Money Hallelujah: Gorillaz in the White House
Words Oisin Fogarty Graveson
“We are still humanz.” The hashtag that lead the emergence of new single from Gorillaz on the eve of the 45th presidential inauguration. Poet Benjamin Clementine looks astutely into the lens: “Here is our tree, that primitively grows. And when you go to bed, Scarecrows from the far east come to eat its tender fruits. And I thought the best way to perfect our tree is by building walls.” This is a hard swing from Gorillaz, both into a new sound and into a new political plain.
Tongue-in cheek yet melancholic, with a definite tint of understanding – Gorillaz dropped their first new song in six years, ‘Hallelujah Money’, on the eve of Donald Trump inauguration into the oval office. Today marks the end of a slapstick electoral process, of Twitter arguments, public apologies, sexual abuse scandals and public demonstration. It also marks the eve of art, and in this case music, once again being a genuine tool for social unrest to make its mark on this shifting world.
Headed by London-born poet Benjamin Clementine, who at the age of 16 (after failing all his GCSEs except English Literature) was rendered homeless and in financial and psychological turmoil. At 19 he relocated to Paris, where he began to busk while sleeping rough. It wasn’t until he was 22 that he was able to record his music when French businessman Lionel Bensemoun approached him at Cannes festival and decided to set up the record label ‘Behind’ to get him studio time.
Spoken from Trump Tower – a depressingly accurate representation of the money = power attitude of the new President.
In 2017, Benjamin, who won the Mercury Prize with his debut record At Least For Now, heads the politically inflamed ‘Hallelujah Money’ from Damon Albarn’s (Blur) Gorillaz. Clementine’s soothing tones but firm gaze both reassures and pities, while the lyrics (penned by Benjamin himself) are spoken from Trump Tower – a depressingly accurate representation of the money = power attitude of America’s new president and so many like him.
But there are two things we can take comfort in from this latest release. The first is that today marks a time when music, and all forms of art, must rise to inspire the disenfranchised in a world led by Trump. And two, there’s a new Gorillaz album on the way this year.