Courtesy of A Beautiful Perspective

Emerge Festival 2019: 9 Powerful Anthems From the Lineup

March 4, 2019

Emerge returns to Las Vegas for its second year. The two-day festival, which will be held May 31-June 1 at Hard Rock Hotel, celebrates the union of music and social impact.

Rather than stack a festival bill with familiar Top 40 acts, Emerge takes a more thoughtful approach. This year, it pairs outspoken musicians like veteran rapper Talib Kweli and transgender punk icon Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! with rising talents such as riot grrrl outfit Cherry Glazerr and masked rapper Leikeli47, along with activists such as Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg and journalist and immigration rights champion Jose Antonio Vargas. The musical showcases and events will focus on themes of Protest, Self, Brave and Sex.

“Every time emerging music spiked in popularity, it was tied to social unrest,” Emerge founder Rehan Choudhry said in a release. “Think about the explosion of rock and songwriters like Dylan and Joplin in the ’60s, the rapid development of hip hop in ’80s when city communities faced crises. This is the best time ever, now; the social movements suggest it.”

In the spirit of the festival, we highlight nine powerful songs from artists on the Emerge lineup — songs that protest war, empower women and, in the case of Big Freedia’s bouncy jams, liberate us through carefree expression.


Courtesy of A Beautiful Perspective

Talib Kweli — “All of Us” (featuring Jay Electronica)

Jay-Z once famously rapped on The Black Album that “If skills sold, truth be told, I'd probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli.” While Mr. Carter, by his own admission, dumbed down his content to double his dollars, Kweli has tenaciously fought the good fight. Since breaking out with Mos Def as fabled duo Black Star, Talib’s continued to drop gems that touch on topics of inequality and mass incarceration. In 2017, on his eighth studio album Radio Silence, Kweli used his platform to tackle police brutality with “All of Us.”


Courtesy of A Beautiful Perspective

Andrew Bird — “Bloodless”

Dylan’s influence runs deep in indie singer-songwriter Andrew Bird. He’s crafted countless beautiful and powerful songs over the years (and blessed us with a few Dylan covers). None are more poignant today than “Bloodless,” which aims to unite us in our politically divisive era, equating our current climate to an “uncivil war.” In a note left on the music video’s YouTube page, he writes: “We can turn this ship around but need to step back and be honest with ourselves about what’s happening while it’s still relatively bloodless.”


Courtesy of A Beautiful Perspective

Ana Tijoux — “Antipatriarca”

French-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux is one of the most prominent and fiercest voices in Latin American music. It’s fitting, considering her parents were forced into political exile during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile. One of her most powerful anthems comes in the form of “Antipatriarca,” a blistering call for women’s rights. She raps in Spanish: Tu no me vas a humillar, tu no me vas a gritar / Tu no me vas someter tu no me vas a golpear / Tu no me vas denigrar, tu no me vas obligar / Tu no me vas a silenciar tu no me vas a callar (“You will not humiliate me / You will not scream at me / You will not subject me / You will not beat me / You will not denigrate me / You will not force me / You’re not going to silence me, you’re not going to shut me up,” in English).


Courtesy of A Beautiful Perspective

Dessa — “The Bullpen”

As Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s face fades out in the official trailer of Oscar-nominated documentary RBG, horns shriek and a woman’s voice commands: Forget the bull in the china shop / there’s a china doll in the bullpen — a fitting line for the Supreme Court Justice. That voice, from the song “The Bullpen,” belongs to prolific Minnesota rapper, singer, poet, and author Dessa. (“The Bullpen” was also used as entrance music when Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s announced her presidential bid). While she’s no newcomer — she been making music with her crew, Doomtree, since the mid-2000s — Dessa’s been criminally underrated, despite her accolades. Her latest release, 2018’s Chime, was named one of NPR’s Favorite Albums of 2018. Emerge will offer Las Vegans an opportunity to find out why firsthand.


Courtesy of A Beautiful Perspective

Bedouine — “Summer Cold”

While it shimmers in a glorious retro glow, Bedouine’s “Summer Cold” is chilling. The song, penned by Syrian-born lead singer Azniv Korkejian after learning that American weapons were used by Syrian terrorists, is a stirring plea to end violence. “I've had enough of your guns and your ammunition,” she sings hauntingly.


Courtesy of A Beautiful Perspective

Laura Jane Grace — “True Trans Soul Rebel”

Laura Jane Grace, founder of Florida punk outfit Against Me!, has been one of the leading voices in the fight for transgender rights. The band dedicated an entire album to it in 2014 with Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Among the much-needed songs is “True Trans Soul Rebel,” which speaks directly to transgender people fighting bigotry and discrimination. Who’s gonna take you home tonight? Who’s gonna take you home? Does God bless your transsexual heart?, Grace sings on the chorus.


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Leikeli47 — “No Reload”

Ski-masked rap rebel Leikeli47 is one of the genre’s best-kept secrets, dropping some of the heaviest and braggiest bangers in “Miss Me” and “Money.” While her identity is anonymous, what she represents is clear — uplifting and empowering women. On “No Reload,” she flames the male ego and lets it be known she can do it all on her own, rapping: Grew up in a house full of women, they ain't need no n---- / Never seen ’em borrow s---, they had they own figures.


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Nahko — “My Country” (with Nahko and Medicine for the People)

For more than a decade, Nahko Bear, who fronts alternative world music band Nahko and Medicine for the People, has made soul-healing music shaped by his life experiences and travels across the U.S. While many of his songs are hopeful and uplifting, the artist, who’s of Apache, Puerto Rican and Filipino descent, also takes on heavier topics. His take on the American classic “My Country Tis of Thee” paints a current-day picture of where we are as a nation: My country 'tis of thee / Sweet land of poverty / For thee I weep.


Courtesy of A Beautiful Perspective

Big Freedia — “Explode”

If there was ever a spokesperson for being who you are, it’s Big Freedia. The genderfluid self-proclaimed “Queen Diva” doesn’t give a damn about conformity and twerks to the beat of her own drum. She commands crowds to shake, pop, and wobble in her boisterous “bounce” cuts — a hyper-energetic genre of hip-hop from New Orleans that Freedia helped propel to the national stage. Songs like “Explode” are powerful for their ability to liberate us from our inhibitions or, as Freedia says, “release your wiggle, release your anger, release your mind, release your job.”