Activism in Music – June 2013

Chandrasonic, guitarist and front man with one of the most politically inclined UK bands – Asian Dub Foundation and Emma Ako promoter of London’s new Carpe Diem spoken word events which raises awareness  of  issues around mineral mining in the Congo,  plus of course the poet of Battersea Park, Chris Paradox and myself chika, are all Rising this month. Activism in music is not as new a concept as we may imagine. Music has been used as a form of protest and political expressions for centuries. Beethoven’s third symphony for example was originally called ‘Bonaparte’ until 1804 when Napoleon crowned himself emperor and the composer renamed his symphony ‘Heroic Symphony composed to Celebrate the Memory of a Great Man’. Quite a put down. Although the protest song has continued to play a part in music the big question I wanted to tackle on the show was – has it had any impact? Hip hop for example is often synonymous with political ranting. Public Enemy, Immortal Technique, Dead Prez, the list is endless. But whilst their lyrics may educate or inform, do they inspire us to get up and do something about the issues they raise? My fear was that the answer was no. But something came to light. It’s obvious really. Protest music keeps these issues in people’s awareness. Lyrics keep people’s minds alert. It tells them out there that...

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