Tag Archives: hiphop

Pushing against hateful narrative with art: an interview with Bristol musician Krantz

Take discovering acid jazz at the age of 12, then studying classical music and throw some beatboxing into the mix, and you’ll have some of the pieces visible that make up Bristol musician and activist, Krantz.

After discovering his music on X (formerly known as Twitter) I contacted Krantz to learn more about his work. It was clear that the man uses all his talents very specifically, and directly, to tackle certain political issues that belong to his proximate surroundings as well as around the globe. One of his latest tracks is a piece of emotional, moving electronica, that is created around a speech from US Senator Nina Turner, which Krantz sampled and puzzled in with the music – as if the powerful words were performed to the music.

During recent Covid lockdowns, Krantz used all of his musical talents, every Sunday, to entertain his fellow neighbors by performing music from his garden patio. Later on, other neighbors and musicians started participating, sending tones across rooftops and lifting people’s spirits.

Krantz took a moment to answer a few questions to further explain his background, music, and future projects. Read his message to the world below and check out his webpage and socials to follow his music.

Halldór Kristínarson: Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions! First of all, who is Krantz and how did you first get into making music?

Krantz: I’m a pianist, producer, composer, songwriter and beatboxer from Bristol who has a passion for politics and wants to help those speaking truth to power by sampling their spoken dialogue from Youtube videos to create impactful and memorable songs. I want to help them reach as far and wide as possible to show that people are leading the fight against those who continue to want to divide us.

I’m a classically trained pianist and after discovering Acid Jazz at the age of 12 and teaching myself to play Jazz and Funk, I also found a love for emotive classical music after hearing Samuel Barber’s ‘Adagio For Strings’. When I began composing on the piano I started beatboxing to give each piece it’s character/ genre and this ability to beatbox and play piano at the same time has led to me supporting the likes of the Dub Pistols, Kosheen and performing at the world-renowned Boom Town Festival on multiple occasions.

My passion for many musical genres is displayed in my huge catalogue of tracks which include Classical, Post Classical, Orchestral Dubstep, Electronica, Hip Hop, Jazz, Beatbox, Funk, DnB, House, Trip Hop and World Fusion and I look forward to continue sharing as much music of varying genres as possible in the future.

HK: Did you decide from the beginning of your career to use your music and your voice for good? Or did politics and protest come into your craft at a later stage?

K: Politics and protest definitely came the more I emotionally matured and realised the good fortune and privilege I’ve had by having opportunities and choices. Before deciding to use the dialogue of truth teller’s dialogue in my tracks, my own lyrics were always very zeitgeist and addressed social, political and environmental issues so it was a natural progression and perhaps was destined to happen.

HK: Why do you think music is such an effective vessel for protest and activism?

K: Most people won’t spend the time watching a debate, an interview or even reading full articles and mostly make decisions on very little information e.g. ‘get Brexit done’. To be able to deliver the truth and the words of truth-tellers to the general public we have to be creative and find vessels that push against the [mainstream media] narrative that are entertaining, memorable through repetition and help induce introspection- you can take a horse to water but can’t make it drink. People need to be in a neutral space away from bias or influence to truly reflect and this is where art and specifically music can be most powerful. I’m creating alternative versions and remixes of multiple dance genres for every song so that the dialogue has a chance to reach as far and wide as possible and for the tracks to be used in DJ mixes online, in bars, festivals, radio and in clubs. The hope is people really enjoy the music, find the dialogue intriguing, want to find out who’s delivering the lyrics and then hopefully start following that person.

HK: You mentioned via our chat, on the medium formerly known as Twitter, that Facebook and Instagram had suppressed your posts after sharing a certain song. Can you tell me more about that?

K: I produced a song and lyric video featuring the dialogue of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) called “The Insurrection” and when trying to boost a post containing the video, Facebook responded by saying it was inappropriate and was not following the rules and regulations. Ever since that point my exposure has been incredibly small and is proving to be a massive obstacle in sharing content with people even within my own social circles let alone the wider public. Twitter is the only platform that really offers me the opportunity to share content to a wide audience and therefore the potential for increased awareness and followers.

