The poet Mayakovsky said, “Art is not a mirror to reflect the world but a hammer with which to shape it.” And it should be, despite the fact that artists and the public suffer from a certain laziness and reticence to declare and welcome political opinions when they cross with aesthetic rapture, critical distrust, and the legitimate search for original work. However, in that kind of art, popular music, maybe for its immediacy, for its ability to penetrate society and the ease with which it unleashes emotions and lasting collective experiences- trusting the rumor that says that only some songs last from a generation, as the most powerful memory- politics are present, as a declaration about the will to resist in the face of social events. Music is a consequence of relations of power, a rapid response to the social ecosystem that feeds it. In these spaces occupied by distinct “symbolic groups,” music has generated resistance or subcultures, trends, and a market capable of appropriating even the political in its own capitalist interest. But despite this, conflicts, artistic deviations, risks, and the will to protest have lasted. And all of it, usually, contained in a song just 4 minutes long that’s able to explain the world.
Music against power is fed by all of this and by the impertinent freedom of a musician to express a political opinion, such as the rejection and denunciation of the ploys of hegemonic capitalism- that which constructs racism, colonialism, poverty, war, capitalism, sexism, immigration, and, above all, ideology. It’s music with origins as diverse as the places that we inhabit, in which some musicians choose to dig into the tensions of social conflicts, taking sides and resolving to testify to narrate the other story that those in power decided not to tell. It’s brave music, removed from or avoiding the market, almost always rooted in the ghettos and slums, exposed to utopia, to collective construction, and to the strange peculiarities that talent fosters. It’s a multitude of songs and musicians that made the decision to confront economic and political power and not wait around. Pushed on by current events and knowing that it will never be able to change governments and economic systems by itself, but that it will raise awareness that, one day, will help to do just that. With just the impetus of its songs.