‘The Long Goodbye’ helps when you feel detached from your homeland
By Udeshi Seneviratne, Illustrator
An unapologetic, funny, and original concept album that uses the metaphor of a toxic relationship to describe how Riz feels it is to be an immigrant unwanted in your own home.
Even though the album is a sad and poignant description of what some, including the political left, see as the reality for immigrants and minorities in most countries—the tracks on it remain high-tempo and energetic throughout. Ahmed takes lightning-quick swings at colonialism and the racism he sees in British society with strong and emotional rap verses.
Ahmed compares the feeling of heartbreak and the feeling that the country you grew up in wanting nothing to do with you. The album focuses on themes like how British-Asians are treated in a country that, in his view, was built by immigrants. He incorporates skits to drive his message home. The tracks also use South Asian instrumentals and Qawwali harmonies, creating extra depth.
In providing his own personal brutal examinations of the current political system in the UK, Ahmed’s first song “The Breakup (Shikwa)” is tightly packed with verses of Ahmed’s view on colonialism told through a story of his own relationship experiences. The song starts with how Britain or “Brittney” came to trade and refuses to leave. Then “carved a scar down my middle just to leave me stretched out […] see, my cashmere jumper’s still stained red,” is an ode to the Kashmir region, still inflicted with war between India and Pakistan. Some, including Riz, blaming the UK’s partion for it. The album is filled with wordplay and metaphors of Ahmed being mistreated by his girlfriend that he once trusted which he has a home and child with.
The voice delivery throughout the album ranges from anger, to sadness, to acceptance. In the podcast Hip Hop Saved My Life, Ahmed explained how he goes through the five stages of grief, much like what people tend to generally go through in a breakup.
With the enjoyable fast and steady pace throughout and fast-paced rhymes, the skits after every track can be interrupting to the flow. Ahmed had famous brown artists like Mindy Kaling, Hasan Minhaj, and Yara Shahidi call in to offer support, advice, and even words of consolidation on how bad Brittney is looking at the moment. Even though the skits are entertaining and enhance the similarities between a breakup from a relationship to that of a country, they are often abrupt.
I love how original and emotionally heavy The Long Goodbye is. It shares various glimpses of what it feels like to be betrayed and rejected, especially in a country you feel you contributed much to building. The album can be relatable to all that feel unaccepted in their homes. It is funny, personal, and celebrates South Asian cultures in the midst of complex examinations of an identity crisis.