In May ‘18 it is exactly a half century ago that turbulent student revolts took place in Paris and spread throughout Europe. To mark the occasion, the city of Brussels has designated 2018 as ‘Year of the Contestation’ and asked all cultural players to offer an answer to the question: "What remains of the social, political and cultural revolution 50 years after May ‘68? Which forms of contestation are we familiar with today?" AB responds and commits to protest music. The current social and political climate is unfortunately an ‘ideal’ source of inspiration. Noteworthy: "It’s remarkable that—in a year hijacked by Trump’s reckless, witless Twitter belches—artists didn’t dive to meet his level" – Pitchfork. And also: "Most of the year's socially conscious music has been far more personal than political" - Consequence Of Sound. AB delves into the The Sound Of Protest and lets the voices of Turkish social protest songs, London’s grime, the call for (musical) borderlessness, the Black Lives Matter movement and working class heroes fully resound.
THE SOUND OF PROTEST: BLACK LIVES MATTER
The Black Lives Matter movement was established around ’13 as a reaction to police violence in the US. The movement resonated with very many artists and, ironically enough, yielded superb protest songs like Beyonce’s ‘Freedom’, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’ and Miguel’s ‘How Many’: “I'm tired of human lives turned into hashtags and prayer hands/I'm tired of watching murderers get off.”
Enter BONAVENTURE, the alter-ego of Soraya Lutangu, a producer with Congolese roots. You could call her music outright confronting, whereby the focus is on themes like institutional racisme and oppression. Bonaventure: “I don’t do music for a hobby. I’m just preparing weapons to be able to talk to white people.” Songs like ‘Supremacy’ (with incisive samples of rapper/activist Sister Souljah) and ‘Diaspora’ speak volumes.
Enter: the free jazz/spoken word project IRREVERSIBLE ENTANGLEMENTS (the band encompassing MOOR MOTHER who, according to The Wire, is ‘the most radical Afrofuturist artist to emerge for years.’) The project came into being in ’15, during a protest in the name of Musicians Against Policy Brutality, and it sounds like the modern musical equivalent of Archie Shepp’s ‘Blasé’ or ‘Poem For Malcolm’ (both from’69) … who in turn shouted out their love of Malcolm X. Protest could hardly sound rawer in the ‘Year of the Contestation’.