TWAILR Mixtape: ‘I sing the song of the colony’

Music and its arts of song, dance and ritual – as Fanon put it – precede and shape any political struggle: we ‘sense and feel in these arts the pulse of a free stimulus and the coming combat’. Since the advent of electrical recording in the early 20th century, music-playing machines around the world have been, as Adorno recognised they would be, a ‘proletarian loudspeaker’. With that in mind, we are happy to use the ‘TWAILR: Extra’ space on our website to share playlists compiled by our readers and contributors – of any music broadly, explicitly or obliquely related to the politics and sensibilities of anti-imperialism, to third world approaches to international law, to global or local struggles for economic, ecological, racial and gender justice (and which of course does not promote abuse or bigotry). Obviously any collection of songs will reflect to a greater or lesser degree the geographic and linguistic horizons of the collector, and since we’d aim to limit each playlist to around 15-20 tracks, the idea is for it to simply be a sample of tastes and inspirations, rather than any comprehensive curation. But we would love to hear and share what our friends and readers around the world are listening to (or drawing on in your teaching or writing) – please send us your playlists.

image above: Nizar Hassan / نزار حسن / ‘From Beirut’s walls to global neoliberalism’ / @Nizhsn

TWAILR Mixtape: ‘I sing the song of the colony
(compiled by John Reynolds)


Prologue: Lauryn Hill x Frantz Fanon – Concerning Violence
‘In the colonies, the economic substructure is also a superstructure’

1. A Tribe Called Red – We Are the Halluci Nation
‘The callers of names cannot see us, but we can see them’

2. Ana Tijoux – Somos Sur
‘Esto no es utopía, es alegre rebeldía del baile de los que sobran, de la danza tuya y mía’

3. Seun Kuti – IMF (John Reynolds remix)
‘Dem go pollute our land and call am foreign investment, international mother shut your mouth’

[I had a reference to this song in an article in Third World Quarterly a few years ago. Babatunde already put it in his playlist but I didn’t want to take it out of mine, so I’m including the remix by (another!) John Reynolds ]

4. Orchestra Baobab – Cabral
‘Cabral, Cabral, Cabral…’

5. Burning Spear – Free Black People
‘Real free’

6. Linton Kwesi Johnson – It Dread Inna Inglan
‘noh mattah wat dey say, come wat may, we are here to stay’

7. Asian Dub Foundation – Fortress Europe
‘Keep banging on the wall of fortress europe’

8. M.I.A. – Borders
‘Your privilege – what’s up with that? Broke people – what’s up with that? Boat people – what’s up with that?’

9. Rusangano Family – Heathrow
‘This is where history finds us, our history binds us: no blacks, no dogs, no Irish’

10. Ramallah Underground – Sijen ib Sijen
‘We must act, not stare at a screen’

11. Shadia Mansour – Al Kufiyyeh 3Arabeyyeh
‘The kuffiyeh ain’t no scarf it’s the heart of the movement’

12. DAM – Jasadik-Hom (Your Body of Theirs) – جسدكهم
‘Even in the struggle my responsibilities are twice yours’

13. Boikutt (Ramallah Underground) – Amputate [ft. The Unpeople]
‘Amputate that invisible hand’

14. Muqata’a x Oum Kalthoum – Khaleeni A’eesh

[Muqata’a – formerly Boikutt, founding member of Ramallah Underground – has more recently been pushing boundaries with experimental and instrumental hip-hop albums]

15. The Specials – War Crimes
‘Can you hear them crying in the rubble of Beirut?’

16. Antibalas – Who is This America Dem Speak of Today?
‘Is it Indigenous America? One who first come live here?’

17. Ana Tijoux – Antipatriarca
‘No sumisa ni obediente, mujer fuerte insurgente’

18. Damien Dempsey – Colony
‘I sing the song of the colony..’

19. Burna Boy – Another Story (ft. M.anifest)
‘Since 1960 them dey play us, why o? … the Niger Company is still around today – only it is known by a different name, Unilever. But that’s another story’

20. Gil Scott Heron – Black History / The World
‘You could just appoint people to make everything legal, to sanction the trickery and greed’

21. Workers’ Party of Jamaica In-House Reggae Group – The Internationale
‘Proletarians, come rally’

22. Nina Simone – Four Women
‘My back is strong’

23. Charles Mingus – Haitian Fight Song

Mingus said: ‘This could just as well be called Afro-American Fight Song. It has a folk spirit, the kind of folk music I’ve always heard anyway. … My solo in it is a deeply concentrated one. I can’t play it right unless I’m thinking about prejudice and hate and persecution, and how unfair it is. There’s sadness and cries in it, but also determination.’  

Epilogue: Rafeef Ziadeh – We Teach Life
‘We teach life, sir’


Full playlist also available on youtube, and partial version (not all songs available there) on spotify.