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About me

I'm a lawyer, singer, songwriter, rapper, grassroots organizer, independent columnist, non-profit leader, direct actionista, dancer, and poet based in Washington, DC.  I've been kicking rhymes, building communities, and fighting the Man for roughly 20 years, mostly in Chicago, the SF Bay Area, and Washington DC.

My blood's from Pakistan. My family immigrated from England in the 1970s to rural Missouri, before I graduated at 16 from a suburban high school outside St. Louis and then spent 10 years and 3 careers completing college in Chicago.

Law school at Stanford introduced me to the San Francisco Bay Area that I quickly adopted as my vibrational home, to which I hope to return someday. Since graduating in 2003, I've spent most of my time in the nation's capital, organizing grassroots resistance to the national security state, while serving as an impact litigator, communications director, movement strategist, and national non-profit leader.

All the while, I've also actively organized performance artists to perform in public, politicized, outdoor "lyrical ambushes." After co-founding the Stanford Spoken Word Collective in 2002, I joined three other poets in SF in July 2003 to launch the 16th & Mission Collaborative Arts Insurgency--which has held an outdoor open mic every week for over a decade, encompassing thousands of participants. After visiting Black Rock City and witnessing Burning Man for the first time later that summer, we founded the DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency within weeks of me moving to Washington that fall, and have been rocking it proper ever since. 

I've been occassionally profiled by other writers:

  • The Jackson Free Press in Jackson, MS published a profile on March 11, 2010 emphasizing my roots in the midwest and how my time there influenced me.
  • People's District posted a profile on March 27, 2010 noting my reflections on guerrilla poetry and activism, along with a video of an outdoor serenade in Dupont Circle.
  • Mishthi Music posted a profile in August, 2013 following my inclusion on the Beats for Bangladesh benefit compilation. 

These days, I'm blessed, though occassionally hazed
by the edutainment inspiration wave.
I'm still hoping that I won't grow crazed,
as the Universe continually keeps me amazed....

My highlights are memorable and relatively random. I've: 

  • sued the FBI in 2008 and won,
  • rocked rhymes for crowds as large as 30,000, and warmed up audiences for artists including Boots Riley from the Coup and Thievery Corporation,
  • confronted overzealous police in most regions of the country, since 2002,
  • drafted testimony and proposed legislation for Congress in 2008,
  • briefed members of Congress at their invitation on policy issues including surveillance and detention,
  • traveled to my native country to investigate the imposition of martial law in 2007 with the Bush administration's support,
  • released my first album, Get Outta Your Chair, in 2008,
  • founded multiple communities of politically conscious artists, including the Stanford Spoken Word Collective, the 16th & Mission Collaborative Arts Insurgency in SF, and the DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency,
  • spoken at dozens of law schools and colleges, including the law school of the college that (even with the maximum available in federal student financial aid) I couldn't afford to complete in the 1990s,
  • learned enough to know how little any of us actually know, despite our various pretensions.

I'm always eager to share my analysis of law & policy issues, music, and poetry. Below is a quick recap of what you can find on this site, or you can just check out what's new for the latest. Holler at me, follow me on Twitter, and please feel free to explore:

Serendipity flows freely in my life, and I'm always down to pursue opportunities to further expand the circle and share thoughts with others.  If you're inclined to invite me to speak or perform at an event, please drop me a line!

My debut CD, Get Outta Your Chair, includes socially conscious and personally reflective rhymes over funk, house, R&B, traditional hip-hop and soul tracks from a variety of producers including Thunderball, Starpeople and Bomani Armah.

SHAHID BUTTAR: Get Outta Your Chair

Here are some random videos to whet your whistle:

I kicked a few rhymes to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. on the holiday named in his memory, at the headquarters of his principal institutional antagonist, the FBI:

Bumpin in My SUV is Track 1 on Get Outta Your Chair:

FYI -- All content on this site is freely licensed under a Creative Commons License.
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