"Say this is people power / Throw up my finger and I'm taking on the Tower". Taking pot shots at The Donald is all fine and good but it is so much better when it's done by a daring, eclectic, unpredictable original like Ms Maya Arulpragasam. An activist and a true artist of rap, MIA's POWA is a unique mix of doo-wop loops, laid-back, bitter rhymes and Tamil folk percussion.
Distancing herself in no uncertain terms from a familiar list of manufactured pop megastars from The Spice Girls to Rihanna, MIA is a very different role model for young women of the 21st Century: not a celebrity desperate for attention and approval from the masses preaching an empty notion of "girl power", but a free-thinking individual and an artist "causing drama".
A high-speed combination of punk chorus and ska verse, Mustard Plug’s singalong Unite and Fight is just one of a sensational 28 tracks on the Ska Against Racism album compiled by Bad Time Records in 2020 to raise funds for non-profit organisations working to improve education, opportunity and justice for black people in the USA and beyond. With a barrelling momentum and a repudiation of violent action, this uplifting song is a call to arms for those of us committed to disarmament.
Celebrating the determination of “one hundred thousand teenagers” to take over the streets of London to save their future from calamity, KIDSTRIKE! by novelist and singer songwriter JB Morrison – aka Jim Bob – is taken from the UK Top 40 album Pop Up Jim Bob released in August 2020 and inspired by the real life activism of countless young activists. But the song is run through with a rueful recognition of the singer’s own fading urge to save the world.
Inspired in part by the fatal shooting in New York of a ten-year-old black boy by a white plain-clothes policeman, the audacious centrepiece of Stevie Wonder’s experimental 1973 album was a seven-and-a-half-minute meditation on the brutality of black America: Living for the City…
After graduating from the University of Keele in England with a degree in Politics and American Studies, Jon worked as editor of a music and entertainment magazine before spending several years as a freelance writer and, with the advent of the internet, a website designer, developer and consultant. He lives in Reading, home to one of the world's most famous and long-running music festivals, which, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he had attended every year since 1992.