Lowkey Finally Releases The Soundtrack To The Struggle
On the 16th of October 2011 an album was released, the importance of which is, I believe, unsurpassed in the world of hip-hop. The artist is Lowkey – an idol to some, and unknown to the others. The album is Soundtrack to the Struggle.
Soundtrack to the Struggle has, in Lowkey’s own words, been “a quarter century in the making”, and thus the music, the vocal delivery, and the lyrical content’s devastating attack on social and political structures, is the maturation, the ripening, the distillation of a career in which one man has tried to be heard – independently, and without the support of a record-label who, he fears, would stifle his dissenting voice.
The album’s devastating lyrical attack aims its crosshairs at the US’s invasion of the Middle-East, the perpetration of torture and war-crimes by the West, racism, Israel and Palestine, state-sponsored terrorism and many other issues of worldwide injustice. He also delves into more introspective and personal topics such as mental illness, the respect of women and the struggle of being an independent artist. There’s even a track on the album, called Terrorist Part 2, in which he makes an anticipatory defence against the various criticisms that are certain to bombard him as a result of the issues revealed throughout the album.
Whilst there is already a growing trend towards politically conscious rap artists (some of whom are featured on the album), what makes Soundtrack to the Struggle so devastating to the systems that it attacks is just how astonishingly good the music is. Lyrical content aside, this album has provided an answer to something I have long been searching for. As a fan of music across many genres I have always longed for hip-hop that transcends the parameters imposed by genre. Now, Soundtrack to the Struggle has made a very big step towards this with its epic use of strings, choirs, guitars, horns, synths and orchestral percussion, along with a huge variety of vocal styles from a selection of guest singers and rappers, as well as influences from a range of musical genres from across the world. Despite its dynamic range of influences, the album manages to retain a strong sense of cohesion and structure. All this is supported and enhanced by its very impressive production. From the elegiac poignancy of Haunted with its washy dreamscapes, to the epic call-to-arms that is Blood, Sweat and Tears or Million Man March, to the summery and celebratory sound of Too Much, the production continuously provides as much musical interest as Lowkey does lyrical interest. And, perhaps most importantly, what Lowkey has very intelligently done is to make sure that almost every track is insanely catchy, giving the messages contained within the lyrics the legs to spread and to stick.
Since the release of Soundtrack to the Struggle, I have been so exciting about its success, and the implications of this success. The hip-hop world has been abuzz with anticipation for some time, but now it seems that Lowkey is erupting into the mainstream to some degree. The album has received BBC radio-time and had amazing success on Amazon and iTunes, and even sat on top of an Eminem release in charts. And, with a media buzz, various gig-dates around the country, singles and many videos (produced by the excellent GlobalFaction outfit), it looks like Lowkey’s music is finally reaching a mass audience. And, more important, so are the topic’s that the album touches on; topics that I hope educate, inspire, and deeply touch every single listener, as they become the soundtrack to their — our – struggle for a better future.
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