Arts & Culture

Ezra Bebop Gives Life to a Dying World

Taiwana Shambley, A&E Editor

Our world is a weird, smoldering place. Or, as Ezra Bebop describes it, is getting more “blantly hairy,”. We are seated next to the fishbowl in the hidden section of Einstein Bros., the back of the back, casually discussing Vince Staples’ take on the National Anthem (it doesn’t slap) and young people’s futures.

“The next decade or two is going to be weird,” he says, rummaging through his thoughts. “That’s always a thing in the back of my head, how strange I think things are going to escalate here. Cause we’re on some weird stuff. Politically, world-wide… the Earth is dying.”

Ezra Bebop is a third-year Creative Writing major from the Powderhorn neighborhood in Minneapolis. His first traceable step into the arts was in high school when his school presented a play he wrote: an adaptation of Aladdin that was set in the 90’s and had “very hardcore political undertones.” Some years and countless photo, video and film shoots later, Ezra is one of the most innovative minds on our campus. The cover art of his upcoming project Dork, his first and last solo album, features a grim, stone-faced Ezra glaring into a bathroom mirror with a half-shaven head. “I just looked too chaotic,” he said. “I can’t not take a picture of myself right now.”

But Ezra is not just a filmmaker or photographer. He is a fiction writer, poet, DJ and producer. He prefers that you wonder which medium it is he is most comfortable with. “When someone thinks of my name, I want them to go what does he do again? Does he make film? Does he do photography? Does he write? Is he a DJ? What’s he doing? ” He nods to Childish Gambino for sparking his “outside-the-box” approach to art. “I’m just going to do all of them. I’m not going to hold myself to photography, film, writing; I’m going to do everything that I possibly can.”

Ezra shared that Malcolm X was an inspiration to him growing up. As a Black artist, Ezra had a lot of repressed anger that he didn’t know what to do with. “Black anger is a complicated concept for me because I feel like through my childhood I was being reinforced to be borderline passive in my oppression… When I’m making art, I’m thinking of myself and other people of color… I’m never going to try to hold a part of myself back. And Malcolm X feels the same way; I’m going to be me no matter what and there are consequences, but I’m ready.”
I ask Ezra if there’s anything else he wants people to know about him as an artist. “When I was a little kid,” he starts, “there was a lack of really present queer artists. I think it’d be great if there was more. Anybody who’s into anything… keep going and you’ll be a role model for somebody. Everyone needs someone to look up to”

“It’s tough out here and as the world gets more and more hairy– more blatantly hairy– I think we need more art that can open people’s eyes to that… part of me feels like I can’t keep thinking about my future as this narrow thing,” he says. “Like, ‘Oh, I’m going to graduate college then get a job in the field that I want.’ Am I? Are people going to be able to eat in five years? Is half the world just going to be on fire? Those are all pressing questions that I think are on everyone’s mind, young people especially.”

This article was originally published in the September 20, 2019 issue.