All-Desi rock quartet The Kominas’ Brownness and outspoken lyrics, which frequently criticize Islamophobia, have landed at least one member on a federal watchlist and put them in many awkward conversations with TSA and border security agents. The band’s members share the situations they endure in the music video for “Freedom,” which dropped yesterday (April 6).
The video features clips of the members in separate interrogations, where unseen figures ask loaded questions about their personal lives and political, religious and musical affiliations. Here a few of the exchanges, which are cut with footage of the band playing the punk- and reggae-inflected song live:
- “So when you say you’re in a group, you mean a jihadist group, right?” “I mean a musical group.”
- “Why’d you guys come to America?” “I was born here.”
- “Do you prefer spicy food to non-spicy food?” “Yeah…”
- “Why do you sing songs in Pakistani if you don’t have something to hide?” “Um…that’s a good point.”
As bassist and vocalist Basim Usmani explained to Mic, the questions used in this video correspond to ones the band frequently encounter while touring. ”Most of the questions they would ask me would be this ‘good cop, bad cop’ stuff, where they were [sic] throw in a couple of, ‘Oh, you play in a punk band? What do you think about [long-standing New York City punk rock venue] CBGBs closing down, man?’” he says, after which one officer would follow up with something like, “ ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how Muslim are you?’”
Omar Majeed, who also highlighted The Kominas in his 2009 documentary, “Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam,” directed the video for “Freedom.” The song comes from the group’s 2015 album, “Stereotype,” and guitarist and vocalist Hassan “Sunny Ali” Malik told Mic that the band just finished recording a still-unnamed new album.
Watch the video above, and let us know what you think in the comments.