The Reagan era may have jump-started an entire era of politically-charged punk music, but dissent lies among the ranks of globalized musicians in 2007 as well. And the music of the Bush era is as fun as it is political.
Wunmi, a singer who used to perform with Soul II Soul and Roy Ayers, takes the basic elements of Afrobeat (jazz, funk, 70s African percussion, lots of repeated musical phrases), and adds distinct verses, choruses, and hooks to make it sound like a pop song. On her song “Talk Talk Talk,” She tells politicians to stop flapping their jaws—”Too much talking. Too much yap yap talking”—and to start solving problems.
Brooklyn’s Antibalas, a self-described “giant versatile orchestra,” plays Latin-influenced Afrobeat music inspired by Afrobeat originator Fela Kuti and Latin jazz band leader Eddy Palmieri. Their 2007 album Security powers through political songs like “War Hero” and “Filibuster X,” but band members say that even their instrumentals are filled with enough cultural and political emotion to inspire awareness and change.
Ozomatli, a 10-piece Latin/funk/rock band from Los Angeles, describes its brand of musical activism as “oppositional politics.” Their song “La Temperatura,” off their 2007 album Don’t Mess With the Dragon, was inspired by immigration marches last summer in downtown L.A. Last month, the group was credited as the first western artist to perform in Nepal in recent history and the group’s shows were acknowledged by some as the first peaceful and non-political mass gathering ever organized in modern Kathmandu.
Take that, Reagan Youth!