Friday, December 9th, 2016

Swet Shop Boys – T5

Ada brings us the woes of being a brown person in airport security.


Thomas Inskeep: On “T5,” producer Redinho does one of the best jobs marrying South Indian and Western influences that I’ve heard since the work Diplo did on M.I.A.’s first album, and Heems and Riz MC are both nimble rappers and clever lyricists. Their subject matter — the problems Western Muslims face when flying (“T5” refers to “terminal 5”) — couldn’t be more important or vital at this moment, which makes this a must-listen. Fortunately, it’s also a great record on its own merits. Alongside albums by A Tribe Called Quest and A Tribe Called Red, this is the political music we so desperately need right now.

Ryo Miyauchi: Clunky hook, but the message is clear: Heems and Riz fly out as stars but return as suspected criminals. While I appreciate Riz’s spiel calling out hypocrisy by citing history texts, Heems’ one-liner about his dad on the nation’s hitlist delivers it home for me.

Alfred Soto: Shenai, programmed plonks, and Heems channeling the Beastie Boys intonations because the TSA wants to burst his bubble. “I’m so fly, bitch/But I’m on a no fly list” is a corny-ass complaint because it’s true and untrue. Heems and Riz MC think they’re so fly that they can make the dollar and a half production sound like six figures.

Anthony Easton: This is so fucking smart, so dense, so wise, and often very very funny. The double language puns have a cosmopolitan anger–but an anger that is wryly effective–add the muezzin sounds, and it becomes both a reclaiming of orientalism and a satire of western hipness, which still doesn’t understand the thousand year history of Islamic movement. 

Ramzi Awn: It’s not seamless but it’s not ordinary either, and that’s a good thing. Still, the spit borders on contrived. 

Iain Mew: Riz Ahmed’s essay on airport security, acting and racist stereotyping is one of the highlights of the all-around excellent collection The Good Immigrant. “T5” can’t cover anything like the same amount of ground even when he and Heems stay on topic, but they’re funny and pointed either way, and its Shampoo interpolation certainly gets to the same crux of absurdity and constriction melting into each other.

Brad Shoup: Riz does his best Kendrick, both men do their best Shampoo, and a sharp tongue-flick of an album opener — slow strut on an aerophonic signal — takes on new meaning now that America’s president-elect is even more of a white supremacist than is usually entrenched. Here’s hoping they stunt on his grave.

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One Response to “Swet Shop Boys – T5”

  1. Have we covered Riz’s solo work? I thought about nominating “Englistan” for one of the leftover spots in Amnesty Week; I think it’s a better song than “T5”, though Heems is probably more well-known than Riz.