The actor and rapper Riz Ahmed has a role in the new Tom Hardy-starring Venom movie out this Friday, and he’s taken the opportunity to share a new solo track as Riz MC. “Mogambo” is an ominously clattering piece of work produced by Redinho, the third member of Swet Shop Boys, Ahmed’s hip-hop group also featuring Heems of Das Racist.
“Mogambo” pointedly takes its name from the villain in 1987 Bollywood classic Mr. India, a story about a secret formula that renders people invisible. Over bass bombs, siren-like drones, and an array of noisy percussion, Ahmed raps about persecution against brown people, often returning to the refrain, “They wanna kill us all.” Standout lyric: “This is for the mosque and the mosh pit/ We ain’t got shit, but we got this.”
The track arrives with a video by Bassam Tariq that tacks on a prologue verse by Ahmed. Over intense fast-paced hand drumming, he spits a rapid-fire onslaught including, “I don’t give a fuck about the cash you stack/ Or the crown on your skull, you ain’t Basquiat/ Or the Prince of Denmark/ Rizzy Boy piss on the benchmarks ’til white kids wanna be Paks.” It’s an impressive display with genuine feeling behind it.
In a press release, Tariq explains how the concept behind the video changed during production:
Our initial idea was a glamorized and intentionally composed video that challenged ideas of masculinity but after looking back at footage Riz and I shot in Pakistan, we realized that there is a raw energy that we can never recreate. So we decided to make the footage work and embrace the pedestrian nature of it. It’s tough for my ego to put something out that feels rough around the edges but throughout the edit the footage kept telling me that we are enough to keep viewers interested. We don’t need to be flashy to have people like us. We are perfectly imperfect – shaky compositions and soft focus and all.
Watch the “Mogambo” video below.