Although all being between the ages 10 to 16, The Linda Lindas are quickly making their appearance felt. They have already opened up gigs for the legends in Bikini Kill and had a song featured in Amy Poehler’s feminist movie Moxie.
Mila is the drummer of the band and she co-wrote Sexist, Racist Boy with Eloise, the bass player. During a recent concert in a public library Mila introduced the song with a short story: “A little while before we went into lockdown, a boy in my class came up to me and said that his dad told him to stay away from Chinese people. After I told him that I was Chinese, he backed away from me. Eloise and I wrote this song based on that experience.”
Before Eloise then dropped a real heavy bass line she added in a shout:
“So this is about him and all the other racist, sexist boys in this world!”
These young musicians certainly have a successful career ahead of them in music as well as in activism. At this young age, they are using their voices to point out the injustices in the world as well as what is being done to change things for the better. In a recent Facebook post, they noted how they all wore T-shirts from Tees 4 Togo, a company, started by their idol, Kathleen Hanna of before mentioned Bikini Kill, which directs 100% of its income to Peace Sisters, a non-profit organisation that helps girls in the West African country of Togo to go to school. Click the above links to buy a tee for 40$ – that is how much it costs to send a girl to school for one year in Togo.
Sons of Kemet have never been known to stay stuck in the same path. The band is more of a collaborative effort, that has changed through the years, but guided by the brilliant jazz mind of Shabaka Hutchings. On Black To The Future (Impulse!, 2021) the saxophonist and clarinet player has with him Theon Cross on tuba and Edward Wakili-Hick and Tom Skinner on percussion. In addition, the jazz music they create is, on some tracks, fused with spoken word, song, and rap.
The opening track sets the theme. Under a build-up of horn instruments and percussion, poet Joshua Idehen performs a powerful spoken-word piece that explores the past and present of his people’s oppression. He’s certainly angry and tired which he makes clear.
“Thank you For refusing me that inch Because now I do recognise your yardstick The scales have toppled The curtains have collapsed The blonde baboon’s arse is bare in the open And I am a field negro now I do not want your equality It was never yours to give me And even then it was too minor, too little, too late Pull the balaclava over my heart and set it running My revolution rides a black horse and it is stunning”
Another track, Hustle, has a deep, strong beat to it that makes one want to stand up and march in rhythm. The chorus, “Born from the mud with the hustle inside me”, repeats in such a way that it becomes a mantra that one can imagine thousands of people chanting on the street while demanding change.
For those that think jazz can be heavy on the ears, have no worry. This is not as experimental as Hutchings could easily have made it. This is more dance-able and if anything, full of fire. A subtle type of fire that will make you want to move your way in rhythm to the protest.
The farmers have shaken the government with their protests, now continuing for over three months. They’ve challenged the regime with their blockades, sit-ins, marches, as much as they have with their songs and music. This is not new. Historically, agrarian movements such as Tebhaga have given us a rich tradition of music that articulates farmers’ struggle, resolve, and demands.
Ongoing protests are no different as songs in solidarity have been produced in hundreds, adding a contemporary zing to traditional forms, creating new musical interventions, and standing up against the regime that has tried to censor them deploying all its auxiliaries. This episode of Waqt ki Awaz, in solidarity with the protesting farmers, is a tribute to the poetry and music from the farmers protests.