February 20, 2017 Lois Browne

Stand Up and Speak Out: 5 Political Albums you need to listen to

Last year was full of controversy for many. Brexit divided the nation and Trump unexpectedly won the US Election. Since the inauguration on January 20th, his controversial agendas have dramatically unravelled before our eyes as he has tried to enforce bans on immigration and to build segregating walls. However amidst all the chaos he has united millions of people globally- mobilising them on to the streets in protest. Ranging from the Women’s March on Washington to the emergency demonstrations at American airports and outside Downing Street- to say no to racism and no to divisive politics.

Out of political unrest, comes great strength and resistance through music. Take for instance Green Day’s American Idiot (2004); which was written in response to George Bush’s presidency and the invasion into Iraq. Or The Clash’s self-titled debut (1977) which opposed capitalism, addressed class economics and race. There’s a new movement brewing and today musicians are still continuing to use their platforms to challenge and question the inequalities that exist in our society. Here I’ve rounded up five of the most recent political albums to get you fired up and out on to the streets to revolt.


Frank Ocean- Blonde (2016)

Frank Ocean BlondePolitical Discussion:

  • LGBT+
  • Black Lives Matter

Now while I may appreciate that Blonde does not initially come straight to mind, when thinking about political music it is highly underrated. Frank Ocean immediately addresses the unlawful shootings occurring in America with opener ‘Nikes’ by paying tribute to Trayvon Martin- a 17 year old boy who was wrongfully shot dead by George Zimmerman after he had decided to take the law into his own hands.

On the other hand the core message of this album is about accepting different sexualities and embracing whoever you may be. Nowadays strong rhetoric still forces some people to hide their true identities, which he highlights on ‘Seigfried’- the sharing and openness of Ocean’s romantic tales is to be recognised and is immense.


Solange- A Seat At The Table (2016)

Solange A Seat At The TablePolitical Discussion:

  • Black Lives Matter
  • Racism

A Seat At The Table was my number one album of 2016 for many reasons. It discussed the microaggressions that black people face on a daily basis- on tracks such as ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ and ‘F.U.B.U’. It shone a light on the positives of the minority communities, was about empowerment and unashamedly celebrated blackness.

The LP is intellectually structured with interludes that include some contributions from Solange Knowles’ parents, they add a historical context to the album, as her father describes growing up black in a segregated America on ‘Interlude: Dad Was Mad’ when the KKK was still valued figures. The album last year debuted at the number one spot on the US Billboard chart and brought to the forefront the multifaceted black experience, which at times is not always the easiest topic to discuss in the mainstream.


The So So Glos- Kamikaze (2016)

The So So Glos KamikazePolitical Discussion:

  • Capitalism
  • Poverty
  • Mental Health

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, The So So Glos are: brothers Alex Levine, Ryan Levine, Zach Staggers and Matt Elkin. Kamikaze is alight with a raw punk spirit, which features lashings of anthemic chants, scuzzy guitar riffs and crude vocals. It attacks the establishment and draws attention to the imbalance of wealth on ‘New York, New York’ as Alex yells, “castle in the sky, one mile high, built to shelter the rich and greedy, rows of eyes disguised as windows looking down on the poor and the needy.” Whilst also addressing the realities of many who suffer from mental health and the conflicting information we consume from the media.

Community driven and invested in giving back to their neighbourhood, the group have co-founded two busy underground music venues The Market Hotel and Shea Stadium which have become established institutions, in their own right.


A Tribe Called Quest- We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service (2016)

A Tribe Called Quest We Got It From HerePolitical Discussion:

  • Black Lives Matter
  • Racism
  • Gentrification
  • Donald Trump
  • Islamophobia

With a track called ‘The Donald’ and references to the content of his racist speeches on ‘We The People’, ‘We Got It From Here…’ was a direct response and attack on his candidacy. What else could prompt A Tribe Called Quest to return with their first album in 18 years?

Like A Seat At The Table the record salutes the beauty of being black but also talks about the struggles of life in general for minorities, in a country that was built on immigration and multiculturalism. ‘The Space Programme’ sets the tone instantaneously, as the hip hop collective call for people to unite and fight (within only 15 seconds of play) while demanding that we keep politics on the left and far away from the right.


Beyoncé- Lemonade (2016)

Beyonce LemonadePolitical Discussion:

  • Black Lives Matter
  • Racism
  • Feminism

The force and emblem of Beyoncé’s NFL Super Bowl half-time performance is one that will be etched into the minds of those that witnessed it for decades to come, as she took over the stage with dancers fashioned in reference to the revolutionary group the Black Panthers.

Released originally as a film via HBO, it was a cinematic piece which featured successful woman of colour, tennis champion Serena Williams and actress-cum-feminist activist Amandla Stenberg. There is a reason why Lemonade is the first Beyoncé album I’ve ever physically purchased. It’s outspoken, dominating and lyrically fierce, ‘I am the dragon breathing fire’ (‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’) and ‘Won’t let my freedom rot in hell’ (‘Freedom’). It demands for matriarchal power throughout, specifically on ‘Formation’ and provides you with the passion to make a socio-political change.

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Lois Browne

Lois is a freelance music journalist with a thirst for collecting records, attending gigs and festivals. She's contributed to Clash Magazine, Shufsounds (Blog) and AAA Music (Blog) as well running her own blog- "purehonestytba"

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