Album #63: Riz Ahmed – The Long Goodbye

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: London, England
  • Label: Mongrel Records
  • Best Track: Where You From

If someone had told me that by mid-March nobody would’ve been taking about Brexit anymore, I would have been amazed and delighted. In the run-up to the General Election in December, I was imploring people on both sides of the argument to consider that there was lot more to think about than Remain or Leave when voting. Sadly, it’s taken the outbreak of a global pandemic to get people to realise that getting worked up about the shape of fruit and the colour of your passport is pretty silly.

As a white, male, second-generation Brit (my gran was Irish), it’s perhaps easy for me to see Brexit as primarily an annoyance. For someone like rapper and actor Riz Ahmed, a Londoner of British Pakistani origin, it represents isolation, betrayal and fear.

The Long Goodbye, Ahmed’s first album released under his own name, is a clever and moving account of a man falling out of love with Britain. Ahmed personifies the country as a women, with the album telling the story of a break-up. Tracks are punctuated with voicemail messages from friends, helping to set the theme for the track that follows.

I appreciate it more as poetry than as music, although there are bits of the music I enjoy, like the furious jungle beat of ‘Fast Lava’. The hardest-hitting track, however, simply involves Ahmed’s voice on a canvass of silence. ‘Where You From’ is something that compels you to stop, listen, consider and reflect.

The Long Goodbye is a reminder that the worst thing about Brexit is not the potential damage to the economy, which is always up and down and, as the coronavirus shows, is always only one disaster from being fucked. The worst thing is the paranoia people now feel in the country they were born or consider their home, the rise in hate crime against them, the absolute idiots who now think their bigotry and xenophobia are vindicated. I have not heard so much as one supposed benefit of Brexit that makes me think that this is an acceptable by-product of it.

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