Music

Hip-Hop Takes the Rap

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Hip-hop has arguably been the most influential popular music form of the past generation.

Artists such as Jay Z, Nas, Eminem and Missy Elliott have become household names, while the production talents of P Diddy, Dr Dre and Pharrell Williams are in constant demand. Nor has this impact been solely confined to music. The 'uniform' of low-slung jeans, Timberland boots, expensive trainers and designer tracksuits has become de rigueur among youth from Brooklyn to Brixton.

Putting the Diss in Dissent

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Review of "Sonic Jihad" by Paris

Paris first graced the airwaves in 1990 with his black nationalist, anti-establishment LP The Devil Made Me Do It. Two years later he cemented his name as one of hip-hop's most militant lyricists with Sleeping With the Enemy, which was originally due for release before the presidential election in 1992, but suppressed by the recording establishment until the November after the election. The album was shrouded in controversy, with one song in particular - Bush Killa, a revenge fantasy about the assassination of then-president George Bush Sr - raising ire.

No Big Brand

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Review of 'Goodbye Swingtime', Matthew Herbert Big Band, Accidental Records £13.99

Being any kind of conscious artist under 21st century imperialism is fraught with contradictory tensions. Aesthetics v politics? Art v propaganda? Individual v the masses? Local v global? Innovation v tradition? Particular v genre?

No Pipe Dream

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Review of 'The Unpeople' by The Unpeople

Music and politics are frequently fused. What is striking about the Unpeople is the sheer extent to which this is the case, their debut album marking a welcome return of agitprop - the open use of music as a medium for agitation and through which to deliver both a complex analysis and inspiring message.

Massive Counter-Attack

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Review of 'Peace Not War' CD, Various, £15

Fusing art and politics has never been so easy. The growing global anti-war movement means that great anthems of hope and inspiration, which celebrate the joy of mass resistance, can be recorded. This fundraising CD, which is available from major retailers as well as activists, does just that. For me there was only one choice for best song--'The Unpeople', which brillantly samples John Pilger, edges it over Asian Dub Foundation's use of Tariq Ali's melodious tones.

Revolutions per Minute

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There are now signs that the daily intensification of global politics is beginning to find an echo within popular music.

In the US, amid a climate of patriotism and mass censorship of any dissent, huge selling artists such as singer Mary J Blige and rapper Nas have come out firmly against the war on Afghanistan and the threat to Iraq. The reworking of Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On' by MTV Allstars (Christina Aguilera, Bono, Ja Rule, Alicia Keys and many more) featured a video clearly identifying poverty, racism, Aids and Third World debt as the backdrop to the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

Don't Sign Up for War

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Review of 'Red Clydeside' by Alistair Hulett, Jump Up Records

The years 1915 to 1919 saw a huge explosion of working class militancy in response to the First World War which brought Britain almost to the brink of revolution. One of the most important centres of struggle was Glasgow and the Clyde. 'Red Clydeside', a CD written and performed by Alistair Hulett, celebrates its foremost protagonist, John Maclean, and the men and women who contributed to this often neglected period of our history.

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