Julian Assange has become an unlikely inspiration for rap artists across the globe, most famously Sri Lanka’s M.I.A. and Puerto Rico’s Calle 13. Now, thanks to the latter and Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, Assange is a bona fide rapper.
Assange teamed up with the rap ensemble Calle 13 and guitarist Morello for a track called “Multi_Viral,” rapped in three languages (English, Spanish, and Arabic) and calling for a revolution of sorts against the world establishment.
He declares in one line that “misreported news is armed assault” and asserts that “if the press doesn’t talk, we will provide the details by painting walls with aerosol in the streets.” Calle 13 also veers into some opposition to “processed meat” and pseudo-conspiracy about drugs and nutrition (“they make you sick just to sell you medicine”).
Then there is Assange’s rap bridge:
We live in the world that your propaganda made
But where you think you are strong you are weak
Your lies tell us the truth we will use against you
Your secrecy shows us where we will strike
Your weapons reveal your fear for all to see
From Cairo to Quito a new world is forming
The power of people armed with the truth”
The accompanying music video, which dropped this week, has proven even more controversial than the song which has been circulating since November. It depicts a young Palestinian boy on his way to school confronting armed Israeli guards and joining up with a friend to find the various pieces of an AK-47. He spray paints walls with Arabic as the song instructs him to do. As he and his friend toil putting the pieces together, Assange begins to rap, and it is revealed the children had just constructed a guitar out of the weapon. Cue Morello guitar solo:
René Pérez, the rapper behind Calle 13, explained to an Argentine cable network that the group chose Palestine as a backdrop because it is “one of the countries which most suffers from media manipulation. What happens there arrives in America completely manipulated, and the information that people receive [in America] is another.” Pérez has previously compared Puerto Rico to Palestine, calling them both “colonies.”
According to Al-Jazeera, some fans of Calle 13 are outraged and disappointed at their star for collaborating on a pro-Palestinian music video with Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and the Wikileaks leader. They are even more concerned about the child in the video, accusing the song’s authors of “glorifying terrorism” and depicting “children as terrorists.”
“I think that there should be a message of peace, of calm, without falling on one’s knees,” Pérez explained in a previous interview, arguing the video is “pacifist.”