Krantz working on ‘We Must Stand Up and Speak the Truth ft. Nina Turner’. Photo retrieved from the official Krantz Facebook page.

HK: How is the scenery around you, music and activism-wise? Where you live and work, do you feel artists are using their voices to create change?

K: I very much keep myself to myself in regards to music creation however I don’t feel enough people are using their privilege and platform for positive means. I’m incredibly lucky to be in a position where I can make a difference in people’s lives and I feel it’s now my duty to make this happen. Fear and hate are constantly being fed to the public and we need to fight against this with an abundance of art filled with messages of optimism, truth and unity.

HK: Who are some of the artists or people that have inspired you?

K: Herbie Hancock, Samuel Barber, Hybrid, Outside, James Brown, Tower Of Power, Pink Floyd, Jazzanova

HK: What do you hope to achieve with your music?

K: I hope to help inspire other artists to produce their own political/protest art, for people to listen to the songs and be inclined to find out more about the featured speaker and to help sow some seeds that lead to introspection. Even if someone initially only engages with the composition hopefully through repetition, the lyrical content will start to penetrate their thoughts.

HK: What is on the horizon for you?

K: I’m continuing to produce a vast amount of songs with alternative versions and remixes which I’ll be releasing over the coming months. The next release is a track featuring James O’Brien (LBC) called “Twaddle Is Still The Order Of The Day” which is about the collusion between politicians and the right-wing newspapers. I’m looking to release it before the end of the year. I’ll then be releasing 3 different versions of a narrative I’ve created using Nina Turner- the song is called “Many Hands Make For Light Work”. The genres are classical, Jazz and Dub.

HK: Thank you again for participating. Anything else you‘d like to shout from the rooftops?

K: Want to say a massive thanks to yourself for putting the time and effort into trying to help make a difference. It’s not easy, you have to have self-belief, believe that hope can materialize and the aptitude to be able to keep on pushing. Keep up the good work as it will pay off and we will help to implement change.

Myanmar anti-junta activist pens a rap song seeking justice for his murdered parents

His parents were killed in 2022 after he escaped from prison

Screenshot from YouTube video of “The Sun sets before the Sunset” / BPLA VENTURE

This article was written by Mong Palatino and originally published on the Global Voices (GV) webpage on 7th of November 2023. It is republished here under the media agreement between GV and Shouts.

Myanmar activist Sann Minn Paing released a song on YouTube a year after his parents were killed by junta forces. His Facebook post announcing the song and his demand for justice went viral, reflecting the continuing resistance and online pushback against the military government.

The military grabbed power in February 2021, which was immediately fiercely resisted by pro-democracy forces. Sann Minn Paing, a member of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, was among those who challenged the junta and was arrested for being part of the civil disobedience movement. According to a report by The Irrawaddy, an exiled Burmese media group, he spent a year at three interrogation centers and four police stations in Yangon. Since he was only 17 at the time of his arrest, he was transferred to a juvenile facility.

Together with 13 other young prisoners, he escaped on September 23, 2022. Authorities killed his parents inside their house on September 29.

A year after the killing, Sann Minn Paing posted on his Facebook page that he has written a song to pay tribute to his parents. The Irrawaddy translated an excerpt of the post:

“I still suffer from mental trauma. But I try to keep going. I don’t know when I will die. So, I want to create a piece of art that will last and that demands justice for my parents, in case I die before the revolution succeeds. So, I created this song.”

In an interview with The Irrawaddy, he said he wanted to inspire other victims of the junta brutality to continue the fight for justice.

“I could never repay them. This is the first thing I have done for my parents. If we bow to every act of oppression, we won’t be able to stand up in this life. I hope my song will encourage families who have been affected by the fascist military to demand justice in the future.”

A report by the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar revealed that as of October 2023, junta forces have killed 4,000 civilians, destroyed 75,000 civilian homes and infrastructures, displaced over 2 million people, and driven 15 million into food insecurity over the past two years.

The title of the song is “The Day The Sun Disappears Before The Sunset.” A music video was uploaded on YouTube which depicts the artist’s anguish and guilt over the death of his parents.

