Protest songs are nothing new, and 2016 saw some great ones (for good reason). From the 30 Days, 30 Songs project to M.I.A.’s AIM, politically-charged tracks are surging into the mainstream. Now the world’s “first virtual hip-hop group” is having their say with their first song since 2011, “Hallelujah Money.” The track features one of last year’s creative geniuses, Benjamin Clementine, in a twisted futuristic sermon clearly commenting on tomorrow’s inauguration.
Clementine’s haunting lyrics and powerful delivery provide a biting analysis of money in politics when placed against the backdrop of a gaudy Trump Tower elevator. Behind Clementine flash images of the Ku Klux Clan, juxtaposed immediately with cartoonish American symbolism; it’s a difficult track, both visually and aurally, but its gravity is undeniable. Even as the music climaxes into dissonance, the video dissolves into animated foolishness, somehow making a two-second clip from Spongebob seem sinister in its absurdity. It’s a very different track from anything on 2011’s The Fall, and it will probably be very different from anything on the album the band is expected to release later this year. But it’s timely, and it makes a statement – even if it’s one not all Americans want to hear.