Track of the Day: Mustafa “Air Forces” (2020)


“Air Forces” is the new single from 23-year-old Muslim poet and songwriter Mustafa. The single, which is built around samples of a Sudanese tribal chant, follows the success of his debut single “Stay Alive”. Further, “Air Forces” marks the continued exploration of a musical style that Mustafa describes as ‘inner city folk music’.

The move to release his own music is a recent development for the 23-year-old from Regent Park, Toronto; and came following the loss of close friends to gun violence. Much of his music, then, is addressed to those departed friends, and more broadly to his neighbourhood. It’s a vehicle to honour and affirm his community, and also to help provide some sense of solace. His music has gained some high profile backers too, “Air Forces” was co-produced by Frank Dukes & Jamie xx; whilst his debut “Stay Alive” also featured production from James Blake.

“Air Forces” is quietly powerful, whilst the accompanying video (directed by Kid. Studio) is striking and provocative also. Much of its power comes from Mustafa’s emotive vocals and those lyrics. For me, it seems to quite neatly capture the idea of a duality, and of trying to balance tradition and heritage with living in contemporary society. But, also of that timeless desire to keep those around you safe. Not only is the music powerful, his poetry is too. You should read the poem in the video description too.

“Air Forces” is out now. You can find and follow Mustafa on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.

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