I was spending hours alone with my thoughts, ever since a gang of pirates kidnapped me from a car outside the dusty crossroads town of Galkacyo, in central Somalia, during a reporting trip in 2012. The mystery of this song became an obsession.
Alex Skolnick is a virtuoso musician best known as the lead guitarist for thrash legends Testament and his own jazz trio. When he started weighing in on politics, he was told to “shut up and play your guitar.” In an essay for Newlines, he writes about the responsibility of artists in a time of political turmoil.
Sea shanties provided solace and strength for sailors on merchant ships across the world. Until well into the 20th century, their haunting melodies were sung by Gulf sailors all across the Indian Ocean. Today, they are being rediscovered and adapted as a modern form of cultural expression.
North African rappers and emcees are boldly approaching hip-hop and the larger Arabic music landscape by exploring taboo themes and proactively deconstructing societal markers of North African identity.
Cuba’s dictatorship retained an allure for many on the global left. But this adulation of a totalitarian system is not stopping those facing down Cuba’s dictatorship on a daily basis from keeping the island’s culture and desire for freedom alive.