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.
Detroit techno and French pop along with Arabic music influences. Mix that with themes of a Lebanese revolution, COVID-19, BLM, the death of Arab LGBT+ rights activist Sarah Hegazy, and much more and you have Nouvelle Vague by Wake Island.
The electronic duo has now released the song twice, once in French and another time in English. Their full length LP is due to drop on April 30th, 2021, and with that album, the duo explores identity and transformation through their immigrant perspective. The album features songs in English, French and Arabic and is “a tribute to the Arab community who are often faced with no other choice but to leave their homes in search of peace and freedom.”
“…we wanted to show the avalanche of events that happened to us during the year from the Lebanese revolution to the Beirut explosion, the never-ending pandemic, Black lives matter, the death of Sarah Hegazy, the dismantling of the music industry and more. All these events affected deeply us on a personal and professional level. That said, 2020 was also a year where we found love, explored new artistic avenues, opened a new studio, found new sources of inspiration and learned how to improve our lives. We felt a profound shift in our society, a rise of empathy, a curiosity about this “other” that we thought so different, but who turned out to be just like us.”
Some musicians make a song or two, consciously in protest, and the rest of their catalog is often something else. Others perhaps get into using their voice responsibly at some point during their career. As soon as young Jamie Holmes was in primary school, he learned about Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind” which inspired him to dive further into protest music. Later his learning path led to other legendary protest musicians such as Pete Seeger and Joan Baez. The latter he was fortunate enough to meet when he was in high school.
“…in high school, my guitar teacher was Jim Kirkpatrick. He managed to go on tour around America I think with Thea Gilmore, who was supporting Baez! Well, Jim knew how much I adored Joan Baez – I’d listen to her music for hours – so he contacted her manager and asked if I could go backstage! The show was great. Her voice is incredible, and it is the same today (if not better) than when she was still in her 20s. When I went backstage I was super nervous and star-struck, but we had a chat about my own music and what I wanted to do – it was great, and she inspired my guitar playing to become more finger-picked rather than with a plectrum – something you can hear on ‘Green Revolution'”.
The self-declared “proud socialist” told me he wants to make a difference in the world. His debut album focuses on the future, climate change, the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality, and the strange year of 2020. The first single off the album has already gotten airplay on BBC radio and it will drop on all streaming services on the 22nd of January. The music video, which features a time-lapse recording of Jamie himself painting, can be viewed exclusively below.
EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE Green Revolution by Jamie Holmes
Check out Jamie’s webpage for all updates on the upcoming debut album and his social media for more info: Instagram – YouTube