Not one to turn away from controversy, UK-based producer/rapper/multi-instrumentalist Ali Bla Bla speaks unspoken truths about reality over a heavy hip-hop beat. Influenced greatly by the sounds of the 1990s and 2000s, he brings the intensity of old-school rap and grunge to contemporary society. Add the dynamic guitars and pounding drums, and you have something between Nirvana, Linkin Park and Dizzee Rascal. The latest addition to his provocative discography is the single ‘Island’.
Following on from his singles ‘Problems of Today’ and ‘Speedy Coke’, ‘Island’ is Ali Bla Bla’s first single of 2021. While there is the constant theme of “screw the man” throughout his music, what I find unique is Ali Bla Bla’s evolution of sound. In only a few songs we can hear a plethora of genres showcasing eclecticism, evolution and innovativeness as an artist. I think this can be attributed to Ali Bla Bla being involved at all levels of production from writing to mastering, but it definitely indicates his artistry as, well, an artist.
Unlike ‘Problems of Today’ or ‘Speedy Coke’ that use a more grunge-influenced sound with distorted guitars, ‘Island’ is more upbeat, buoyant and toe-tapping. Yet, do not be fooled by the joviality of the song as it has a deeper, darker and more disturbing side. The harmonic juxtaposition between charming melodies and despairing lyricism may be what makes it so intriguing.
Conceptually reminiscent of Coolio’s ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’, but with a more contemporary and “in your face” melodic element, ‘Island’ touches on the inner truths of current sociopolitical issues, such as Brexit and Black Lives Matter. Using a personal narrative, Ali Bla Bla shares his brusque opinions of social inclusion, racial identity, political opinions but not from the top-down. Hitting the gritty parts of daily life, a story is shared from the bottom-up reviewing everything as the average citizen subjected to life-altering consequences.
Brutally honest with a rawness that can be distressing, ‘Island’ is existential truths laid bare. Ali Bla Bla rakes society over the coals pushing the rhetoric of blatant and sometimes discomforting reality. It’s just a tale from one suffering individual to another about how things really are. The thing is, while there are painful issues being discussed ‘Island’ has an underlying sense of hopefulness for the future. As Ali Bla Bla says, “don’t let sorrow in your heart”.
Side note: Ali Bla Bla released a music video for ‘Island’. You can view it here.