Ten musicians who have taken a political stand

Categories: Commentary, Lists


It's one thing to be a political musician, to point out the inherent wrongs of our social and political constructs from afar. Admirable as that is, it takes a truly special person to take a personal stake in perceived injustice and do something that goes beyond music.

A couple days ago, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) put his body, mind and dignity on the line when he volunteered with the human rights group Reprieve to be force-fed, as many Guantanamo Bay detainees are, on camera, to raise awareness.

Visibly shaken, Bey couldn't go all the way through with it, but even in failing, he succeeded in making his point. Here are ten other musicians who went above and beyond the music to make a statement.

See also:
- Top five failed attempts by musicians to run for political office
- Peaches on taking action on behalf of Pussy Riot
- Review: Brother Ali at Cervantes', 2/2/13

10. Wyclef Returns Home
Wyclef Jean has long been actively involved in supporting Haiti. It is, after all, where he was born. But he took that commitment to a new level after the tragic earthquake that Haiti endured in 2010 when he decided that he would run for president of his homeland. Despite much speculation by Haitians and Americans alike that Jean wasn't suited for the job, he seemed sincere. When his bid was rejected by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council, he withdrew gracefully.

9. John and Yoko Stay In
After John Lennon and Yoko Ono got married, following in Ono's tradition of performance art, the two spent their honeymoon in an Amsterdam hotel in bed, but not doing what you might expect. The two invited the press into their room for twelve hours each day and hosted a bed-in for peace. Signs above their bed read "Hair Peace" and "Bed Peace." Said Ono, "It's part of our policy not to be taken seriously. Our opposition, whoever they may be, in all manifest forms, don't know how to handle humor. And we are humorous." Apparently, Lennon and Ono were satisfied with their initial bed-in, because they did another one just a couple months later in Montreal.

8. Brother Ali Occupies Homes
Brother Ali is kind of like a brother to all, which is why he volunteered to help impede officials in evicting the Cruz family, a family that he didn't even know, earlier this year. Occupy Homes MN is a Minnesota initiative designed to defend against wrongful evictions and foreclosures. Ali has long been a unique part of rap culture, and now, in a genre known for its problems with the law, he has set himself apart as one of the few willing to get arrested for the right reasons.

7. Jello Biafra Goes Green
Jello Biafra, never one to make the "safe" choice, after a failed bid for mayor of San Francisco, decided to put in his bid for the Green Party candidacy for President of the United States with famed lifetime prison inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose trial's impartiality has been questioned by numerous human-rights activist organizations. Biafra won only ten of the party's 319 delegate votes, which was good enough for second place to Ralph Nader.

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Matt Mega C
Matt Mega C

I totally hated Minor Threat and Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys and their political stuff. Wait, no I didn't.

Joseph Chek
Joseph Chek

much like the freedoms of expression and speech, we all have the freedom to not listen

Dave Hankins
Dave Hankins

I'm for the ironic stand of STFU and sing.

Pat Angello
Pat Angello

If they can present an educated opinion, sure. Then there's Dave Mustaine.

Blayne McMillan
Blayne McMillan

Music unites, politics divides. I'd rather that they were left separate.

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