Four Albums That Challenge Trump's America
Artists across the musical spectrum, from theatrical pop to hip-hop to Nashville country, set their troubled thoughts to music in an effort to heal, educate and affect change.
Published Dec 18, 2017For most Americans, patriotism is a default; even internal criticism often comes from a place of "no one hits my little brother but me." But given the terrifying challenges facing the U.S. in 2017, a number of artists put politics first in expressing their concern and dismay.
All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ (Pro Era/Cinematic)
On his sophomore LP All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, Joey Bada$$ channels feelings of helplessness that (many) young adults experience watching present-day far-right politics divide the U.S. For him, finding "his sound" meant assuming the voice for a new wave of change with sophisticated views on race and the need for new government. Riley Wallace
Father John Misty
Pure Comedy (Sub Pop)
Josh Tillman (aka Father John Misty) explores the absurdity of modern-day America throughout Pure Comedy — its shameless commercialism ("Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution"), its hypocrisy ("When the God of Love Returns There'll Be Hell to Pay") and its religious zeal ("Pure Comedy") — then ends it on a hopeful, if resigned note. Stephen Carlick
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
The Nashville Sound (Southeastern)
While respect, decency and selflessness seemed to crumble around him, Jason Isbell tightened his grip on love, hope and empathy on The Nashville Sound. In a year marked by heightening racial tensions, no song stands out more than "White Man's World," in which Isbell pointedly addresses a long tradition of privilege and inequality. Isbell gave country music an album that prodded at America's angry, bleeding sores, yet also reminded good, caring people that those wounds can still heal. Adam Feibel
All American Made (Third Man)
As Margo Price notes on her website, "America is so beautiful… but it's in a really hard spot right now" It's the ethos of All American Made, for which Price penned lyrics that challenge the political, classist and sexist ills that have gripped both her country and the world this year. Calum Slingerland