Himanshu Suri, the former member of rap group Das Racist who performs as Heems, has published an op-ed in Vice about his decision not to cancel his concert in Paris tonight as a reaction to the terrorist attacks that occurred in the city Friday.
“I believe in the power of music,” Suri wrote. “In a terrible world, I think music is a tool no different from religion to get through difficult times. Perhaps this time I took the attack more personally. So tonight I rap in Paris because I believe in hopefulness and the light of peace.”
Suri’s rapping, both in Das Racist and in his solo work, has often addressed his experience as an American man of Indian descent who identifies as Hindu, Sikh, and Sufi. Eat Pray Thug, his studio album from earlier this year, continued to focus on the topic.
“In 2001, I attended high school near the Twin Towers,” Suri explained in the Vice op-ed. “Immediately, I felt like a victim of the events and of its racial repercussions. I saw how it affected Muslims, and have seen how it has affected my Muslim friends. I myself get ‘randomly’ search pretty often at airports.”
Suri added that his mother discouraged him from helping after 9/11 because “she was worried about the backlash against Middle Easterners and South Asians,” and sent him “an email in a familiar tone” urging him not to go to Paris in the wake of the terrorist attacks that rocked the city on Friday.
“Cities live and breath and survive and move on, just like people,” Suri wrote. “If I can help the healing process in any tiny way with my songs, words, sounds, then I’m a lucky man.”
Head over to Vice to read Heems’ full op-ed.