The rapper Heems shared a letter announcing that he will play a show in Paris this evening despite the recent terrorist attacks in the city, which caused many musicians to cancel or postpone concerts. “The other night I sat at a bar at JFK airport and watched the Paris attacks play out on TV,” he writes. “I thought of watching 9/11 out of the window of my high-school classroom, and then having it play out on the TV, five seconds later. I thought of Bombay and the attack on multiple locations in my motherland. These were attacks on the cosmopolitan life I love and know.”
“They attacked a music venue,” he continues. “I feel... anger? I didn’t in 2001. I felt fed up—not at Islam, a religion I love and respect, but for those who claim ownership over the beauty of a tool/religion I and many love and respect.”
But Heems remains hopeful. “I believe in the power of music,” he explains. “In a terrible world, I think music is a tool no different from religion to get through difficult times… So tonight I rap in Paris because I believe in hopefulness and the light of peace. If I could do anything with my art, it would only be to say, ‘We’re just like you.’”
Read the full essay here, and revisit the MC’s FADER interview.