On January 27th, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order that restricts immigration and travel into the United States for any citizen of seven Muslim-majority countries. In a tumultuous time for world, many are reacting with fervent and deserved anger, disgust, grief, and fear. However, the political subversiveness of music itself proves to be a vessel for important viewpoints to be communicated, as evidenced by the artists we’ve featured below. While President Trump may restrict who can enter the United States, he can’t control the music we as global citizens discover and absorb. Read on to engage in some political listening with Swet Shop Boys, ODDISEE, Half Waif, Sevdaliza, and Four Tet.
Swet Shop Boys: Dropping a video for “Zayn Malik” only two days before President Trump’s immigration and travel ban, Swet Shop Boys (Riz Ahmed and Himanshu Suri) have been vocal about the discrimination they face as South Asians. Ahmed wrote a blisteringly raw essay for The Guardian in September 2016, titled “Typecast as a Terrorist”, and the rap duo explored the prejudice and fear they experience at the hands of TSA in their single “T5” (the lyrics of which were recently chanted at an airport immigration ban protest). Ahmed, who is British-Pakistani, and the Indian-American Suri utilize South Asian influences in their new single, “Zayn Malik”, with a video that’s heavy on drone surveillance and partying “Diwali style”.
ODDISEE: DC rapper ODDISEE wrote a poignant tweet following the passing of the Executive Order on January 27th. With a new album to be released February 24th, get to know ODDISEE’s honest, masterfully crafted lyrical style in “Things”.
The America I know allowed me as a Sudanese, American, Muslim rapper to perform in a church for people of all faiths. 🇸🇩 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/xUlAfjMmgz
— ODDISEE (@ODDISEE) January 29, 2017
Half Waif: The daughter of an Indian refugee mother and Swiss/Irish/American father, Half Waif‘s music joins together the cultures she grew up with. In “Frost Burn”, she explores the construct of home, and how it shapes identity – and vice versa. A beautiful piece with Celtic and Indian influences, Half Waif’s song comes at a fitting time for the country. As she says, “I’m the daughter of a refugee, and somewhere in me is this innate story of searching for a home. As a result, I have many – a collection of places that I latch onto, that inspire me, that fuse themselves to me. I’m sentimental, nostalgic – yet constantly seeking what’s next, excavating the sound of my past and coloring it to make the sound of my future.”
Sevdaliza: Born in Iran and based in the Netherlands, Sevdaliza responded to the immigration and travel order by writing a song in Farsi, titled “BEBIN”. Proceeds from the song benefit “victims of racial exclusion.” Read an extended profile on Sevdaliza on Pitchfork.
Four Tet: Following President Trump’s signing of his Executive Order, Four Tet reacted and created a 28-hour long playlist highlighting music from the countries affected. Featuring music from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen, the British producer continues to expand his playlist. Listen to the playlist here, and keep a watch for more music.