Sunny Ali and the Kid Texistan shirt
Photo by: Naima Sioux
"Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian’s studio portraits inspired by early images from the Qajar dynasty (1794–1925); she juxtaposes the past with the present: a modern woman in traditional hijab hoisting a boombox over her shoulder."
1st pic I took when I was in Pakistan.
Had the pleasure of jammin with home girl Areeb Kishwar Usmani on the back of a bus outside of a wedding in Lahore. She did a great cover of the classic “Teri Deewani” some of y’all might recognize. Find her on twitter @3areebz and soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/areeb-kishwar-usmani Support female Pakistani Musicians.
Riot police using tear gas against an unidentified woman in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on May 28. 2013.
Playing next to expensive paintings n shit #kominas
"We’re The Kominas. Hi."
By Torie Rose DeGhett, who writes freelance about politics and music, and is a contributing arts writer at Aslan Media. (And is also one of Somersault’s two editors.)
“Sharia laaaawwww…” The opening track on The Kominas’ debut album Wild Nights in Guantánamo Bay hits hard at anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States, a surreal flash of satire that pounds through your ears. The Kominas pull off being both alienating and alluring at the same time. They have incredible musical talent and lyrics that are harsh and gleeful, but well-chosen. ”Sharia Law in the U.S.A” mocks and ridicules profiling and institutional Islamophobia, jabbing at the radicalizing nature of security measures:
Cops chased me out of my mother’s womb
My crib was in state pen before age two
The cops had bugged my red toy phone
So I devised a plan for heads to roll…
Being Muslim in the US in the twenty-first century has meant an unrelenting scrutiny, a patchwork of stereotype and profiling including the ignorance of public assumption and the direct attack of authorities.
Challenging Islamophobia is a core tenet of the band’s musical purpose. They aim to overturn assumptions about Muslims, and impugn the legitimacy of institutional anti-Muslim sentiment in the US. Guitarist Sunny Ali says “We used the media’s Islamophobia to get attention the same way they used us and continue to use Islam for their headlines. We are also tapping into people’s stereotypes and turning it around on them for our own benefit. Turning a minus into a plus.”
Addressing the world’s myriad minuses with a punchy, invasive musical style has been a theme of theirs since the band’s beginning. (It should be noted that the current membership of the band has undergone lots of shifts since The Kominas started playing.) Among the songs on Wild Nights, their first full-length album, is “Rumi Was a Homo (But Wahhaj is a Fag),” written in response to homophobic comments by Imam Siraj Wahhaj. The logic of using such a slur to hit back at someone for being homophobic is an obvious question, but The Kominas (whose name roughly translates as “the bastards” or “the scumbags”) often make their way on insults and contrarian juxtapositions. This is the same band that sings “I want a handjob” in virtually the same breath as “Subhanallah (Glorious is Allah).” The lyrics from “Rumi Was a Homo,” “Conventional opinion is the ruin of souls/Bhai-jaan it’s my prose I can’t control,” feels like one of the best descriptions of the band itself and its members, using their witty, sarcastic lyrics to escape the ruination of conventionality.
The punk-meets-bhangra mix of sound that The Kominas produce is a jumble, each song shifting up the pace and the tone. Soundwise, they have a great deal of unpredictability. The changes from album to album might come from the membership changes the band has gone through since they first got in people’s faces by calling Rumi a homo, but from song to song they shift up, varying sounds and styles from jarring to smooth. When reached by email, Sunny Ali says that their musical influences are many and ever-changing, starting with a foundational mix of punk, hip-hop and Bollywood and moving on to the “endless crate” that is YouTube, which offers up everything from reggae to psychedelic African rock. It’s the lyrics that make a song one by The Kominas. Sunny Ali notes that in the process of writing, “the lyrics are usually what turns it into an actual song.”
Barrack Hussein Somroo (Sindhi Obama!)