A breakup album, but with your country – Riz Ahmed’s ‘The Long Goodbye’

Fathima Shirin

Riz Ahmed is an Emmy winning British actor and goes by the alias Riz MC when he performs as a rapper. His Post 9/11 blues (2006), Sour Times (2011) and the album Englistan (2016) which features songs like Benaz, demonstrates his social commitment. This new album, ‘The Long Goodbye’ reinstates this dedication.

“This one’s for anyone who’s going through a break up with their country,” says British born Pakistani rapper Riz Ahmed.

“I want to make an album that’s my break-up love letter. I’m going specific with my experience in Britain, but it’s true if you’re Muslim in India, Uyghur in China… It’s true if you’re Mexican in Queens, waiting for ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to knock down your door. This is how it feels [for immigrants] everywhere,” Ahmed told Vogue Britain.

This is Ahmed’s first musical release in two years where he has delivered powerful lyrics on dual identities, colonialism, Islamophobia, but all steered into a letter- a break-up letter.

“I put my roots in their ground/I put my truth in this sound/I spit my truth and it’s brown.”

Ahmed indeed spits the truth and it is undeniably brown. This bitter truth will send chills down the spine and at the same time soothes one with bursts of qawwali, spoken breathers from Mahershala Ali, Yara Shahidi, Hasan Minhaj, etc.

The album features titles like Sadat Hasan Manto’s ‘Toba Tek Singh’ and Allama Iqbal’s ‘Shikwa’ delving inside Indian & Pakistani cultural heroes.

Accompanying the album is also a short film, that follows the life of a British South Asian family as they prepare for a wedding, when a racist gang breaks into their home, drags them into the street and executes them.

Fathima Shirin is an architecture graduate from Srinivas School of Architecture, Karnataka. Shirin writes on architecture, development, and culture.

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