We’ve had overwhelming response to our November’s Lie series, and felt that rather than split the idea up into a series of shorter posts, we’d keep it going as long as needed to really dig into the heart of what gets people fired up. We’re taking the lead here and dissecting what it is that motivates each of us. Looking through a lot of the answers submitted, it’s a little peak into how people engage in music. Is it the music or the lyrics that get you motivated? Is there or does there need to be a correlation between the two? And what is a protest song?
So here is what the Never Nervous dudes get wound up on:
DEAD PREZ – “It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop”
My favorite protest song has to be Dead Prez ‘It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop.’ It calls out corporate/government/large scale industry bullshit and it calls out the choices and actions of individuals who are capable to be the change. I like that it recognizes people are not powerless subjects. People (myself included) confuse complaining in their echo chambers about conditions and rules created by large faceless entities, with active resistance. Dead Prez didn’t acknowledge that cushiony, lukewarm middle ground as a legitimate option. “Rather have a Lexus or Justice? A dream or some substance?” They forced you to understand the dichotomy capitalism created and pick a side, or at least recognize which side you choose. While the song pertains specifically to rappers and their relationship to the music industry, the principle of the message really applies to any entity to individual relationship (government to citizen, worker to employer, consumer to corporation etc). And the beat is hard as hell.
SHIPPING NEWS – “ANTEBELLUM”
My instinct is not to pull up a thinker, but something that incites in me some kind of rage, ostensibly that I can focus on the machine. That can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from instrumental metal jams to minimalist compositions to brooding indie, but in my heart, the heavier the better as a reflection of that particular mood. There are a host of great options, but in keeping true with our guiding principles here, I went with Antebellum off of the criminally underrated One Less Heartless To Fear by The Shipping News. Culled from their last live show, one that I regret very much missing, Antebellum is all muscular rage with the kind of art house lyrics that make me think. The picture painted is one of pure and unbridled corporate supplication by the ruling elite, and one that seems to end in catastrophe. While I hope for the best, it’s hard not to see parallels here in an administration that is so bluntly anti-science that it would consider dissolving the EPA. Who are these assholes to justify the destruction of our planet, just so industry can reap what is ultimately a temporary gain? It’s heinous is what it is, and The Shipping News speak to me on this track in a way that few are able.
PUBLIC ENEMY – “Fight The Power”
You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts! That’s the way I feel every time I blast Public Enemy‘s classic protest theme “Fight The Power”, a tense but funky banger from 1990 that was first showcased in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and later on Fear Of A Black Planet. Chuck D’s bold lyrics are straight to the fucking point regarding his feelings on free speech (“freedom of speech is freedom of death”), protest (“from the heart, it’s a start, a work of art, make a change, nothin’s strange”) and how loads extraordinary black folks continue be ignored as heroes (“most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps” & the classic line “Elvis was a hero to most but he never meant shit to me”). Chuck’s words aren’t overly complicated, and they don’t need to be here because them message is simple: “Fight the powers that be!”.
Damn, this track was released fucking 27 years ago, and for obvious reasons it remains as relevant today as it ever has. It still hits as hard (if not harder) in modern America, making it my favorite soundtrack to silencing the bogus, backward thinking, racist homophobes that have taken power in our country. Needless to say, it is certainly recommended that “Fight The Power” is blasted at the loudest fucking volume possible, preferably in a residential area.