Music in our message

IssueSeptember - November 2002
Feature by PN staff

AWOL magazine is the product of a “workshop of artists, activists and revolutionaries”.

Started in 2000 and jointly funded by the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors and ROOTS/War Resisters League, AWOL aims to “provide a space for marginalised voices to dialogue to be heard, a place to resist and grow”. The emphasis is on providing an alternative to a dominant culture “saturated with pro-military propaganda”.

In practice the AWOL “project” is a combination of a sporadic 50+ page printed magazine and a website containing excerpts, artwork, contacts and news of forthcoming AWOL events. We have a copy of volume two in the PN office and the free hip-hop CD that comes with it. We think it's pretty cool. We hear rumours that volume three is due out any minute now, but for the meantime let's give you some idea of what kind of material you will find inside the covers of AWOL.

Volume two really had an emphasis on music and radical musicians and included brief statements from all the artists who appear on the accompanying CD, plus an interview with maestro of musical arrangements and long-term artist-activist Michael Franti, reprints of texts by Public Enemy front-man Chuck D, and interviews with various hip-hop collectives. However, they cram a lot in! And many other topics are also looked at, including women in the military, a major critique of “Mr 40 acres and a mule” Spike Lee, street poetry, and a really unpleasant page of real-life quotes from military recruiters. Articles on the Vieques struggle are also prominent with musical contributions from radical Puerto Rican band Ricanstruction

From the tag-style logo and the artwork inside, to the musical content and some of the articles, this mag is obviously being produced by hip-hop aficionados and quite a lot of it is US-specific.

Not all the politics are exactly 100% compatible with an ultra-orthodox pacifist stance either, but taken as a whole it really is well-worth reading and supporting. And wherever you are, if you are into the hip-hop scene, radical black culture, anti-militarism or street art, then it totally rocks!