Art lends itself to highlighting the problems in the wider world, be they social, political or cultural and nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in music. While protest songs are generally seen being played by bearded men around campfires with their ukelele's, or adorning the stages of densely wooded festivals, a new collaboration between Street Child World Cup and Hospital Records has all the makings of the best sort of protest music.
For those who don't know the project, in the run up to Rio 2014, global organisation Street Child World Cup will be inviting street children from 5 continents for a 10 day football based conference, seeking to highlight and protect some of the most vulnerable in our societies. They approached Hospital Records to join in a unique collaboration, featuring label boss London Elektricity, Brazilian stalwart S.P.Y. and long time vocal contributor Diane Charlemagne, and with the help of a 75 strong school choir from Brixton, remixes from S.P.Y, Lung and Nu:Tone created an absolutely cracking tune, entitled I Am Somebody
All proceeds from the music are going directly to support the Street Child World Cup project and the song has been made the official anthem of the event. It tackles a worthy cause and giving a voice to a number estimated by Unicef at in the 'tens of millions', a statistic that is truly shocking. The highest estimates place the number at near 100 million, that's 1 in every 70 people in the world, and far more than the population of the UK. In highlighting this blight upon the claims of us being a civilized global society and in it's own small way, contributing to improve the lives of the most vulnerable for the better, I Am Somebody is a fantastic piece of art. What makes it even better is that the song itself is fantastic.
Opening gently on an acoustic guitar and whistle riff, the tune gradually builds, introducing the gang vocals of the chorus and dropping into a set of trademark liquid beats. Diane Charlemagne's vocals wash over the instrumentals, almost vulnerable and packed with emotion, and as the tune develops, it breaks down, reintroducing various themes and segments. The melodies, recreated through voices, synths, guitars and whistles are the driving force behind the track, with the percussive elements a bed they can spring from. It's almost unusual for a Drum & Bass track to place so much emphasis on the voice but this theme, of a voice is what makes the song so poignant for it's purpose.
S.P.Y's remix brings out a new vitality in the track, still reliant on the vocals but using them as part of the beat as much as anything and making the song more anthemic, perhaps even orchestral. The approach by Nu:Tone is darker, fitting his trademark style and hitting you with deep, pulsing basslines but maintaining the groove of the original. Lung's, with it's skittish opening beats introduces new melodic elements and subtle textures that seem to reflect on the original while taking it a new direction.
I'd normally ask you to listen for yourself and decide, but given the nature of the cause and the selfless work of the guys at Hospital Records, even if drum and bass isn't your cup of tea, you should still get this! Plus it's a really good tune!
The single and remixes can be bought from here: I Am Somebody
Please also check out the Street Child Word Cup.