Guardian becomes News of the World II – return of the Nawaz

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 And lets take a lesson from Nepal, which this week repealed some of its ‘anti-terror’ laws in the interests of civic freedoms.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..],,1807542,00.html



5 thoughts on “Guardian becomes News of the World II – return of the Nawaz

  1. Don’t fall for the hype…………

    What a week! I cannot pretend that the media frenzy and the results have not amazed me. Thinking out of the “conventional box” of politics was supposed to be a “forte” but it seems for some, that privilege, is reserved and has conditions. Ironically and with great instinct this reality is expressed in the lyrics in “White Tongues”.

    I have had many letters of support for speaking out and a little hate mail which was hilarious. For those that know my work in its entirety know that provoking debate which brings more understanding has always been the foundation and intention. I have no blood under my finger nails!

    It is an absolute fact that the division created between Muslims and non-Muslims stems from the lack of deep and meaningful debate. We have been here many times before and I have participated in many struggles outside the Muslim arena to know this becomes a root cause of frustration and action.

    Today a report came out that was critical of the way Governments have conducted themselves in the current conflicts, I do not see anyone asking them “does that mean you support terrorism? ” because you are against what the State has become or sanctioned. This is what we have talked about for many years.

    I am not interested in competitive politics or in books such as “the art of war”. It is all manipulation and egoism. My concern is to create a chamber where people discuss issues with passion and then resolve. If this helps avoid another atrocity be it by the State or by any individual person then we all gain and enlighten ourselves. Maybe a great and gross naivety on my side but that is my root struggle however I know the branches and leaves are a washed with difficult arguments but something that is achievable.

    The following quotes are fact and not fiction

    “That sort of thing repeated on a daily basis made me understand how people can become suicide bombers. I think if I had to live in that situation – and I say that advisedly – I might just consider becoming one myself.”

    Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Tonge referring to life in the Israeli occupied territories.

    Suicide bombers “felt they had no hope but to blow themselves up”.

    Cherie Blair 18 June, 2002.

    I have not even said anything of the sort other than creatively and musically talk about bombers as a collective yet there is Politicians asking for me to be arrested.

    Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream recently penciled out “poverty” and replaced it with “Israel” in the slogan “makepovertyhistory” .Yet he is still entertained and respected by the music industry with no loss or resignation notices. If I had done the same can you imagine the fury?

    I, for the moment, refuse to talk to the media because it is presenting me with its own sinister agenda and quoting me out of context as well as presenting the album as a few tracks to meet their sensational headlines.

    I urge all people to watch V for Vendetta and then ask the press why they did not come down on this film in the same manner or ask for the director or scriptwriters to be arrested as would be the case with many other films, books, documentaries etc. written about the issues I have addressed in my music.

    Do not believe the hype but do believe that some have exposed themselves as “parasites”, another song on the album, which talks about the politicians and their dogs.

    “These cunning dogs who live on our doorstep feed of our hunger, belong to none of us. These parasite’s, these dogs will reduce you to nothing”



  2. Fun-Da-Mental, All is War

    The year’s most controversial album is audacious, haunting and emphatically not an al-Qaeda recruitment manual, writes Chris Campion

    Sunday July 16, 2006
    The Observer

    All is War has already struck a chord before a note has even been heard. You will no doubt have read that it has a song extolling suicide bombers and another fantasising about the destruction of America by Islam. There have been calls for its maker Aki Nawaz (the mainstay of Fun-Da-Mental) to be arrested in order to prove the effectiveness of the government’s anti-terrorism laws. The tabloids have printed his picture next to that of Osama bin Laden.
    There’s no denying that this is a record explicitly designed to provoke, from the title to its cover (depicting the Statue of Liberty hooded and wired like an Abu Ghraib prisoner) through to the lyrics of songs such as ‘Cookbook DIY’. A single couplet from that track – ‘I’m strapped up, cross my chest bomb belt attached / Deeply satisfied with the plan I hatched’ – kicked up all the kerfuffle in the first place.

    However, the song in its entirety dissects the hate that hate breeds, challenging the listener to enter the mind of three people: a youthful suicide bomber, a renegade academic offering information to the highest bidder and a government scientist paid to come up with new ways to kill. Each motivates the other.

    Strip away the outrage, then, and what’s left is an album pieced together with great consideration. To provoke not just a reaction but thought and debate. The phantasmagoric lyrics of ‘786 All is War’ are a Saracen science fiction of American Armageddon that turn steely Hollywood fantasies of inflexible power and subjugation through technology on their head. There are also haunting laments for the war dead of Afghanistan and Srebrenica (the latter sung in Bosnian).

    Musically, too, it’s audacious and, at times, exhilarating. ‘Bark Like a Dog’ marries Zulu chant with ‘Anarchy in the UK’ guitar and breakbeats. (The title refers to a peaceful protest through joyful noise prevalent in apartheid-era South Africa.) ‘Parasites’ slips from a mournful and redemptive raga into Delta blues. This never feels contrived. Nawaz has a passion for this kind of culture clash.

    He has been consistently producing records like this, some even more extreme, since the early Nineties. Back then he was feted. How times have changed.

    In truth, we’ve been here many times before; musicians scourged by society in order to stifle debate. But the stakes have never been higher. This record has been singled out by those who would goad and cheerlead the government to further erode civil liberties and cow all dissent. Only an abject fool or someone with an agenda would suggest music has the power to incite others to kill. All is War is neither a manual for terrorism nor a jihadi recruitment tool.

    But it is underpinned by a militant faith: a faith in humanity to lance the boil afflicting society and reveal the poison swelling up within. Fear, intolerance, ignorance and self-interest are the hallmarks of Blair’s Britain underneath its thin veneer of civility and morality.

    Along with the predictable fervour that accompanies its release, there will also be those who attempt to disregard All is War through flippancy and sarcasm. But really, these are dire times, musically and politically. Fun-Da-Mental have taken a fearless stand to prove that dissent is an inalienable human right. And for that they should be applauded, not damned.


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