Coordinated by EU40 and MTV Voices, "Battle for Your Vote" teamed up eight MEPs with four rappers going head-to-head on topics surrounding the European elections. As yours truly was dominating the live twitter board, the electoral candidates, in a seemingly never-ending attempt to connect with the youth,were trying to communicate with us aliens through “our language” - apparentlyurban rhythm and beats. European swag, you say? I guess so….
Audience members chose the topics and after a quick huddle the teams went to war, battling over Europe's borders, future innovation and technology and of course youth unemployment. Keeping with rap tradition, the winners and losers of each round were determined by the amount of noise the audience made. And boy, were you guys rowdy!
It was clear early on that the crowd was not overly impressed by European People's Party MEP Sebastien Valentin Bolu's desperate shout out; "Vote for EPP if you want money!" As boos began to fill the battle room, MC Ryan Miller tried to regain order, begging for "A little respect". But it was too late for EPP. The Green Party's rapper Mos Prob picked up on the crowd's anger and used it to his advantage, slamming EPP for being shallow and assuming the voters were only interested in materialism. 'Honest work will come to us if we can extend love to other ones', he preached. Despite EPP’s rapper DeKay's best efforts, the fight was over...
"Where is the whistle blower?? He is in Brussels," yelled Ismail Ertug from the Socialists and Democrats, blowing into his own whistle loudly as his group's rapper Mils prepared to take on LeeN, representing the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. Despite kiss tattoos on his neck suggesting serious womanizer skills, Mils wasn’t able to woo the crowd; instead he continuously strayed away from the topics at hand. LeeN, looking fly in his suit and tie, made it look all too easy as he (w)rapped up his opponent like a fresh blunt. Literally. “You’re trying to make some kind of point, I'm going to roll you up and smoke you like a joint”!
As LeeN and Mos Prob went head to head in a dramatic showdown accompanied by ALDE’s MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis’ ferocious dance moves, a topic close to all of our hearts was finally debated: youth unemployment. Mos Prob’s line comparing internships to sinking ships stirred quite the reaction among those unpaid interns desperately trying to enhance their professional experience while living below the poverty line. LeeN attacked the banks, our most popular scapegoats: “Tell the banks don’t let us borrow...They took our money and I really want it back !”, thus making the Liberals the ultimate victors and champions of electoral rap. "Maybe next time, they'll let the MEPs do the rapping!" joked Ska Keller for the Greens. Eh….. Maybe not.
Because as much fun as this event was, it did feel like it was preaching to the choir. Surely the battle should have been held where the young people are not voting- on the streets of Greece, Germany or Italy for example? Rather than in the European Parliament- where let’s face it, if you’re not a voter, you’re in a tiny minority. If the whole point of such a rap battle was to win over the sceptical young voters who feel European politics is irrelevant then, in holding it at the epicentre of the Eurobubble, the organisers themselves lost the battle before it began.
Gladys Vercammen-Grandjean is currently an intern in the United Nations Regional Information Cernter (UNRIC).
Catherine Collins is currently a trainee in the European Parliament.