Soundstrike Rages Against Arizona

A coalition of big name performers won't play in Arizona until the state repeals SB 1070.

By Naima Ramos-Chapman Jul 26, 2010

Music, has often lent itself to the anti-establishment and protest themes of the moment. There’s the somber like Sam Cooke’s "A Change Is Gonna Come," the damning like Michael Jackson’s "They Don’t Care About Us," or the combative like Public Enemy’s…well any song really. We don’t yet have a popular protest song for the immigrant rights movement. But as Arizona prepares for its controversial anti-immigration law to kick in on Thursday, musical talents from across genres have banded together behind Soundstrike, a coalition of artists who have chosen to boycott Arizona until it repeals SB1070.

Last Friday, Rage Against The Machine, which is spearheading the boycott, threw a benefit concert at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. The show raised $300,000 that will go to organizations fighting the bill, which makes it a crime to be in Arizona without immigration papers and empowers cops to stop and search anyone they suspect of doing so. 

"SB 1070 if enacted would legalize racial profiling in Arizona. This law runs counter to music’s essential purpose, which is to unite people and not divide them. We want to thank the artists of conscience that have joined the Soundstrike throughout the world who use their role as artists to stand for civil and human rights," said band leader Zach de la Rocha in a press conference last week.

According to an AP article, other artists who have joined the battalion of bands boycotting Arizona are Kanye West, Sonic Youth, Cypress Hill, Tenacious D, Spank Rock, Massive Attack, Norteno superstars Los Tigres del Norte, Colombian rock singer Juanes, salsa-ska band Ozomatli, and Puerto Rican reggaeton duo Calle 13.

Others who have expressed their discontent with SB1070 but have not formally signed up with Soundstrike are Talib Kweli and Shakira, among others.

In light of some arguments that an artist boycott will only hurt the local concert venues, promoters, and fans, some artists–includingTalib Kweli–have chose to perform in Arizona but not without making their position on the anti-immigration law heard. Kweli kept two performance dates this spring with hopes his song "Paper’s Please", about SB 1070, would become a movement anthem.

As outspoken as Lady Gaga has been in her (very recent) past about civil rights for the LBGT community, she hasn’t yet canceled her concert scheduled in Phoenix on July 31, just three days after SB 1070 goes into effect. Fans of Lady Gaga are pleading via Facebook for Gaga to join the boycott and show her support for another marginalized group.  

Arizona’s SB 1070 is expected to go into effect this Thursday, July 29. As Julianne Hing reports, litigation over SB 1070 will probably be long and drawn out, with the bill being bounced court to court.

For a full listing of artists boycotting Arizona under the Soundsrike banner click here.