We vote by mail in Oregon, so my ballot was submitted a while ago.  And, like many, I’m ready for this all to be over so the stupid ads and junk mail and “news” articles cluttering up my internet cease.  Even more than that, I’ll be happy to not have to engage in dialogue with true believer campaigners who are so sure electing their candidate will change everything.  Guess what?  It won’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly one of those anarchists who claims you shouldn’t vote because it “legitimates the system” and is hypocritical, and then parrots an unsourced Emma Goldman quote.  That’s nonsense, and especially so when you live somewhere where there are ballot measures that decide policy put directly to voters.  And it does matter which candidate takes office.  That said, to me it’s important to remember how limited the impact of voting, especially for political offices, actually is.

In a recent article for Spin (“How Political Change Actually Happens”), Boots Riley of The Coup (who I’ll get to below the cut) and Occupy Oakland lays this point out as follows:

If what you want is actual change, then what has to be built is a mass movement that is militant and can use direct action to slow or stop profit. A movement that can do that can demand whatever it wants. Why? Because politicians answer the dictates of the ruling class, the 1%. [Politicians] are merely puppets. If you have a movement that stops a portion of the economic machine, the ruling class will make their puppets dance for you.

None of the changes that we see as great advances in human or civil rights have come by electing the right politician. Social Security, Medicare, Section 8, AFDC, Civil Rights legislation — that all came because there were movements that were using direct action to stop profits; movements that the ruling class was scared would turn revolutionary.

Interestingly, this reminder to question change through voting, reformist liberalism, and the existing socioeconomic system, is often most clearly expressed through music (though music is no substitute for real action, as Boots is always the first to mention).  And there are a number of artists who have recently released (or will soon release) albums with messages to this effect.  Here’s a quick rundown of a few I happen to like (skewing toward indy hip hop since that’s where I’m at right now), and I’d be happy to hear if you have other suggestions in this vein.

Let’s start with Canadians Propagandhi, one of my all-time favorite punk bands who have been around pretty much forever (seriously, like 26 years now, guys?).  Their recent album Failed States, opens with the track “Note to Self,” which you can listen to here:

lyrical excerpt:

No-fly list. No-drive list. No-walk list. No-talk list.

No muckracking journalist left to take stock of . . .

the wholesale omission of outside perspectives.

How does it make you feel to know that you voted for this? [FUCK THIS!]

So much for your hopes and your dreams and your children.

You just sat there believing in this bullshit system.

Just wishing the mob would magically come to its senses.

How does it make you feel to know you just stood by and watched it?

Buy from the band here


Up next is Minnesota rapper P.O.S.  He’s a member of the Doomtree collective and signed as part of the Rhymesayers family.  His new solo release is We Don’t Even Live Here, which had preorders done in collaboration with crimethinc.  The whole record is solid, with standout tracks like “How We Land” (w/ Justin Vernon of Bon Iver) and “They Can’t Come” (w/ Sims), and if anyone were to listen to my advice they’d buy this out of any album here because P.O.S. needs cash for serious medical issues (bum kidneys).  Here’s the first video, which fits the overall post topic, “Fuck Your Stuff”:

and you can listen to the catchy “How We Land” here:

You can pick it up in dead formats here


A few months back I wrote about my discovery of anticon. founding member and rapper Sole’s recent solo workSole‘s been (is) active in Occupy Denver, and his soon-to-be-released album, A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing, which will be officially released on November 11th, reflects on these experiences.  Sole put out an anonymous-styled promo statement prior to the release:

As for the tracks, no actual videos yet, but you can listen to several tracks on Sole’s Soundcloud page (the player isn’t embedding properly, sorry).  So in light of Donald Trump being an idiot recently (as always) in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, here’s a detournement of Mac Miller track from last year:

Preorders of ARCOEE available via soleone.org


Finally, one of my favorite hip hop acts of all time is, no surprise, The Coup. Having evolved over the years into what is now essentially a live funk band with hard-hitting hip hop vocals,  Boots Riley and company’s newest release, Sorry to Bother You, might be their most musically-diverse yet.  There are a number of great tracks (“Strange Arithmetic” and “You are not a Riot” stand out to me), but the first two videos released capture the spirit of the whole release quite well.  The track “The Guillotine,” the video for which pays homage to The Wiz, is flat-out amazing bit of agitprop that I won’t comment further on:

And here’s the opening track, “Magic Clap”:

pick up Sorry to Bother You at Anti- Records


If you dig any of this, please help support the artists in whatever way you think best, but I’d admonish you to always buy stuff directly from bands and indy labels rather than amazon or itunes.

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