Otep: A Voice of Modern Revolution

 Revolution universally begins with an idea of something different and a seething desire to manifest that significant change. Human history is a compilation of hundreds of revolutions. Reformation is as much a part of humanity as life itself; and the constant embedment of revolutionary movements are coaxed and aroused through the music of the time period. That is, music is a reflective catalyst for social, political, or simply ideal reformations. The mass encompassing lyrical capabilities of the modern musician and poet Otep Shamaya gives way to cataclysmic thoughts and incites multiple revolutions. Her mysterious life is veiled through cryptic yet personal lyrics dealing with all things from political activism to molestation. Otep is becoming an integral gear of social opinion; she interjects her influences into multiple mediums.

“And I remember him fucking me, and I remember liking it. I didn’t know any better,” these are the painful words of a woman molested, ideally confused due to a childhood ripe with domestic violence. This is the opening line of the song “Jonestown Tea,” Otep Shamaya’s tell all and self- empowering attack against the dark world of child molestation. This song maps Otep’s turbulent relationship with her father that, quite naturally, parallels the lives of many people. The phenomenological response of the listeners is usually intense because of the extreme nature of the song. Culturally, molestation is hidden and something that its victims are usually inclined to be ashamed of; Otep is challenging that idea. On a Headbangers Blog she said, “Writing “Jonestown Tea” was both cathartic and resurrectional for me. I needed to write a song that spoke for those that believe they have no voice but also to empower my own spirit to defeat the demons of doubt.” This song is reforming how many victims of molestation deal with the effects of being abused. It empowers them to achieve what they can in spite their circumstances.

Otep’s primary medium of heavy metal music draws, quite naturally, many scarred individuals. Considering that the music is indicative of lives emotional, ideal, and domestic issues, Oteps purpose, apparently, is to rally hundreds of thousands of individuals to focus upon and perpetuate or eradicate an idea. These faithful fans are called “Shadow Soldiers.” On Urban dictionary. Com a “Shadow Soldier” is defined as “a fan of Otep, carrier of the plague. We are the arms and legs of the revolution...privy to all things Otep. We are a vocal, intelligent faction: each of us have experienced the struggle in some form-physically, emotionally, mentally. We are philosophers, scholars, artists and artisans...destroying to create.” Otep is using the influence she has over these people to bring about positivity. On Carbon Rally.com people are challenged to “go green” and calculate their “carbon footprint;” and to do what is necessary to minimize ones emissions as much as possible. Otep formed a group on the environmentally concerned website and petitioned her Shadow Soldiers to join, and within 48 hours her group grew to over 200 members- the largest in the website’s history. On October 29, 2008 the group had grown to harbor 881 active members and collectively had reduced approximately 66.72 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Through her epic music, Otep develops multiple philosophies. These ideas are develop through Oteps extreme literacy. Her influences are among great thinker such as Karl Marx, and Frederick Nietzsche. The first and most popular is “Sevas Tra,” which means “Art Saves.” The word “art” carries multiple levels of importance and meaning to Otep and her followers. Otep says, concerning the notion that art is lost in the music, “I don't think the essence of the poetry is lost [in our delivery]; the 'Art of War' teaches you to destroy your enemy from within. We give them something no one else can, and that's something intellectual, poetic, a real thing that is also brutally savage. Our message is being communicated because the music is so powerful.”

More recently, there’s the self-accepting philosophy established by the song “Perfectly Flawed.” This song has a message the teaches it’s listeners to accept themselves as imperfect beings. The song proclaims that “Your perfectly flawed; imperfections make you unique.” Revolving how people look at themselves through the aesthetic culture that we presently subscribe to, Otep has started a social movement she is calling the “All Shapes and Sizes Campaign.” It’s amazing the way people respond to this message; it liberates them and encourages them to create or help create.

Politically, it would seem that Otep is a socialist; however, actually pegging her in a particular “category” is complicated. But she is having an extremely elevated impact on the current presidential elections. Much of her music is politically charged, in particular the songs “Warhead” and “Confrontation,” both about the inaccuracies and failures of the Bush Administration. “Warhead” served more as a prediction of the trials to come when President Bush was elected, while “Confrontation” is more of a “told you so rant.” On the official MySpace page, Otep post numerous videos partitioning the “Shadow Soldiers” to voice their opinion, and influence the future of the United States.

Popular culture is not socially prepared to fully accept and amplify the concepts that Otep proclaims- especially on a musical level. Comparisons can be drawn from major movements throughout history. For instance, the social movement that started with the Stonewall Riots in the sixties- Gay pride. Mirroring this movement dedicated to self-acceptance and political equality, Otep’s regime is a chiasmic assault on ideas and long held taboos; and as apparent from the legacies of great revolutionist such as Emiliano Zapata, and Martin Luther King, one will be challenged, or even killed, but the ideas will live on.

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