Screenshot from YouTube video of “The Sun sets before the Sunset” / BPLA VENTURE

Even after the death of his parents, he continues to be involved in the pro-democracy movement. In his song, he speculates about what might become of him due to his resistence.

Screenshot from YouTube video of “The Sun sets before the Sunset” / BPLA VENTURE

Sann Minn Paing’s rap song is an example of the creative forms of resistance used by young activists and artists who joined the ‘Spring Revolution’ against the junta dictatorship. Other forms of resistance have included subversive pro-democracy messages through clothing and “silent strikes,” where citizens closed their businesses and stayed indoors on the same day as a method of resistance. In October 2021, a group of rap artists released a music album featuring anti-junta songs.

Listen and watch the song of Sann Minn Paing on YouTube:

A rapper in Uzbekistan is challenging widespread social issues through his songs

Social and political problems are on full display

Uzbek rapper Konsta in the music video of his song “Sariq jiletka.” Screenshot from Konsta Uz YouTube channel.

This article was written by Nurbek Bekmurzaev and originally published on the Global Voices (GV) webpage on July 01 2023. It is republished here according to the media partnership between GV and Shouts.

On June 25, Uzbek rapper Sharif Abdullaev, who goes by the pseudonym Konsta, created headlines by releasing a new song called “Xavo” (Air). In it, Konsta raises the issue of environmental degradation caused by deforestation, development projects, and air pollution in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent. The rapper complains in the song that he is unable “to take a deep breath,” the city feels “like a cage,” and everything “white has turned grey.” Konsta notes that the root cause of these problems are humans, who behave like pests and have gotten used to cutting down trees, instead of planting them.

Here is a music video of the song “Xavo.”

“Xavo” is one of Konsta’s many songs produced in the genre of music he calls “conscious rap”. Konsta’s songs focus on Uzbek society, its problems, and the role of each individual in unfolding events. His source of inspiration is his personal experience of working at a bazaar in his hometown of Guliston in eastern Uzbekistan and being migrant labour in Russia.

Around two million Uzbek citizens work as migrant labour in Russia, where they are often subjected to discrimination and harassment by law enforcement bodies. Konsta’s songs are all in Uzbek, although he admits that he could have been more popular if he continued to write songs in Russian. “My life is incomprehensible to Russians. Our world is Uzbek,” said, Konsta explaining his decision to write songs in Uzbek in an interview with Gazeta.uz, one of the biggest media outlets in Uzbekistan.

Here is the full video of Konsta’s interview with Gazeta.uz.

In his most viewed song on YouTube “Odamlar nima deydi?” (What will people say?), Konsta tackles the country’s social issue where many feel the need to seek public approval for their personal life decisions. Konsta describes parents’ disapproval of their children’s unconventional professional choices and the pressure they exert on daughters to tolerate domestic violence and not to divorce, due to fear of social stigma.

Here is a music video of the song “Odamlar nima deydi”.

In another song related to social pressure titled “To’y” (Wedding), Konsta appears as an ordinary Uzbek man who spent all the money he saved while working as migrant labour in Russia and got into debt to organize an extravagant, large wedding. His next move is to return to Russia and continue working as migrant labour to pay off his debt. Through this song, Konsta brings light to the tradition of organizing lavish weddings most people in Uzbekistan cannot afford, forcing them to go into debt.

Here is a music video of the song “To’y”.

Konsta also reacts to political scandals in the country. On March 6, he released a song called “Sariq jiletka” (Yellow vest) in response to the news that the authorities were planning to force pedestrians, schoolchildren, and bikers to wear light-reflecting jackets at night to prevent car accidents. The Ministry of Interior rolled back its plans after a public backlash. In the song, Konsta appears as a corrupt official who came up with this idea, so he can make money on the sale of vests and go to the Maldives on vacation.

Here is a music video of the song “Sariq jiletka”.

Konsta stands out in the sea of Uzbek singers for his creativity and for tackling social and political issues. His conscious rap is a mirror where Uzbek society can see its struggles.

For a full playlist of Konsta’s music, see GV’s Spotify playlist below, and find a full array of diverse music on our Spotify profile.