There has often been a debate about if instrumental music, which did not contain any samples of lyrics could be considered political by merit of the music, disregarding the context and environment in which it was made. Is it possible, if so, who has done it? Beethoven is often considered a revolutionary figure in the history of music. He has long been painted as the pivot point between the styles of the Classical period and the Romantics. However, Beethoven’s works can also be more concretely associated with politics and revolutions. During Beethoven’s life, Enlightenment values of social reform, universal education, and the inalienable rights of man had become watchwords. These radical ideals had informed the principles behind the United States’ Declaration of Independence and Constitution. And in 1789 they had finally erupted in the French Revolution with the Storming of the Bastille.
Citizens sought to overthrow complacent monarchies and their supporting nobility and religious hierarchies in favor of representative government and a system that might reward talent rather than circumstances of birth. These kinds of battles were not won overnight, but you will recognize that the ideals behind them are very much a part of our society today.
Beethoven supported these ideals, with instrumental music, which was significantly evident in his third symphony written in 1803. Hence when in 2018, we hear an instrumental piece like “Murder Inc.” by Chuck Daggers being branded as a political statement, we know for sure that it has, can, and is being done.
Daggers wrote “Murder Inc” after being a host DJ at the United Against Hate March and Rally in Los Angeles, CA. Seeing the crowds of protesters voicing their concerns after the Inauguration of Donald Trump inspired Chuck to lend his voice to the cause.
His ‘voice’ as it turns out would be his music, which is just as revolutionary now, as was Beethoven’s music back then. When last have you heard a political statement delivered via a blend of Trap and EDM elements?
But Los Angeles based DJ/Producer Chuck Daggers succeeds in his intent – building a storyline, a mood and a state of being through the use of start and stop percussive rhythms, ominous sound effects, and insistent synth motifs. The result is a soundscape infused with tension, turmoil and agitation, yet with a focused, pinpointed bright lead synth motif that rides the beat throughout.
In fact that bright synth motif cutting through the dark, almost sinister and apocalyptic backdrop, seems to illustrate that it is possible for a voice to break through the noise and make itself heard. The power of music like this is precisely why authoritarian regimes take the trouble to censor or ban it.
“Murder Inc” reflects and articulates our current political tendencies, intentions as well as our utopian dreams –without saying a single word! Therefore it can never be censored or banned. Furthermore, Trump seems even unable to grasp simple speech or writings, can you imagine him locating the significance of the allusive imagery in an instrumental piece like “Murder Inc”?