Economist Sen’s Son Raps About Injustice

Kabir Sen to release third album April 25

Harvard professor Amartya Sen may have won a Nobel Prize for his work in welfare economics, but his son addresses the issue of social injustice in a different manner—he raps about it.

Kabir Sen, a Wesleyan University graduate and son of Lamont University Professor Sen, will release his third album, “Peaceful Solutions,” on April 25.

According to the rapper’s manager, Howard Turkenkopf, Kabir’s first two albums were well received.

“His stuff has a lot more in terms of intelligence and a sort of literary feel to it,” Turkenkopf said. “It is more poetic in nature compared to a lot of hip-hop stuff.”

Turkenkopf said that although many young hip-hop artists address issues of social injustice, few share Kabir’s background.

“He may not have [grown] up in the inner city, [or have a] going-to-a-public-school perspective, so he addresses issues from a unique position,” he said.

Sen said his son started his career playing classical music on his recorder. And the rapper, who is half-Italian, has experimented with classical South Indian music, jazz, blues, and eventually hip-hop, he added.

“Quite a lot of migration—but I like that,” Sen said. “I have always moved my area of work from one field to another.”

Kabir ultimately chose hip-hop because it allowed him to combine elements of a variety of musical genres, he added.

“I moved into hip-hop because I could include elements of Indian music, jazz, rock, funk, soul, R&B;, or any other style that worked for the song I was writing at that time,” Kabir said.

Kabir said that hip-hop is a perfect tool for political commentary.

“I’m interested in the revolutionary potential of hip-hop,” he said.

In 1999, his senior-year honors thesis at Wesleyan explored the revolutionary lyrics of various hip-hop artists throughout history.

He said his music usually “reveals points of view about issues that people have not necessarily heard in a song before,” and that his latest project focuses on self-discovery and rechanneling negative energy.

“I was definitely intrigued by the power of music at a young age,” he said. “For example, when listening to U2 as a kid, I noticed that some of those songs addressed apartheid in South Africa or the IRA.”

Sen said the family has a long history of striving for social justice.

“Kabir has inherited it,” he added.

Kabir’s grandfather was a member of the Italian resistance during the Second World War and was shot by members of the Fascist Party while working in the office of a resistance newspaper, according to Sen.

As for his son’s musical ability, Sen said, “He gets it from his mother.”