By Kai Teo
It was only four years ago when I was a fresh-off-the-boat immigrant from Singapore. To properly integrate us into the Swedish society, all new immigrants had to attend the government-funded Swedish language class – SFI, or Swedish For Immigrants.
As the name suggests, it didn’t seemed like we were learning real Swedish. You know, like, actual, conversational level stuff that you could use to charm your Tinder date. It was “Swedish for Immigrants”, not “Swedish for Beginners”. So naturally, I very quickly stopped using the very awkward “Hur mår du?” as a greeting and switched to the more streetwise “Läget?” instead.
Youtube Swedish tutorial videos also gave way to Swedish music videos that sounded a lot better and a lot more badass. And that was when I first discovered Syster Sol and General Knas’ “Kärleksrevolt” and “Hetare än Lava”. Boom. It wasn’t just Swedish for babies, it was Skånska for revolutionaries. I lived in Malmö, and there was no other Swedish dialect that I would speak. Sorry Stockholmers, I don’t fly the blue and yellow flag, I’m proudly wearing the red and yellow one. And guess what, the video had subtitles too. YES! My deeply rooted Asian connection with karaoke was fired up and I sang along to that, day and night, 12/12.
Because of this single video, the impression that the Swedish hiphop and reggae scene gave to me was that it was brimming with revolutionary ideas against the ills of capitalism and the evils of today’s flawed system of control. Their words gave our generation a manifesto to live our lives upon, base our ideals on, and build a new world from. It wasn’t just music, it was the language of the future. And if we only listened carefully and learnt from the words of these poets, maybe today, we wouldn’t be stuck on Pokemon Go and go all gaga about the iPhone 7 (it doesn’t even have a headphone jack).
So yes, to me, they were the maestros who created the soundtrack to our courageous march towards a grander society based on peace, love, unity, respect and freedom. And to finally see them live on stage together, was pure exhilaration. And in a setting such as the new Christiania, their message became even more powerful.
To give a little background, Christiania had been a largely independent hippie enclave of Copenhagen since the early 70s. Even though most of its inhabitants have liberal attitude towards the personal use of soft drugs, the area has become a little Amsterdam in the city, rife with violent gangs running the infamous pusher street. It was only early this month that the residents have had enough of their little rainbow paradise being overrun by non-loving stoners with guns and finally took action to remove the cannabis supermarket. Christiania shouldn’t be famous for its weed, it should be globally recognised for its values.
This recent “revolution”, plus the timely concert of Syster Sol and General Knas, was a strong reminder to all of us that our pursuit of higher consciousness has to come back down to the core element of love. It’s not what we smoke that makes us revolutionary, it’s how we attempt to make the world better after we’ve smoked. That’s what really counts. As much as our reggae artistes glorify Mama Marijuana, it’s never really about the spliff. Our joints, our bongs, and our chillums are only symbols of personal freedom, little triumphant moments in our struggle against The Man, and middle fingers to an oppressive system. The real war is about freeing our minds from archaic, xenophobic concepts, taking action to help our fellow human beings, and becoming a better person that spreads love, kindness and compassion.
It’s called Kärleksrevolt for a reason. And I sincerely thank Syster Sol and General Knas for putting it in precise, lyrical beauty for us. We thank you for the evening, and we thank you for being a continuous inspiration for all the youths in Sweden.
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