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Protest Song Of The Week: ‘It’s Up To You (Television Mix)’

Resistance to President Donald Trump’s administration is needed now more than ever, and the resistance to Trump seems to intensify with each grim step the administration takes.

An appropriate track for the moment is a sound collage from Steinski and Mass Media that was released in 1992 called “It’s Up To You (The Television Mix). It is not necessarily a protest tune, but the subversive way in which sampling is employed creates this song that thematically fits a mood of resistance.

Steinski produced the song on the occasion of Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. It features quotes from President George H.W. Bush. His words are re-appropriated to support democracy.

“We are Americans. Americans know power belongs in the hands of people,” Bush declares.

While Bush is clearly referring to Saddam Hussein, quotes like, “Regrettably, we now believe that only force will make him leave,” are directed back at the U.S. government.

Mixed in are quotes from media culture. The character of Howard Beale from the classic film, “Network,” is heard railing against the state of the world.

“It’s the right thing to do. It’s up to you,” repeats through the track. It sounds like it was lifted from a commercial, and Steinski transforms it into a call to action against the president.

The powerful quote from Free Speech Movement leader Mario Savio plays toward the end of the track:

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”

Hearing that mixed in with the beats Steinski weaves together to make this collage is invigorating. A simple hip-hop beat is instantly turned radical.

“It’s the right thing to do. It’s up to you,” seem like simple but appropriate words for citizens at this hour, who should join in demonstrations against Trump wherever and whenever they are happening.

Listen to “It’s Up To You” by Steinski & Mass Media:

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Are you an independent artist who has written and/or produced a protest song that you would like featured? Or do you have a favorite protest song? Submit a song to protestmusic@Shadowproof.com

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."