Video

Young Fathers & The Post-Colonial Condition: The Mercury Prize Winners Head To Malawi In Their Unapologetic New Video

Young Fathers bring their unapologetic take on racial identity and post-colonial relations to life in their Malawi-shot video for Old Rock n Roll


In September, Young Fathers touched down on the African continent for the second time in 2015 to headline Malawi’s Lake Of Stars festival in Mangochi. While there, the Scottish/Liberian/Nigerian trio shot a video for White Men Are Black Men Too's “Old Rock n Roll,” a jarring, unapologetic take on racial identity and post-colonial relations:

“I’m tired of playing the good black / I’m tired of having to hold back / I said I’m tired of playing the good black / I’m tired of wearing this hallmark for some evils that happened way back / I’m tired of blaming the white man / His indiscretion don’t betray him / A black man can play him / Some white men are black men too / Niggah to them / A gentleman to you”

The song’s self-directed video sees bandmembers Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and ‘G’ Hastings bring their haywire dance moves to Chipoka, a village in the Central Region of Malawi, where they’re joined by a group of young Malawians and incredible Gule Wamkulu dancers.

A press release explains the making and meaning behind the clip:

“Malawi is famous for being poor. It’s not famous for the psychedelic Gule Wamkulu dancers or the life spirit that emanates from the people. YFs took a camera there when they went to play the Lake of Stars Festival in September. It was always going to be a video for Old Rocknroll, the track on album White Men Are Black Men Too that links the USA to the UK to Africa, the old slave trade triangle, made audio.

Old Rocknroll seems like an angry song. It’s not angry, it’s desperate. A multi-layered attempt to come to terms with preconceptions - what’s expected from a black man in the west. The black man as a cypher for all that nasty shit encapsulated in MAC’s cartoons previously mentioned, but also for the assumptions made by those who expect anger. Spike Lee asked, why can’t I just be a film director? Why does the description always have to have ‘black’ tagged on to it?

What YFs are asking here, why can’t I just be a singer, a performer? Why do I need to be boxed and presented? Just to be, is the greatest freedom.”

In the press release, the group explain that they waited to share the "Old Rock n Roll" video until they had permission from Chipoka Village’s chief–who happens to be a woman.

When the video premiered via The Guardian today, the band shared a statement on “acceptance, cultural appropriation and the lineage of rock’n’roll” that also touches on the current refugee crisis. The message comes on the heels of Young Fathers’ run supporting 57-year-old British rocker Paul Weller:

“In the midst of this UK tour, while Britain First are trying to spawn all over the internet, while politicians and press fight to expectorate the most poisonous, anti-immigrant ignorance, we give you Old Rock’n’Roll, a journey across centuries, bringing it back to Africa, to Malawi, bringing the faces and sounds of humans, migrating, because they are captured or scared or hungry, as they always have done. And we’re saying, it’s alright. In the heart of the Congo, it’s alright.

In the heart of Essex, it’s alright. Don’t be afraid. This country can afford it. If we can afford bombs we can afford blankets and a welcome.

Old Rock’n’Roll. Not what you’ve been told.”

Watch Young Fathers' "Old Rock n Roll" video below. In related news, the Edinburgh trio make an appearance on our just-published roundup of the Top Songs of 2015.

Interview

Angelique Kidjo Writes a Love Letter to 'Mother Nature'

We talk to the Beninese musical icon about assembling her new album on Zoom and the "bigger than COVID-19" threat that lies ahead!

The kind of infectious energy that lives within Angelique Kidjo can't be contained by Zoom. Her zest for life reaches out far beyond any screen, and burns stronger than the fastest internet connection.

"I can't wait until we're in person hugging again," she enthuses soon after joining our Zoom meeting to discuss her latest album Mother Nature. Having been on the receiving end of a hug from the four-time Grammy-winning singer, I know exactly what I'm missing out on. "Me too," I say, as I wrap my arms around my laptop, my face squishing the screen. "No, no," she retorts. "I don't want that. You keep it. I want the real deal," she chuckles, her full-bodied trademark laughter lovingly admonishing me.

The Benin-born musician is preparing to release Mother Nature, a collection of songs reflecting our one Earth, and cementing her status as an African musical icon. Collaborating with the likes of Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi, Burna Boy, Sampa the Great, Shungudzo and more, Kidjo's crossing through time and space, over age and country through Mother Nature's themes and stories. Each track is infused with a vigor that only she possesses — the kind that shares a significant message even as the listener is called to just dance or sing along.

Below, Angelique Kidjo reminisces about making the album, and chats us through her hopes and dreams for it!

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Amapiano Pioneer DJ Stokie Shares His Journey In New Documentary ‘iPiano eSoweto: The DJ Stokie Story’

Pioneering amapiano deejay, Stokie's newly released documentary 'iPiano eSoweto' details his musical journey through his lens and that of friends, peers and fans.