Friday Nite Spotlight: Thievery Corporation – Radio Retaliation

by Michele Myers

This morning I passed a construction worker wearing a hardhat that was decorated with the American flag. And it got me to thinking… With the election of Barack Obama, the first African-American president, the meaning of the flag has changed.

I don’t know what Mr. Construction Worker is saying with his hat, but I know my reaction to his hat is way different than it would have been a few weeks ago.

For the last 8 years, seeing the flag has been a disappointment. Because of the actions of George Bush and his crew, it’s been embarrassing to travel the world as an American. My country has done so many things I disagree with, including waging war for oil, selling out the environment to the sale of SUVs (among other things) and the persistent attitude from the powers that were that dictated the fact that women, people of color and homosexuals will never be a big part of our governing body.

This has all changed now, with the fact that the majority of our people have voted for Obama. This shocks and pleases me. I am finally proud to be a part of the country and I even have begun to like seeing the American Flag. It now stands for diversity, a new chance for equality and for (dare I say) integrity even. Do the colors seem brighter even? More true? Or is it just me?

The 2008 release from DC band Thievery Corporation is like the flag in this instance. It comes across differently post-election. It came out this year, when things still looked doomed. And its political flavor, its take of “cynicism with a dash of hope” has now changed to “hope with a dash of cynicism.” Listening to it prior to the election it sounded like a cry for help. Now it sounds like an anthem to action.

This opening track is “Sound the Alarm.” Post-election it is more wake-up call than air-raid siren.

Thievery Corporation the duo you see in the above video — made up of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton. They are the masters of the project, and they could easily ride on their lush loops and samples and just play by themselves. But this duo bring in live musicians from all over the world, adding African and Latin percussion, reggae singers and live bass, Brazilian and Spanish female vocalists, Indian Sitar players and more.

Their example says: invite other cultures, embrace the differences and benefit from them.

Here’s to a new country, and a new soundtrack.

DJ Michele Myers hosts Nite Life on KEXP Friday Nights at 9pm. Every week she chooses an album and features it at midnight. Michele also produces KEXP Documentaries and is a host for Wake Up — Tuesdays and Thursdays 6-9am — on WNYE in New York City.

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One Comment

  1. Posted December 9, 2008 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    Hey Michele, that was a great Nite Life show Friday. I too think it will be interesting to see how poltically charged albums like Thievery Corporation’s will be remembered in the coming years. I don’t think we can entirely blame the government for years of environmental abuse though. People need to reform their attitude towards the environment just as much as the government. If the entire nation took small steps like carpooling, reducing power consumption at home, and recycling it would have much greater impact than an administration change.

    Looking forward to the show this week!

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