Music and politics, when combined can make quite a powerful comradery. American Canadian singer and songwriter Jordon Edward Benjamin, also known as Grandson, is the perfect example of this and his latest album, ‘a modern tragedy vol. 2’ is no different. The album is categorised as alternative rock, trap music, alternative hip-hop and electronic music. But fundamentally, Grandson is using his music as a pawn to convey a concise, blunt and powerful commentary on politics and reality.
Especially as a common conjecture often associated with his music is that Trump managed to infamously inspire a lot of his songs. As light googling reveals that Grandson’s first musical endeavour coincided with Donald Trump taking office in 2017.
The lyrics in ‘a modern tragedy vol.2’ convey subtle-to-bold observations on the colossal damage and global consequences certain political advances seem to be having.
The album begins with the only single from the EP, ‘Apologize.’ This song serves well as a single because it consists of original riffs and catchy lyrics that manage to set the tone for the entire album and Grandson as an artist.
He says: “And I don’t know where I’m gonna go – But I don’t care, I’m on the road – Never been a perfect soul – But I will not apologize.”
The lyrics convey his aversion towards the modern-day answer to escapism because the song begins with “I lose a bit of myself with every selfie.”
The songs hint towards a temporary reality and how society is slowly becoming fickle. “Finding a new religion on Yelp to come help me” and, “She say she love me at dusk, but at dawn – I pack up my things and I’m gone.”
Grandson thinks people are detaching themselves from reality, to live on social media and are refusing to apologize for it.
‘Stigmata’ is the second track on the album, and it represents danger.
Musically this is Grandson’s most technical track because he has produced a beat that is trying to convey a sense of urgent chaos to the listener throughout the song.
The entire song is a metaphor about society, he is hinting towards the idea that you have to sell your soul to fit into modern-day society. An example of this is shown in the lyric: “They put a hole in the -Back of my head, – Called it suicide -Woke up with these holes – In my hands from the day- I was crucified.” The holes in his hand may represent the day he understood how society works.
Finally, when you hear; “Don’t buy all the lies they sell – When the Black Hawk flies, – Heading right for the hills” he might be talking about Capitalism.
The third song is called ‘Is this what you wanted.’ This song has a soft and consistent beat that hints towards the mundan anarchy that everyone has desensitised themselves to. The lyrics say; ‘I turn on the news and people are in cages’ and ‘We don’t care, we don’t mind, pretend everything is awesome, while the world burns outside.’
The song uses alternative riffs in the chorus of the song and poses the question “Is this what you wanted – We get drunk, – we get high – We talk pills until the morning.”
The next song is called ‘Fallin (Temptation)’ and has a strong hip-hop influence. The first 12 seconds of this song consist of a unnerving and dubious sound before Grandson starts rapping.
The chorus of this song is vague, but the lyrics depict common fears and abrupt statements that a lot of people refuse to address. For example, the song begins with the lyrics: “They told me the point – was to get it – But nobody told me – What does it do if I got it – Chasing the high.” He continues: “All this self-loathing I foster – Mirror reflects an imposter – Swipe up and go through the motion – Obsessively posting.”
Fundamentally, the song refuses to give answers but manages to provide the reader with a depiction of our modern but tragic reality.
‘Darkside’ being the final song on the album is extremely fitting as one of the lyrics in the chorus says “Best believe it’s the – last trick up his sleeve”
The story of the boy is used as a pawn to depict Grandson’s final observation on relaity. This song is a mixture of trap and electronic dubstep that is accompanied by a gritty and brooding voice. The song has a mellow start, but grandson continues to layer heavier beats throughout the song that intensify the track. The heavy beats manage to work well with the theme of isolation, for example, “Feeling all alone, it – was him against them.”
Like most of his songs, the listener doesn’t get answers, but the song ends with the lyric “The kid has got a Darkside” being repeated over and over again.
Grandson is making music to make noise. He touches on school shootings, escapism, the price mixed with the desire of selling your soul. It’s thought provoking and worth listening too.