaded, we had the Patriot Act forced through Congress. The environment was chaotic. I decided that given my interest in politics and my passion for change, I wanted to test my abilities to create something and do something and actually build something and progress with something."

He began exploring the political clubs present on campus, and eventually became affiliated with Refuse & Resist, an organization that doesn't endorse political candidates but opposes censorship, war, and police brutality.

"I worked my way up with that club very quickly. I was a very active member; I felt it was important to have a presence on campus. I would be out tabling every day, handing out fliers, talking to people, selling buttons and tee shirts. I thought I was making a significant change. All the time I had devoted to work, I devoted to activism. I was watching a lot of things happen and felt powerless to change them. I wanted to give myself a bit of power, a bit of influence, so I dove into that."

Just before the election in '04, Tariq became disillusioned with Refuse & Resist.

After leaving the group, Tariq threw himself into campaigning for John Kerry. "I had a bumper sticker on my car that said 'Anybody but Bush 2004,'" he says. "It wasn't like I thought Kerry would clean up American politics, but there are some things where Democrats have proven themselves to be better. At the least, the base the Democratic Party has to pretend to be loyal to is the lower working class. At some point in their policy-making, they have to throw the motherfuckers a bone once in a while. It's better than the Republican Party throwing a bone to corporate interests or to theocrats. It does make a difference in some places." Not sleeping, and growing a beard that would befit an imam while he lived the lifestyle of an ascetic, he exhausted himself in what would be a futile effort.

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