Bellerose artist to rhyme at SEVA event

The Queens group SEVA, which is now focusing on raising awareness of the impact of redistricting, was involved in the Richmond Hill 2010 Census Committee.
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A South Asian rapper who grew up in Bellerose is using his name to promote a borough group’s effort to highlight the importance of the upcoming state redistricting battle.

Himanshu “Heems” Suri of the hip-hop group Das Racist is unveiling his new mixtape for free at an event sponsored by the Richmond Hill-based nonprofit SEVA at Villa Russo Monday.

Ali Najmi, a community activist with SEVA and a childhood friend of Suri, said Suri will be performing at the event and the group hopes the young rapper’s presence will raise awareness of the redrawing of state political lines later this year.

“That’s the whole point and to bring everyone who’s not as conscious on it into it,” Najmi said.

Suri, who grew up in Bellerose, could not be reached for comment.

Das Racist released two mixtapes, or unofficial albums, in 2010: “Sit Down, Man” and “Shut Up, Dude.”

SEVA is active in both Richmond Hill and Bellerose and is a group comprised of South Asian and West Indian residents.

Because Richmond Hill and Ozone Park are currently represented by a handful of elected officials, Najmi said SEVA identified census tracts that the group believes “needs to be united.”

SEVA is also part of Eastern Queens United, a conglomeration of civic groups that want neighborhoods near the Queens-Nassau County border to be included in the same state Senate and state Assembly districts.

“We’re advocating in both of these areas,” Najmi said. “Richmond Hill is gerrymandered even more severely than Bellerose.”

The state Legislature redraws the lines based on population changes and New York is set to lose two congressional seats because the state population did not grow as much as the rest of the country.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has to approve the lines and has promised to veto any plan that does not come from an independent commission.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 7:52 pm, January 11, 2012
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