We take a look at a track birthed amid the tumultuous year that is 2020…

2020 is a year that will never be forgotten. Political and social tensions have amplified, and we have seen tragedy as the world is facing one of its biggest health care crises.  People with creative art forms have found a way to address and express this – Michael Personne is one of them.

He is a young, black Hip-Hop artist from Birmingham whose latest single “Survival” aims to explain his perspective and experience of the world to listeners. He describes his sound as a combination of “clever lyricism”, and the track’s aim is to challenge the way he is seen by others, marginalised, and in some cases excluded. Although it seems somewhat personal, when listening to the track, you cannot help but think that he is alluding to and addressing bigger issues within the world.

Artist Michael Personne explains his creative process

“Survival” has a backing track that can only be described as a fusion of jazz and R & B, which makes the track easy on the ear, and it is to be a part of a larger project that Michael Personne is releasing in 2021.

The first verse is intriguing:

“Rule number one is adaptation for survival, conformity taught through admiration of our idols. Individualism prohibited for Michael, use of imagination considered suicidal. Authoritarianism designed to control my barbarianism – and those who conform to the norm are considered superior to us all like arayanism.

“You see they see me as a rebel with a cause, with an attitude that the Devil would endorse, a felon just because my cerebellum is divorced from the echoes that are bellowed by their deafening reports.”

The content of the song and the backing track is quite juxtaposing – the lyrics describe passionate and painful experiences, yet the music track, which uses smooth and relaxing instrumentals and sounds, certainly says the opposite. This may be because of the fact that his musical influences include Kendrick Lamar and Lupe Fiasco & SabaI. Musically I believe that the track had more room to grow, such as a change in tempo, flow or instruments – but it still works.

When I listened to this for the first time, it reminded me of the stories of  brutality and discrimination that we have heard this year – such as the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the hundreds of thousands of people  who continuously work to raise awareness and provide change.  Michael Personne perfectly sums this up when he sings:

“In this jungle, the number one aim survival, authorities on the hunt tryna’ aim their rifles. Survival is vital but my life’s at risk – they draw for their rifles, they can’t fight with fists, but I’ll forever endure, I’ll never conform, the raw unedited form is all I’m able to give.”

Fellow artist Davecreates also features on this track, and he seemingly explores this notion of “Survival” from a racial standpoint.

He says: “Look into my iris and you’ll see more than survival… born on the same team but now they pitch us as rivals. Generational cycles, he told me ‘wave your hands’ and now he’s waving his rifle. I push my hands together, father I’m a perfect disciple, life feels like a court case with more haste than taught, but my hand’s on the bible.”

The biblical, political and social metaphors within “Survival” provides a deeper listening experience causing you to think upon things you may have ignored before – almost, like when Jesus taught parables in the Bible.

If you enjoy listening to music that makes you ponder and addresses the current climate – then Michael Personne has penned the perfect track to make you do just that.

The track is available for download on all major music platforms.

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Courtney Carr is a freelance journalist who first began writing for media outlets at age 14, after experiencing and documenting the Tottenham Riots (2011). She is passionate about uncovering hidden stories, championing justice and enjoys singing, dancing and gaming.

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