Born in Flames Tour Comes to Columbia: Jean Grae, Tamar-Kali, Invincible

By Olivia Goldman
Last Friday in Lerner, the Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine hosted the Born in Flames tour in Roone Aldredge Auditorium for Israeli Apartheid Week. Although attendance was lacking, artists Jean Grae, Tamar-Kali, and Invincible put on a good performance.
While none of the three female performers have found considerable traction among the mainstream, by no means does this indicate that they are not well-established musicians. With prominent presences in underground music scenes, each holds strongly to their particular ideals and principles through their music. You may not find them on the radio anytime soon, but their music harbors the potential for a strong personal connection.
Detroit rapper Invincible opened up the night. The sound system in Roone wasn’t doing her any favors: while her flow was good, her lyrics were difficult to understand. With a reputation for social activism, Invincible stuck to the theme of the event and spoke in favor of liberation of Palestine.
Jean Grae

Tamar-Kali, an afro-punk and “hard-core soul” artist native to Brooklyn, brought the vocal skill and the stage presence to match the loaded names of her genre. The repetitive electric guitar progressions and strong 2-beat feel of the drum rhythms prompted the audience to go from the nodding and hand-waving associated with hip-hop to straight-up head-banging. Tamar-Kali started off by accompanying her band members on the guitar for as an instrumental transition before unveiling her soulful and technically impressive vocals. While a standard rock set of guitar, bass and drums accompanied her last Friday, Tamar-Kali also performs her original songs accompanied by a chamber ensemble called Psychochamber. During her last song, she invited a member of the audience onstage and challenged her to “do the running man in 6/8.”

Jean Grae (her stage name, a reference to the X-men character, was one of the concepts behind of the name of the tour) headlined the event, and demonstrated herself as a charismatic and seasoned performer and was able to use the intimate audience to her advantage. Grae’s lyrics were inspirational and intelligent, encouraging the members of the audience overcome whatever obstacles they need to become great, regardless of how society may view those choices.
Olivia Goldman is a sophomore at Barnard and Senior Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Hip Hop Galaxy.

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