So, though we heard it first in the guest lecture Aki gave in class at Goldsmiths in Spring term, finally The Guardian found a stupid headline to put above the press release Nation put out to promote the new Fun^da^mental album. Accusing Aki of terror, support for Osama, un-British sentiments and punk sensibilities… you got to read the story for a laugh (click the link at the end).
Aki of course is a past master of provocation (aka Proper-Gandhi gives it away). Yet this strategy, straight out of the Andrew Loog Oldham school of promotional work where ‘no publicity is bad publicity’, is still a risky move. Not least because the Guardian can turn itself into some sort of News of the World style tabloid for a day (the headline itself – G-had and suicide bombers: the rapper who likens Bin Laden to Che Guevara – is particularly stupid but references all the storm in a tea cup fears that surround us today, and manages to tap Che on the shoulder as well. Aki as a rapper rather underplays his diverse activities as impresario of the global juke box over the past 20 years. The photo they chose is also particularly grand. In the print version of this Ladbroke Grove ensemble (the Guardian Unlimited one is slightly cropped) there is an English flag to the right of the picture. The bus in the background on the left is behind a young lad with a backpack – ooooh! significance, July 7 London bomb anniversary next week – and Aki himself is trying to look angry, but you can tell inside he is smirking at the absurdity of this scene.
All that said, its a dangerous strategy as well because the authorities that have the power to do such things just may well get the wrong end of the night stick and actually think this father of four is some sort of threat to the Nation. Well, perhaps he is, and its a good thing too – we all need to threaten a rethink of the dubious policies of Blair and the clones, of the terror war they are waging worldwide, of the domestic demonization of muslims, of the crushing of civil society (what civil society – that its too civil is the problem) and of the stifling numbing dumb dumb dumb of the press. And lets take a lesson from Nepal, which this week repealed some of its ‘anti-terror’ laws in the interests of civic freedoms. Zindabad!
This is just part of a music show – the new replacement for TOTPs perhaps – and we can all see its only a minor power play in an obscure corner of the culture industry, but still Aki Nawaz is just the sort of threat we need much more of, in the sense that we have to debate, discuss, challenge and change – and absolutely none of this requires any heavy handed police interventions, or worse.
[And to the guy on the train who found my comments on this news story interrupted his dumbass reading of Hollinghurst and accused me of being a 'lecturer from Manchester Met' (huh - why would that make me 'a Guardian-reading liberal'). So sorry, but - you mugwump - before trying a bit of push and shove, have a think - you are lucky I did not reckon it worth the a bruise on my forehead to help you sleep. with the fishes..]