10 songs for the resistance – 2017 roundup
By Nathan Leigh
December 20, 2017
1. OSHUN – “Not My President”
Of all the protest chants to arise after Trump’s election, “not my president” had to be the weakest. First off, it’s not a terribly meaningful statement, secondly, it’s not really true, and third, it’s meant to absolve the chanter of the guilt of having a crypto-fascist as their president by saying “don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos,” without actually having to stand for anything. Well along comes OSHUN to turn it into the song of the goddamn year. “Not My President” isn’t just a great piece of anti-Trump art. It’s the kind of dreamy hook-filled neo-soul that OSHUN does better than just about anyone else. That it happens to be a potent political statement that embraces, defies, and dismantles the contradictions at the heart of the chant is merely a bonus. One hell of a bonus. “And I wasn’t with her / I’ve been with my ancestors who did it first / Not my president.”
2. Lonely Horse – “Devil in the White House”
Dropped on inauguration day, Lonely Horse wastes no time in getting right down to it: “there’s a devil in the White House.” It’s a sludge filled blues stomp that like their stripped down sound says it all by saying little.
3. Ecca Vandal – “Price of Living”
Before you go thinking we’re just talking about #resistance and not like actual resistance, let’s check in with Australian genre resister Ecca Vandal. Bringing in punk icons like Dennis Lyxzen of the Refused and Jason Aalon Butler of letlive., “Price of Living” takes a stand against the systems of oppression that bind the modern world together. Refugee camps and detention centers, militarized aid workers, and an economic system built on white supremacy. “This system’s sharp as knives” they sing. Well, so’s the song.
4. Kendrick Lamar – “XXX”
Kendrick’s “XXX” is so good that it overcomes a totally superfluous hook from a long-past his prime Bono. It’s a song that finds Kendrick Lamar doing what he does best: taking a look at the bigger picture, finding his hands dirty, and then issuing a call to revolution. “The great American flag / Is wrapped and dragged with explosives.”
5. Downtown Boys – “A Wall”
The dyed in the wool activists in Downtown Boys want to remind us to look at the bigger picture. “A wall is just a wall / And nothing more at all.” Singer Victoria Ruiz shouts an homage to Assata Shakur over the band’s most jagged post-punk. Reminding us that the corporeal shit demon in the White House’s pet promise to build a border wall is only a symptom of the larger problem and not the problem itself. “And when you see him now / I hope you see yourself / And when you see him now / I hope you look.”
6. MJT – “Revolution”
The Godfrey brothers have come a long way from when MJT stood for the “Michael Jazz Trio.” On their latest EP The World Is a Broken Toy, they inject their musical chops into raw indie rock that pulls no punches. “Wait take a look around / the whole world is inside out and upside down / now we need a revolution right now!”
7. Prophets of Rage – “Radical Eyes”
If there was ever a year that cried out for a super group featuring members of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill, it was 2017. Featuring some of the tightest work either Chuck D or Tom Morello have done in years, “Radical Eyes” is their defining statement. Chuck D puts everyone on blast who “can’t resist don’t even try.” Time to get radicalized.
8. Tyler Cole – “Blow Up Your TV! (ft. Willough)”
Sure, calls to destroy your TV date back to the dawn of punk rock, but Tyler Cole and Willough do it with style. In the era of fake news, Cole’s cry to escape the de-humanizing cycle of propaganda has never been more timely. Bonus points for that video.
9. Colleen Lovejoy – “With Guns (ft. Thundercat)”
Colleen Lovejoy issues a call against gun violence and especially police violence in the hard hitting (and terminally catchy) “With Guns.” It’s the rare song where a guest appearance by the immortal Thundercat doesn’t count as the best part, but Colleen Lovejoy’s got it. With hook filled alt rock, Lovejoy and Thundercat take aim at the twin engines of gun culture and toxic masculinity that drive American politics.
10. Blitz The Ambassador – “Heaven”
Born in Ghana and based in Brooklyn, Blitz the Ambassador takes a global view on his latest album, the sprawling Diasporadical. Drawing together music from all over the African diaspora, Blitz ties together the struggles and resistance, reminding us “From Joburg to Ferguson, it’s all the same system.”
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