In 2007, revolution was in the air. The destruction of the Great Recession was mounting and eight years of leadership under President George W. Bush had exhausted the United States overseas and at home. Inspiring hope and bringing out a new generation of voters and activists was the candidacy of eventual President Barack Obama.
At 25 years old, I found myself caught up in those energies. I had recently moved back to my hometown in Michigan, making my first "adult" stamp in the world by purchasing a house, by getting my hands into my community, in hopes to be a part of the positive change.
We were fighting for new leadership. We were battling the destructive flames of the economic crisis, of too much war, of too little care for those in need. We were battling other activists who grew from mistrustful positions, where anger and fear held a deeper root than compassion.
The Flobots released Fight With Tools in that time, bringing a message in music befitting the moment. The message was of action, compassion, and hope. Their mixture of hip-hop, rock, and the beauty of the viola was coupled with their message of motion and activism. They met their words with action of their own, creating activist networks and community organizations in their home state and across the nation. Their music was motivation. It was the soundtrack of the revolution, a call not to arms, but to ideas. It was music that made me feel I could take on the world.
And here we are again, though, in many ways, the script seems turned around. In 2007, there seemed a light beyond the darkness, signs of hope on the horizon. This time around, we seem to be heading into the blackened woods, with consequences more grave than before and an ending unsure. But we do not despair. We act.
shake off that rubble, break free from your standstill
More than ever, it becomes important for each of us to step up and act. Though it has always been a constant in my playlist, I've been playing Fight With Tools as much as that original period, the power of music motivating me when I despair, when my energy lags or when my direction is unsure.
stand up, we shall not be moved
And, fittingly, the Flobots are working on a new set of music. The crowd-funded double album NOENEMIES was in the works long before the election, but the release (up in the air, but likely in the early days of the Trump administration) could not be more timely.
The power of art and music is undeniable, through sharing the stories of those different than us and uniting us in a shared chorus. We need art like Fight With Tools. We need the Flobots, now more than ever.
the way that it is is not how it's gonna be