Updated: Dec 6, 2020
"Fast Lava": Riz Ahmed
Album: The Long Goodbye
‘Fast Lava’ is certainly an apt name for this fiery track by rapper, actor and activist, Riz Ahmed. From the outset, the song’s rapid pace generates a sense of intensity, which is exaggerated by the fact that it follows a guest appearance by Mindy Kaling in the form of a voicemail message on the album. This sudden contrast between the soft, slightly muffled voicemail sound and the dynamic drumming at the beginning of ‘Fast Lava’ commands the listener’s attention, and for a reason too- this track has a pressing message. With lyrics addressing colonialism and the hostile environment (‘Who gave you jewellery? / Gave you real food to eat’, ‘Them man frown, panic and wanting me out’), it becomes clear that the song’s frantic energy reflects both Ahmed’s rightful anger in regards to Britain’s exploitative history and the current chaotic realities of life for migrants in the UK. The song’s use of the chimta – a traditional South Asian instrument, which adds a persistent ringing sound – further heightens this established feeling of urgency.
On top of this, Ahmed’s assertively delivered chorus, ‘I spit my truth and it’s brown’, confirms that this track is not only concerned with unapologetically exposing the violent truths of Britain’s past and present, but ultimately about fighting back against the powers that have made them possible.