Cryptically teased on Valentine’s Day, it’s no surprise that actor / rapper Riz Ahmed’s new project is about a relationship – although it isn’t exactly a happy one.
‘The Long Goodbye’ is a nine track exploration of what it means to break up with the country you were born in, framing Britannia (or ‘Britney’) as the abusive partner who changes the locks and tells you to get out, even though you always put more into the relationship than you got out of it. It’s unashamedly political, with opening track ‘The Breakup’ setting the tone with an a capella, spoken word tirade against the ingrained racism and prejudice within the UK.
Follow-up ‘Toba Tek Singh’ (a reference to a city in Pakistan, immortalised in a short story documenting the tragedy of partition of India in 1947) ups the tempo but loses none of the fury. In it, Ahmed highlights the hypocrisy of the UK wanting to deport people whose families fought for it in WWII and helped build the country as we know it today.
The rest of the album follows a similar path, the undercurrent of fury never abating for long. The pacing can get interrupted somewhat by the sheer amount of skits on here, and a Jay Sean featuring ‘Any Day’ slams on the brakes mid-album, but other than that this is a tightly packed, lightning-quick swing at the racism of British society.
Riz Ahmed might now be more famous for his acting, but he’s been making music since he was a teenager – and on this album, it shows. A rallying cry for everyone disgusted at the state of the country today.
Words: Jake Hawkes
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