1. CHRIS THOMAS KING - ANGOLA
On September 1, United States President Donald Trump visited the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, to meet with and praise the police. He did not meet Jacob Blake, a Black man who had been shot and paralysed just days earlier by the Kenosha police. Nor did he meet the families of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, two white Black Lives Matter protesters who were shot dead by 17-year-old white supremacist Kyle Rittenhouse while marching in the streets for Blake. Days later, Trump's son, Donald Trump jnr, dismissed the anger at Rittenhouse, saying: "We all do stupid things at 17." On September 11, blues guitarist Chris Thomas King released his new protest album, which opens with the chants of Black Lives Matter protesters before the musician picks up their mantra and turns it into a searing riff. The album's title, Angola, is taken from Louisiana’s notorious state prison. LISTEN>>>
2. MICKEY GUYTON - BRIDGES
Released the same day was the new album from country singer Mickey Guyton, on which she sings: "If you think we live in the land of the free, you should try to be Black like me." She was one of many country musicians taking a stand with new albums out this month. Tyler Childers challenged his "white rural listeners" to empathise with Black Americans as he released Long Violent History. John Pops Dennie's I've Got Something To Say was partly inspired, he said, by feeling politically isolated in a conservative town. Gasoline Lollipops came out swinging against the failure of capitalism on All The Misery Money Can Buy. Diana Jones backed asylum seekers on her album, Song To A Refugee. Joan Osborne took on Trump and transphobia with "probably the most political record I've ever made", Trouble And Strife. And Neil Young addressed Black Lives Matter on The Times. MORE>>>
3. JK-47 - MADE FOR THIS
On September 13, Australian world champion surfer Tyler Wright took a knee and daubed her surfboard with the words "Black Lives Matter" at the Tweed Coast Pro event in New South Wales. A week earlier, local Aboriginal rapper JK-47, from Tweed Heads, released his incendiary debut album amid multiple protests over Aboriginal deaths in custody. On album opener "Abandoned", the Bundjalung emcee raps: “I don’t think they understand me, I’m taking a stand for all of my family. They don’t care about this land, the government a bunch of bandits, we been abandoned.” On September 11, Rio Tinto's CEO resigned under pressure over the mining company's destruction of a 46,000-year-old sacred Aboriginal site. But a week later, there was scant outrage as Indian mining firm Adani began digging at its colossal Great Barrier Reef-destroying coal mine on Aboriginal land north of Tweed Heads. LISTEN>>>
4. RATKING - ALL BITE
Over in Western Australia, the home of Rio Tinto's destroyed sacred Aboriginal site, nature-loving surfers and technically brilliant thrash metallers Ratking released their new album on September 5. On "National Anthem Redux", their version of Australia's anthem, they growl: "Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free. With hearts of coal and mined out soil, our leaders bleached the sea. They've sold our futures to the mines for profit wealth and greed. If this is what's Australian we need to fucking leave." Ten days later, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the country was finally moving on from his beloved coal - not to renewables, but to climate-destroying gas. The move came as the business press reported that millions of gas wells were being abandoned to leak methane forever, noting that, "If carbon dioxide is a bullet, methane is a bomb." LISTEN>>>
5. WISDOM IN CHAINS & SHARP/SHOCK - SPLIT
On September 7, Australian companies took advantage of an amnesty to return retirement savings they had stolen in the form of unpaid compulsory superannuation contributions. They returned more than half a billion dollars to more than 400,000 workers, but Industry Super Australia chief executive Bernie Dean said: “[We estimate] workers lose $6 billion a year … so the amount reclaimed represents about 10 per cent of the annual unpaid super debt." Four days later, hardcore punk bands Wisdom In Chains and Sharp/Shock released a new split EP, containing the apt song "Ploy In Employment". On the catchy, pop-punk track, Sharp/Shock sing: "The ploy in employment — the joke is on you! The ploy in employment — what can you do?" It came a week after a 46-track hardcore punk compilation album was released to benefit Black Lives Matter. MORE>>>
6. SHARPTOOTH - TRANSITIONAL FORMS
Hardcore punk music was birthed by political activists, but it has drifted dismally far from its progressive roots, said singer Lauren Kashan as she discussed the new album by her hardcore band, Sharptooth, this month. "One of the biggest issues in metalcore and hardcore is aggressive toxic masculinity," she said, citing the common refrain at shows of "no clit in the pit". "There's an abject negativity for the feminine in this scene. I made something calling out all the bullshit... I'm like, do y'all know the roots of your genre at all? ... When they tell us to 'keep the politics out of it', I'm like, you're at a fucking hardcore show. It's like going to a political protest and being like, 'Guys, guys, we just need to calm down and go home' ... As a woman, people have a really big problem if you're outwardly angry or loud or seem argumentative or confrontational." LISTEN>>>
