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Fela Kuti on stage - Underground England blog


When it comes to politics, social injustice, or the need for Resistance, art is often the easiest way to disseminate a message. It remains a palatable envelope to transmit the word of resistance to people of all corners of the earth. And within art- music is just a fragment of that, but just as powerful as a painting or protest. For many, the need to spread the message of resistance through music is the only solution, the only tool, the only power they have access too.

So throughout this campaign, we have come across some brilliant displays of Resistance through the medium of music. You’ll find it across generations, genres and genders- and that’s another reason why we loved the music of this campaign so much. We have made a full playlist on our Spotify, available at the link HERE- but below you can find our favourites of the Resistance soundtrack.


Created after the UK decided to bomb Syria and the prime minister labelled the good people of our nation as ‘terrorist sympathizers’. Cabbage state that this in their contribution to the ever-growing class divide and destabilisation of the Earth. The working man’s hands are burnt and lied to, so use them to fight back.


Fela Kuti is a multi-faceted icon in not just Nigerian history- but the world. In 1976, he released ‘Zombie’- a furious critique of the Nigerian government and it’s violent military. Already heavily outspoken against the cruelty endured from the hands of Nigeria’s oppressors and one of Africa’s leading political activists- Fela had taken to living in a commune, named the Kalakuta Republic. The result of releasing ‘Zombie’ was catastrophic for himself, his friends and his family residing there. One thousand of the Nigerian military ransacked the commune, and burnt it to ground. Not before assaulting, raping and beating the residents- even killing his mother. The Afrobeat musician is one of the greatest musicians and advocates in modern history- and his lively, sensational songs are bursting at the seams with intentions of Resistance.


The pioneers of the 1990’s Riot Grrrl movement, Bikini Kill are fondly remembered by many women as a band who taught them about feminism and DIY. Whilst ‘Rebel Girl’ is one more popularly recognised today, those remembering hearing them for the first time in the early nineties would specify that Double Dare Ya was one of the most shocking and powerful songs to arrive on the scene. The lead track on the debut album, the song became the manifesto for the feminist rock movement, which fought against sexual harassment, misogyny, inequality, rape and abuse.


Hailing from Ukraine, DakhaBrakha are a folk band that combine an all manner of genres and sounds into their music from all around the earth. Seamlessly fusing old and new, east and west, and dressed in traditional Ukrainian garb, the quartet address many political issues that their home and surrounding countries face. Most importantly, the war declared on Ukraine from Russia. After annexing Crimea- a part of Ukraine- tensions escalated out of control between the neighbouring countries. Because of this, the band understand the responsibility they face in bringing awareness of the situation to the rest of the world- and standing in solidarity against Russia.


Dekker was inspired to write this song after watching news coverage of a student demonstration against government plans to build an industrial complex on land close to the beach, which descended into violence. He gives rude boys a warning, as the characters from his song are released from jail but then chased round town by soldiers.


The Skints remind us that protest songs are still needed with this. Their songs have always let social consciousness stream through and this is no different. Here they sing about being limited by the cost of living, it’s an urgent plea from the most beleaguered sections of society.


‘No One’s Bothered’ is another one of the stripped-back duo’s politically charged songs. They describe it as a comment on the on-going car crash that is human behaviour under capitalism, a fading sense of any connection or unified relationship with each other. Alienation is almost accepted.


A Tribe Called Quest are political rappers and this song definitely follows suit. They released this at a time when Donald Trump was promising his followers that he would build a great, great wall and temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country. These events must have been occupying a lot of their thoughts then they sat down and wrote this song. When it ends you are forced to think about the ramifications of Trump’s racist, sexist and homophobic agenda.


Public Enemy wanted this song to be an anthem that could express what young black America was feeling at that time when New York City was polarised. Chuck D builds on a song of the same name by the Isley Brothers, rapping about how they need an answer to government oppression. The government wanted rap to be infantile, to have us talking about cookies and girls and high school shit. I was like: Nah, we’re going to talk about you.


Maggie’s farm is a declaration of independence from the protest folk movement , punning on Magee’s Farm where he performed at a civil rights protest. The song is about how awful life can be when you’re being held down and oppressed and Dylan’s break from the protest movement. It’s about sticking it to the man and being a rebel in a straightjacketing society.


M.I.A. manages to confront the refugee crisis in this song due to her frustration that the world she talked about 10 years ago is still the same. This track shows that she is unique in her ability to implement ideas about pop culture and important global topics. To refugees from a refugee.

Underground Soundwave presents an ongoing series of reports on emerging and established bands with close-up Q&As, new release reviews and gig reports with a special emphasis on supporting diversity in music, women in music, independent labels and venues and the local music scene.

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