In a time where we await the Brexit, the American state of Alabama approves the strongest abortion laws, and racism still rears its ugly head… these three artists hit hard and form a wave of contemporary protest music.
London duo Farai addresses political and social frustrations with cast-iron poetry. ‘Theresa May, do you know how it feels to count days and hours till payday?’ shouts Farai Bukowski-Bouquet to the British Prime Minister in her track ‘This Is England’. She is a part of NON worldwide, a collective with African roots that manages to connect the most fascinating sounds of the electronica scene from all over the world and then couple this with a very outspoken political opinion. Those political points of view are also incorporated on their wonderful debut via Big Dada ‘Rebirth’.
Simbi Ajikawo allows her unsalted opinion seep through in her lyrics too. ‘GREY area’, the third album by the 25-year-old London MC, is without a doubt one of the most impressive albums of the year. She zooms in on a society that still hasn’t managed to offer gender equality in the year 2019. So, in the male dominated rap scene, Little Simz is often categorized as ‘UK female MC’, something that she finds totally ridiculous. In ‘Venom’ she raps about the mental battle with herself, her recognition as an artist, and the influence of predominantly male music critics:
‘Fuck those who don't believe
They would never wanna admit I'm the best here
From the mere fact that I've got ovaries
It's a woman's world, so to speak
Pussy, you sour
Never givin' credit where it's due 'cause you don't like pussy in power’ – Venom
She shakes off the demands that that our society makes of women: ‘I don’t need stress, that stress. I’m a boss in a fucking dress.’ – Boss
And she promises to do better herself, by giving her future daughter the necessary support and self-confidence:
‘Teach my daughter about the wonders of the world, I’m convinced
If she’s anything like me I’m raisin' a king’ – Therapy
Her sharp pen and noise- and funk-influenced beats make her one of the most interesting figures in the hip-hop scene at the moment.
Jamila Woods, from Chicago, takes a different approach. She digs into a rich history of Afro-American culture and helps to design the future. The soul songstress and activist gave every track on her impressive second album LEGACY! LEGACY! he name of a cultural icon with African roots.
Prominent poet Sonia Sanchez receives a tribute on the album. Her honest view of racism and slavery in Amerika inspired Jamila to embrace the painful history instead of avoiding it.
The tale of Betty Davis, wife of famous trumpet player Miles Davis, is still relevant. People had trouble dealing with her outspoken funk and soul music and sensual live shows. That same feeling of being intimidated by strong women that Little Simz touches on is also written about by Jamila:
‘What is it with you independent men? It’s always something
Threatening your masculine energy, you think it's fleeting
Nothing you ain't give to me I can take away from you now
Let me be, I'm trying to fly, you insist on clipping my wings’
Zola Neale Hurston, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Frida Kahlo, Eartha Kitt, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sun Ra, Octavia Butler and James Baldwin are also a very integral part of the personal, feminist album that LEGACY! LEGACY! has become.