7. IDLES - ULTRA MONO
So where are the male hardcore musicians standing up for women's rights? Look no further than the class war-waging new album from British band Idles, released on September 25. On “Ne Touche Pas Moi", singer Joe Talbot screams: "This is a sawn-off for the cat-callers. This is a pistol for the wolf whistle. 'Cause your body is your body and it belongs to nobody but you. Ne touche pas moi. This is my dance space. Ne touche pas moi. This is your dance space. Consent! Consent! Consent!" Singer Jehnny Beth, who joins him on the song's chorus, said of the band: “They are so comfortable with the feminine side that I fell in love with the type of men they are ... There is very little in society that pushes men, especially white men, to rethink their role, and to evolve and adapt. We rarely have role models like they are.” MORE>>>
8. ASIAN DUB FOUNDATION - ACCESS DENIED
On September 10, a role model for all adults, 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, urged world leaders to consider the world’s poorest people before making decisions on climate policy, tweeting: “Climate crisis could displace 1.2 billion people by 2050." A week later, British junglist stadium rockers Asian Dub Foundation released their rollicking new album, which samples Thunberg on the track "Youthquake Pt 1 – Greta Speaks". It came as wildfires turned California's sky blood red and huge chunks of ice broke free in the Arctic and Antarctica, threatening to raise the world's sea levels and flood the likes of impoverished Bangladesh. Joining the dots, the band held up their usual mirror to British racism, this time sampling comedian Stewart Lee on the track "Coming Over Here" with his stand-up routine on the Anglo Saxons stealing British jobs. LISTEN>>>
9. PUBLIC ENEMY - WHAT YOU GONNA DO WHEN THE GRID GOES DOWN?
On September 23, protests broke out in the US after it was announced that none of the cops involved in the death of Black health worker Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead as she slept, would be charged. Two days later, hip-hop legends Public Enemy released their new album, which name-checks Taylor on the track "Fight The Power: Remix 2020". Citing recent murders of Black people by cops, guest emcee Rapsody raps: "George killed, for twenty. Think about it (think), that's two thousand pennies, the value of black life the cost of goin' to Wendy's, for a four-quarter burger, ended in murder. Fight for Breonna and the pain of her mother. Gotta fight the power." The album, whose title refers to the possibility of the internet being switched off, came days after the Belarusian government used a US company to shut down the country's web servers. LISTEN>>>
10. RHYMETHiNK - ANTI UP VOL. 1 FTP (FOR THE PEOPLE)
Whether a Twitter-addicted narcissist like Trump would ever shut down the internet looked doubtful on September 16. The day before, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden had walked out at an event to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in Florida and said, “I have just one thing to say”, before awkwardly playing the 2017 Latin hit “Despacito” on his phone. Trump repeatedly shared a video meme of the event, which replaced "Despacito" with NWA's single "Fuck Tha Police", to support his false claims that Biden supports defunding the police. On September 22, the business press reported that far from police being defunded, many forces had received increased funding since the campaign to defund them began. Holding out hope for cops being defunded was activist hip-hop collective RHYMETHiNK, with their seething new charity compilation aimed at defunding the police. LISTEN>>>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mat Ward has been writing for Green Left since 2009. He also wrote the book Real Talk: Aboriginal Rappers Talk About Their Music And Country and makes political music. This year, he released a concept album about the media hailed as "edgy, daring and new". You can download the deluxe version free for a limited time here.
Stream our new "Protest albums of 2020" playlist on Spotify here. This replaces the previous "Political albums" playlist, that was getting too big at more than 500 albums.
Read about more political albums here.
Stream Green Left TV's political music playlist here.
The multi-award-winning journalist John Pilger says: "There are few other newspapers — radical or any other kind — that draw together news and analysis that is as well informed, credible, and non-sectarian as Green Left. Its work has influenced mine and has been a beacon to those who believe the press ought to be an agent of the people."