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Standout Track: “As Long As The Police Don’t Get Me” is the latest from College Park-based rap/rock/soul fusion quintet Leftist. Intriguing to Leftist is the group’s mature, multiethnic, and multinational composition. The band’s members range in age from 29-35, and include Mouhamad Diabate from Côte d’Ivoire, Ebadullah Ebadi from Afghanistan, Mahir Maruf from India, and U.S.-born Nurideen Bashir and Mark Hatcher. “Musically, this is a three-chord protest song, but there’s hip-hop, rock, and funk elements, too,” Hatcher says. “We want to add to the conversation that bands like Rage Against The Machine and Public Enemy inspired in us, but also be slightly different.”

Musical Motivation: “This track didn’t completely take shape until I visited Nigeria for three weeks and I composed the song,” Hatcher says. “[Nurideen] had already written the lyrics as a response to everything happening.” Bashir adds that “We had all seen so many videos and they had obviously hit us hard. I wanted to write something from the perspective of the police, and questioning whether or not they were necessarily there to protect [us]. My cousin was beat up at a traffic stop, and as a child, my father was attempting to stop a fight between a group of girls, and when the cop pulled up, he pulled a gun on my father and demanded he stop doing what he thought was my father beating up the girls, which wasn’t the case… As a man, I can’t live in fear. I know that my life matters, and I wanted that reflected in the song.”

Composition Note: Hatcher grew up with police officers as family members, and as such, he feels a lot of tension contemplating exactly how he should relate to these times. His composition reflects that uneasiness: “I left out the third notes because those let you know if a song is major or minor,” he says. “I intentionally left them out because I wanted there to be this uneasy middle ground of thought as to whether this song was happy or sad, or if people felt comforted or endangered. The song’s ambiguous nature never really quite resolves [our human] concerns. We’re angry and there’s dissonance, but we’re also unified and uplifted.”