Aki Nawaz: It's time to get serious

The frontman of Fun-Da-Mental is undeterred by the row over his alleged support for suicide bombers.

Aki Nawaz has faced the threat of jail, alienation and vilification with his new album,
All Is War (the benefits of G-Had). The London-based leader of Fun-Da-Mental found his house besieged by the media when they caught the whiff of a story around the track "Cookbook DIY", which discusses the making of a suicide bomb and equates it with government scientists making bombs for the White House.

Many people homed in on the first part with little regard for the context of the song. He was repeatedly asked on BBC breakfast television if he was glorifying suicide bombers, and repeatedly he denied it.

"My only weapon is words," he says. "Am I going to do anything beyond that? I don't think I've got it in me to hurt anybody. If I were in Iraq or Lebanon I might feel differently, but [...] I despise bombs, and this is from going to Bosnia, Lebanon and Kashmir, and seeing the effects of the military machine. I think we need to look at things in a balanced way."

Fun-Da-Mental have had a political agenda since they formed in the early Nineties. Nawaz would be seen in NME and Melody Maker with his face bloodied, talking about racist attacks endured when growing up in Bradford, and the rise of right-wing extremist groups such as Combat 18.

He was prepared to face injury for his beliefs. "Fun-Da-Mental was set up on a political platform and without the connection to social and political commentary I would feel half naked. I wouldn't feel I was inspiring anyone. When we did our last album, There Shall Be Love, it was largely non-political, but at least the sleeve was controversial."

Musically the new album is as ferocious and uncompromising as its subject matter. "I have no immigration control on music," he states.

Travelling to Pakistan, he spent a month working with musicians such as the esteemed tabla player Balu. Back in London, Nawaz was working with young South African collective The Mighty Zulu Nation, who appear on two tracks. "Their song 'Bark Like a Dog' is about peaceful protest, but of a sort so loud that it shatters windows and almost demolishes buildings."

He believes that the album tackles oppression of all kinds. "If someone like Steven Spielberg came up to me with a film about the current state of the world, this is the style I would put it in, from anger to despair, and something which relates to people who feel left out of the box of society."

Another deliberately controversial song is "I Reject", which spits out a list of things that Nawaz finds most galling. However, lyrics such as "reject the miniskirt liberation" will cause some concern. "There is an assumption in the West that if you're half-naked then you're free, and therefore a woman who dresses modestly isn't. That's naive. Whatever way they want to dress is fine, but why should you say one is free and one isn't?

"I meet Muslim girls who partied hard, but then decided that it wasn't fulfilling enough and decided to live more modestly. The impression is that they're being oppressed, but [...] they know that they've got a choice."

What seems to drive Nawaz to put himself on the line is his desire to "see the tragedy of human beings". "We went out to Bosnia and saw some terrible things... it was something that should've never happened again. But now it's happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. I always say to Muslims: Listen, we've had Islam here for centuries, and we're still as stupid as we were then. What does it take for us to absorb what the real messages of Islam are?"

The debate as to whether Nawaz is glorifying terrorism will rage on. "I was on Radio 4 with the Conservative MP Michael Gove, who was there to promote his book on the bombings of 7/7. I asked him if his book wasn't also glorifying terrorism? My album wasn't even ready at the time.

"The manufacturers and distributors had pulled out, and then on 30 June this year I had to cancel everything because people were using my music as an intro to coverage of the anniversary of 7 July. So, I cancelled about 100 interviews. People were pleading with me, saying it was more important I speak now. But I told them that I wouldn't play this game, because my son was on his way down to King's Cross that day. He got turned back, but I'd still do the same album because I know where my finger is pointing at."

'All Is War (the benefits of G-Had)' can be downloaded from www.fun-da-mental.co.uk from 7 August; it will be released on the Five Uncivilised Tribes Label this month.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz