Woman is a Word (2016) – Empress of

Wow, this 8-year-old song I’m hearing for the first time gave me lots of inspiration today. The lyrics are so intellectual and demanding, the way she repeats them emphatically, starting with the assertion, “I’m only an image of what you see.”

The song builds with a delightful steel drum melody and becomes sensual and proudly womanly before transforming into more of a house instrumental. For the second verse, empress begins to chant “I’m only a struggle if I’m in your way”… “But you made the road one-way,” capturing a really common feeling we meet when struggling for justice.

Often, the blame gets shifted to the victims of oppression when they make their everyday struggles known to the people who built the system for themselves. In this song, Empress captures how those who built up the patriarchy made it for themselves then get mad when there’s not room for everyone, just like building a one-way road.

Empress of does a great job with this song, celebrating the struggle against patriarchy.

Manifest – Andrew Bird (2019)

This song and music video feel cathartic, like a breath of reality in the lie we tell ourselves as US citizens. The lyrics are a bit abstract, but it definitely has elements of confronting climate denial, radical politics, and US colonialism.

The name “Manifest” refers to the white supremacist idea of Manifest Destiny that fueled colonialism and genocide in the early days of the US. Hopefully, we can push for a cultural shift that finally dispels that sentiment.

If you enjoy this song, you might like the full album! It’s pretty beautiful and intelligent. It’s been nearly 2 years, and I’m still unpacking some of the lyrics!

Guerra – Residente (2017)

In this stunning music video, the acclaimed globe-trotting musician and activist Residente captures the graphic depravity of war. This video came out around the same time as the mannequin challenge, so it felt like a very poignant comparison being made between the blissful fun lives of western youth and the painful lives of the brown children who suffer as a result of western nations’ histories of plundering.

M.I.A. – Born Free (2010)

This music video is a fucking film. Great perspective from a refugee who herself escaped a civil war and genocide that went under the radar of the west.

This video’s 10 years old now but feels more current than ever with the atrocities the US has been committing at their southern border.