|Not angry, just frustrated Photo: Rooners/Flickr|
What do you do when you’re having a frustrating time of it at work? Perhaps you reach for an extra beer in the evening. But what if that’s not enough? Where do you and your sense of righteous indignation go next? Well, if you’re an ever so slightly sad music fan like me a good option can be to dig deep into your collection for some tunes that speak to your situation and maybe even give you some encouragement to keep on keeping on.
To paraphrase everyone’s favourite Canadian poet, and in no particular order, here are my songs of anger and hate.
Today I imagine I feel a bit like The Godfather felt when he recorded this stone-cold funk classic. James evokes that feeling of discovering people are against you and the desire to remedy the situation. Not that I’m recommending his direct methods, of course.
2. Gang Starr – All 4 Tha Ca$h
The later GURU had a way with words and, combined with the both heavy and incredibly hooky beats by the legendary DJ Premier, he weaves a rich story of various underhand and unsavoury dealings. From the opening drum fill track reminds what hip-hop at its best can communicate to the world.
3. Cypress Hill – How I Could Just Kill A Man
Again, not a song for the feint of heart and those easily offended by unvarnished language. Lifted from Cypress Hill’s eponymous long player, How I Could Just Kill A Man immerses you in the world of LA gang-life. By the end of the track hopefully you will understand but certainly not condone the protagonist’s point of view.
4. Jay-Z- Takeover
Where do you draw the line between anger and revenge. At the time this track was released Jay-Z was locked in a bitter war of words with the other great contender for the title of King of New York, Nas. Jay-Z goes a long way to destroying Nas’ credibility on this track. If you listen carefully you can hear The Doors Five To One.
5. Public Enemy – Black Steel In The Hour of Chaos
There’s so many things I could write about Public Enemy but for the purposes of this post I’ll stick to the way Chuck D manages to convert anger at a racist establishment (for all you pseuds out there, I think the prison system is a metaphor for wider society) away from the gangster rap nihilism of NWA et al into a determination to create a fair and just society. The Bomb Squad’s sample-laced production is also awesome, from the looped piano of Isaac Heyes you just know this track is going to be a classic.
6. MC5 – The American Rouse
Hip-Hop’s not got a monopoly on anger, you know? The MC5 came out of Detroit at the time Motor City was burning. This track adopts a somewhat dryer and less direct tone than some of the other angry tracks I’ve selected but it nonetheless does a great job of rallying against the establishment. Not to be confused with McFly’s stellar output.
7. Wu-Tang Clan – Protect Ya Neck
There’s something great about the frenetic energy of the Wu-Tang’s first-ever single. Before the solo careers and the ego-clashes got in the way, here the original line-up of the Wu-Tang unleash round after round of stinging MC fisticuffs. At the very least this track should have been called watch out for whiplash.
8. Beastie Boys – Sabotage
I still can’t believe MCA is no longer with us. This song and its driving fuzz bass is a fitting legacy. Ad-Rock’s delivery perfectly captures that sense of knowing things aren’t all good.
9. James Brown – Talkin Loud (And Saying Nothing)
Another James Brown classic. This time James calls out the haters with the classic line of Talking Loud (And Saying Nothing). If you are feeling aggrieved and maybe even a little righteous, this is the track for you. Worth checking also for the ridiculously tight musical backing featuring no less than Bootsy Collins on bass.
10. Dr Dre – Still D.R.E.
In this song Dr Dre (I’m not sure he’s a real Doctor but I’ll let that one go for now) calls out everyone and anyone who he believes has ever slighted him. Notable for the return of Snoop Dogg after several years in the musical wilderness. Please note I am in no way condoning the rampant sexism and super-charged machismo prevalent throughout this video. It is a catchy song, mind….
Over To You
What do you think of choices? Do you think the songs above do justice to your anger and frustration? I’m quite surprised how many of my choices stem from the hip-hop and funk genres. don’t know whether these genres are particularly good at capturing visceral anger or whether my selection reflects the biases of my music collection. Have I overlooked angry classics in other genres? Or maybe you think anger is over-rated as an emotion and I should be looking to come to terms with my anger through a mellower tune or three? If so, feel free to recommend songs I can reach for. Oh, and I promise to be on better form for my next post.