Release Date: Mar 6, 2020
Record label: N/A
Actor, rapper and activist Riz Ahmed's first solo album in eight years is a neatly-packed, lazer-focused concept album, based on Pakistan's relationship with Britain and the extended metaphor of a romantic relationship. Interludes take the form of voicemails from well-known South Asian figures, including Mindy Kaling and Chabuddy G, consoling and advising Riz about a break-up, and each song concerns his feelings about identity, heritage and colonialism. Spoken word opener The Break Up (Shikwa) outlines this main theme, telling the allegorical story of deception and manipulation, while tracks like Mogambo and Deal With It touch on issues like airport searches and racial profiling.
The Long Goodbye follows the standard tropes of a breakup album: voicemails from loved ones checking in, lyrics questioning what went wrong, karma coming for the toxic ex. Only the breakup here is between actor/rapper Riz Ahmed and his country: Britain becomes "Britney", who laid with him and took his independence. It's an evocative, albeit sometimes overwrought concept.
T hings are rarely easy for the actor who choses to dabble in pop. For every Donald Glover, apparently able to flit at will between the film set and the recording studio, pausing only to bask in the superlatives that garland both sides of his work, there are umpteen Russell Crowes or Johnny Depps, their dreams of polymath stardom crushed by a reception that ranges from suspicion to bemusement to outright hostility. Those that try and fail usually put the negativity down to the public's desire to pigeonhole, to unfairly demand that one stays in one's lane, but really the problem is a distrust of dilettantism.