i-D’s SOUNDING OFF issue is about the music we love and the people that make it, but it’s also about the act of creation, the power of activism and how collaboration shapes who we are. Music should inspire and provoke.
It should make us want to dance our socks off, cry our eyes out, and then start a revolution. From politics to mental health, identity to female autonomy, musicians today are more vocal than ever before in discussing the vital issues of our times.
The SOUNDING OFF issue features a provocative and powerful collection of words and images that travels the globe from Glasgow to Ghana, Ireland to Iran and Chicago to China, unearthing the most interesting people in music right here, right now. Arguably the world’s greatest living rhymer, Kendrick Lamar assures us everything really is gonna be alright in a thoughtful and considered interview with New York based cultural commentator Touré. The utterly inimitable Frank Ocean has curated and created an entire section of the magazine that pays homage to the many forward-thinking musicians, performers, and creatives he surrounds himself with.
He also pens a personal note about the power of saying “yes”! Canadian singer and writer Tommy Genesis took time out to write both an essay and a poem in celebration of her first i-D cover, in which she talks candidly about identity, sexuality and her struggle to overcome shyness in an industry that demands the opposite.
What makes each and every one of the people featured in the SOUNDING OFF issue truly unique is that they have something to say – and people are listening. Lil Peep and SZA talk openly and passionately about mental health.
Syd ruminates on her gradual acceptance as a spokesperson, of sorts, for sexual identity. Giggs might be a man of few words, but they hold a lot of power, particularly when he’s talkin’ the hardest about Grenfell or education.
Further afield, Jakarta’s Rich Chigga, aka Brian Imanuel, went from tweeting 24/7 to clocking up millions of views on YouTube. Over in Ghana, Fuse ODG and his friends are enthusiastically introducing their ebullient take on highlife and Afrobeats and quite literally building schools off the back of their success. For many artists in the west, making music is done without fear of safety. In places like Iran, however, to be a musician is a luxury.
From receiving threats to starting a musical revolution, making music as an artist in the Middle East is an inherently political act. We close the issue with a missive from Chicago rapper Vic Mensa. His elegantly potent words on the African-American resistance to symbols of colonisation and servitude dropped into our inbox shortly before going to print.
It is a time of great change in global politics; there is uncertainty and fear, mistrust and frustration. Music will not be able to provide all of the answers. But let’s keep asking questions. Let’s continue to push things forward. We need it. The world needs it.
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