Rewriting or editing written history is a daunting task. Unfortunately though, it is a necessary one. What children learn about the world today, is more often than not based on information put together by men. And so the information tenda to be one-sided, lacking and sometimes literally false.
A new book intends to help a new narrative find ground. This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music is edited by Kim Gordon and Sinéad Gleeson and it features essays by musicians and music journalists about the genre-breakers, the experimentalists and the women who mixed music and activism.
“This Woman’s Work seeks to confront the male dominance and sexism that have been hard-coded in the canons of music, literature, and film and has forced women to fight pigeon-holing or being side-lined by carving out their own space.”
According to the book’s press release these women seek to shatter the dominating narrative and one can only imagine how that can empower and motivate young women of the future to venture fearlessly into the creative arts.
“Women have to speak up, to shout louder to tell their story – like the auteurs and ground-breakers featured in this collection, including: Anne Enright on Laurie Anderson; Megan Jasper on her ground-breaking work with Sub Pop; Margo Jefferson on Bud Powell and Ella Fitzgerald; and Fatima Bhutto on music and dictatorship.”
This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music is released on April 7 by White Rabbit.
At this point in time we should not have to go to any length introducing Run The Jewels but just in case you have not heard of them, we urge you to check them out. This duo makes incredible productions, they are community organisers, their flow is brilliant and their songs are just so catchy. On top of that, they use their voices fiercely and now that their vocal chords resonate to an even larger audience they keep at it and make one of the greatest rap/protest albums we’ve ever heard. Just check out these lyrics from a song that was written before Eric Garner’s murder and watch the single below – you’ll see that this is revolution music.
“The way I see it, you’re probably freest from the ages one to four Around the age of five you’re shipped away for your body to be stored They promise education, but really they give you tests and scores And they predictin’ prison population by who scoring the lowest And usually the lowest scores the poorest they look like me And every day on the evening news, they feed you fear for free And you so numb, you watch the cops choke out a man like me Until my voice goes from a shriek to whisper, “I can’t breathe””
Hardworking hardcore band War On Women are what you might call familiars of Shouts as they were some of the webpage’s first interviews. Since a way back we have followed them grow into a force to be reckoned with as they take on large stages and use their talents frequently in support of all the voiceless. Their new album, Wonderful Hell, completely rips and is a wonderfully hellish way forward for the band. It’s punk, it’s angry, it’s current, it’s groovy and it’s just really, really good music.
Cybersecurity and computer networking by day and music and activism by night – this is Portes. As she explained to us in an interview this year her artistic name is the French name for doors: “Each style of music represents a door to explore.” Portes was born in Guatemala and at the age of 6 she was adopted to a family in the U.S. “Knowing I’m from a multicultural family grounds me in being open-minded and willing to experience other people and cultures, including their music.” Portes’ background shines through on her latest album; it is diverse, interesting and beautiful.
Different from most genres of music, rap has collectives. Many have perhaps heard of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan from the U.S., or Rap Against Dictatorship from Thailand. Wanandaf is a collective of rappers and activists out of India that make art for their fellow people – no matter who they are. This is an important factor because in India people are still, in 2020, degraded and mistreated because of their social class (otherwise known as the Caste system). Wanandaf take this seriously and drop bad ass albums while fighting for the human rights of Indian people.
Two friends that have been making music since the age of 14 is either a recipe for disaster or success. In the case of My Politic and their latest album it is the latter. Shortsighted People In Power is a reflection on the state of things in the U.S. and a very hard hitting, angry and honest album. As one half of the duo, Kaston Guffey, told us “I wanted to write something honest, something true”.
An educator, an activist and a musician. Although this is the resume of many of the artists that we feature here on Shouts, Valerie Orth has said she was first an activist before getting into using music as a tool for activism: “She challenged corporate behemoths like Proctor & Gamble, joined the fight for fair-trade coffee, and traveled to China to consolidate worker support. She led the effort to pass San Francisco’s anti-sweatshop law in 2005.”
By The Time I Get To Minnesota The Cornel West Theory
From the front porch of the U.S. comes one of the baddest rap groups around. Vetted by the doctor himself, The Cornel West Theory bring hard, truth telling lyrics to their fellow citizens under noisy, punkish, sample driven beats. If you ever have the chance to ever catch them live, grab the opportunity – you won’t be disappointed.
Not necessarily a protest musician, but rather one of the greatest MC’s in the game for the past decade or so, Sa-Roc always brings consciousness and real talk to the table. Her latest effort is a huge LP with that has been in the works for at least a couple of years. Black empowerment, female empowerment and a plea to look inside ourselves and make the world a bit better is all wrapped up in her incredible bars.
Maybe the hardest listen on this list (for most people) brings the most animal friendly lyrics mixed between the grindcore noise and pummeling riffs. Australian band Facecutter are a vegan band and their songs are an angry statement about the world of factory farms, animal welfare and consumerism. This music tears your soul apart if you let it.
If you recall statues of a naked Donald Trump popping up across cities in the US then you might have heard of the anonymous protest art collective Indecline. For the past few years the group has been collecting footage that now has turned into a 45 minute long documentary.
One unnamed representative for the group told Rolling Stone that “What was once set up to be a deep dive into the history of resistance art, soon became a ‘call to action.’”. Via Rolling Stone’s large platform the documentary can now exclusively be streamed in full.
Throughout the film we get a reminder of the stunningly creative, elaborate and always illegal protest art that Indecline has made like renting a room at Trump tower only to create a prison inside that room filled with rats and a Trump impersonator. Lending their voices to share their thoughts on protest art are some protest musicians such as Tom Morello, Moby, Fat Mike and Nadya Tolokonnikova among many more.
Damien Echols, who was wrongfully sent to death row as one of the West Memphis Three, speaks of how protest art literally helped save him from a state ordered execution.
Art and humour have long lived together as well. The film clearly shows how humour is necessary to get a message across. After all, humour is closely related to positivity – and kindness. One of the representatives of Indecline, when interviewed, has a cop in the background who is tied up on a chair. The Indecline representative quickly asks the cop if he is ok before continuing to answer the questions.
The film is directed by Colin Day who directed Saving Banksy. Banksy is another artist who’s work is documented in the film for his creative graffiti that has caught the attention (and inspired resistance) around the whole world.