Album Review: Art and Music And Politics Collide On OTEP’s “Kult 45”

Some say art, music, and politics are separate entities and should stay that way. Those are the ignorant because over time everything begins to mingle. Music is deemed art, politics fuels lyrics, and so on. Few manage to walk the line without going too far one way or the other and OTEP is one of the few with Kult 45 being right on the line.

 

Knowing OTEP’s music and her honesty I knew this was going to be an album that would be locked and loaded. The opening song “Halt Right” is one of the songs that go right after the current presidency. As a song it’s get rally cry and anthem written all over it but because it is directly about our current president the songs lifespan is over once his presidency ends which surprised me because OTEP has in the past preached her political disagreement in a way that could be used for generations to come. This one is just way too obviously focused on one person.

 

Thankfully though that’s really the only obviously directed song. The song “To The Gallows”, which has a highly energetic guitar line that’ll have you strumming along, expresses the displeasure that she and many have with our current presidency but also has longevity.

With the line “does your necktie feel like a noose?” is OTEP at her lyrical best. Every politician has eventually hung themselves with their actions and words. This one line alone can carry on for decades in countries around the world for people who feel beaten by the system. Continuing her ways of inspiring through her music.


And speaking of inspiring there’s the song “Boss” with it’s marching rhythm to remind all that they can be the boss of their own life. Yes it’s primarily targeted at women who still aren’t equals in the workplace but it also applies to everyone. It’s a quick reminder to take the power you have inside you and make it your own.


The messages don’t end there on Kult 45 as OTEP addresses the topic of gun violence in schools with “Shelter In Place”. This is another questionable track because it’s targeting one group while also addressing the fact that kids are being killed in schools too often. We absolutely need to have this topic discussed and I credit OTEP for permanently addressing it in her music but to make the focus of blame one group is again walking that thin line.


Perhaps lyrics blaming both sides would’ve worked better especially when on the same album is a song called “Trigger Warning” which addresses the sexual assaults running rampant but the lyrics have the victim shooting her assailant. This seems almost hypocritical on Kult 45 as one song is anti-gun while the other has it warranted as defense. Violence is never an answer but it throws off the consistency of the album.


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Bringing me to last song on the album is something that returns to the idea music as art. “The Tribe Speaks” is just voicemail messages from fans saying how OTEP’s music has affected their life. Sure it has those that bashed the presidency or screamed “OTEP you rock!” just so they’d get used but in between are some very true and heartfelt messages of who she’s helping over the years with her music. In the end sometimes that’s what truly matters is that a song healed another individual.

Is Kult 45 political? Yes. Did OTEP maybe cross a few lines? Probably. The best thing to do is just give it a spin with an open mind because Kult 45 is definitely art in music form as some will get it while others won’t.

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