WORDS : GUGULETHU KAMALO
It’s been 25 years and it’s just as relevant as ever. It’s 1995 Windows has come out with the revolutionary Windows 95 and a young daring band Skunk Anansie, donning the same name as the god of spiders,anansie made popular in west african mythology. In 1995 this album was lauded and acclaimed as pushing the boundaries of rock and ushering in a new sound and aesthetics of rock as the beloved grunge sound began to fade with the advent of Y2k. They released their Paranoid and Sunburnt, was revolutionary and punk in every way possible. Though the band was in their infancy this album truly pioneered call out culture, wokeness and social Justice warriors way before we could do that in 140 characters.
While the punk scene and punk music were lauded and praised as a place where people who cast to the fringes of society could get together and express themselves through clothes, music and art. This scene looked like a safe place for specific types of people defeating its original purpose to unite different people yet it has pushed the descendants of some of the pioneers to the fringes of the alternative music scene.
Skunk Anansie album Paranoid and Sunburnt re-introduced the issues of intersectionality into the space using music, it gave the alternative industry a little bit of a wake up call
While the punk movement did slightly change up and make room for women in all capacities through the riot grrrl movement, they still ignored the elephant in the room of race. Skunk Anansie album Paranoid and Sunburnt re-introduced the issues of intersectionality into the space using music, it gave the alternative industry a little bit of a wake up call. The heavy and classic rock sound of the 90s accomapnied by a loud and powerful voice, Skin classified and described their sound as ‘clit rock’, a less abrasive description of this album can be known as “an amalgam of heavy metal and black feminist rage.”
The content of the album spoke directly to those issues addressing and tackling the under-discussed topics of race, gender and sexuality. Hopping off the riot grrl movement in an angry unapologetic feminist rage in tracks like 100 ways to be a good girl and here I stand, rise up plays out as the perfect song to affirm you.
All in the same breathe they speak on the issues of race, racism and condemning religious righteous
All in the same breathe they speak on the issues of race, racism and condemning religious righteous in tracks such as selling jesus, little baby swasti**a, and intellectualise my blackness. This album explicitly acknowledges that all oppression is linked and it shouldn’t be tolerated. Aside from the angry narrative some of the songs are just amazing songs to listen to with friends such as it takes blood and guts to be this cool
Yet here we are 25 years after an album like this made waves and noise on the scene, critics acclaiming and avowing that this album would change the demographic and most importantly the attitudes of the punk scene. and as this piece is written the alternative scene still manages to only be a safe space for some.
The recent global events triggered by George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmuad Arbey’s deaths has forced the world to truly open their eyes to the injustices that BIPOC’s, members of the lgbt and women have to go through, and slowly but surely it has managed to trickle into the alternative space, where people are not only forced to look inward and confront their role and place in societal issues. Paranoid and Sunburnt was one of those albums that forced people to do that before Twitter brigades and flurries of Facebook petitions.
A quarter century later this album sounds just as amazing, just as raw and just as angry. While there have been strides made to try and “ improve things” there is still a long way to go in creating safe and inclusive spaces in the scene
A quarter century later this album sounds just as amazing, just as raw and just as angry. While there have been strides made to try and “ improve things” there is still a long way to go in creating safe and inclusive spaces in the scene. There have been various uncomfortable and raw conversations happening both on the streets and online especially in the alternative community.
Places like emo nite LA have created a space for black voices and creators to voice opinions and share their experiences in the industry, and popular Youtuber and journalist Yasimine Summan moderated a conversation among female creators of colour in the alternative industry, those conversations need to continue to happen even after “everything has gone back to normal”
Albums like Paranoid and Sunburnt have given birth to a strain of unapologetic feminists and creating spaces that allow conversations like to happen and everyone needs to sit back, listen and learn. It may have taken 25 years, but the prophecies and proclamations of Skunk Anansie’s Paranoid and Sunburnt are coming to light, and the industry is changing faster than ever for the better.