Politik Kills – Manu Chao

What Manu Chao thinks about politics.

José Manuel Arturo Tomás Chao Ortega, known as singer and songwriter Manu Chao, was born in France in 1961 from Spanish parents who were forced to leave their origin country to escape the fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

Chao grew up in the suburbs of Paris, in a house often visited by refugees from different parts of the world, especially South America, an experience that allowed him to know first-hand the conditions of migrants and displaced people. The topic of illegal immigrants, clandestino, was very close to his heart. Manu Chao, in fact, gaine the favor of the public thanks to his first album Clandestino (1998), and later, also due to the political context of the time the album was released, he became the spokesperson for a generation who grew up in a globalized world.

After already being known in the Parisian music scene for his talent as a young artist, he formed the band Mano Negra with  his brother Antoine Chao and their cousin Santiago Casariego. Mano Negra is known for having coined the word  Patchanka to describe their music genre, made of a mix of different styles, from punk, ska, reggae, rock, funk, rap and more, and was used as the title of their first album. The word, whose etymology is still not clear, can be translated into chaos, mix, melting pot and it doesn’t refer only to the sounds and rhythms, but also to the different languages used in the songs.

Chao’s solo career began few years after Mano Negra split up in 1995 and was characterized by a huge success, not only on a musical level but also on a political one, as he became the symbol of some political associations run by young people around the world. He is called the Bob Dylan of Latin America and he sings in Spanish, Galician, French, Arabic, Portuguese, Italian, English, and Wolof. The latter is a language of Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania, and is the native language of the Wolof people.   

His anti-globalisation position during the 2011 G8 held in Genoa, Italy, sadly famous for the police assault on peaceful demonstrators, made his music the symbol of that international event.

The most famous album was his first, Clandestino, that sold around 5 million copies and that speaks about “problems of borders, and more and more hermetic borders all around the world” as Manu Chao told BBC World Service.

The song “Politik Kills” is the third single from Chao’s last album “La Radiolina“, released in 2007. The focus of the song is reflected quite obviously in the lyrics. Politics is seen as a disease that only brings destruction, and the song might also be a provocation to the political elite that feeds on violence, drug, wars, ignorance and a bad economy. The song also brings an attention to the scary paradox for which politics needs people to exist. It is a scary vicious circle, reflected in the repetitive lyrics and unchanging sound.

Manu Chao makes these hard topics accessible through his music, apparently friendly and happy if one does not look into the lyrics.

Politik kills politik kills politik kills
Politik kills politik kills politik kills
Politik kills politik kills politik kills
Politik need votes
Politik needs your mind
Politik needs human beings
Politik need lies

That’s what my friend is an evidence politik is violence
What my friend is a evidence politik is violence

Politik kills politik kills politik kills
Politik kills politik kills politik kills

Politik use drugs
Politik use bombs
Politik need torpedoes
Politik needs blood
That’s what my friend is an evidence politik is violence
What my friend is a evidence politik is violence

Politik need force poltik need cries
Politik need ignorance politik need lies

Politik kills politik kills politik kills
Politik kills politik kills politik kills
Politik kills politik kills politik kills

Politik kills politik kills
Politik kills politik kills

Politik need force poltik need cries
Politik need ignorance politik need lies

Politik need force poltik need cries
Politik need ignorance politik need lies

Politik kills politik kills
Politik kills politik kills

Categories
Sounds from the Bucket
Francesca Aloisio

Francesca is both an International Relations graduate and a dancer living in Rome. She is particularly interested in international issues, intercultural learning and culture sharing, as well as music and arts. She is currently a consultant for the UN agency IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) in the communication division.
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