As we continue to strive for civil and social change here in America, we are always ready to raise our fists in solidarity with similar movements taking place all over the world. That’s why we have so much love for artists like Ria Hall. Drawing from the strength of her Maori ancestors, the New Zealand singer/songwriter is using her full-length debut, Rules of Engagement, as a form of activism. Five years in the making, the project delivers “a universally uplifting message to oppressed people around the world, and a timely call for unity to countries with historical inequalities.”
We had the privilege of premiering the album’s lead single “Black Light” this past September and felt an instant kinship to the Kiwi soulstress. Featuring production by SoulBounce faves Electric Wire Hustle and guest vocals by frontman Mara TK, the lush groove pays tribute to her heritage and clings to the hope of a better future for her people. Now that the official video has been released, we get to see that theme carried forward in an unexpected way.
Hall pays tribute to visual artist Ralph Hotere, a famed New Zealand artist of Maori descent who embraced similar themes of peace and unity throughout his career. The “Black Light” visuals draw inspiration from one of Hotere’s most renowned series named Black Paintings along with his other works. Though we catch occasional glimpses of Ria and Mara as shadows embedded into the moving artscape, the focus here is on the music and lyrics as they fuse into a visual masterpiece.
Watch the beautiful and moving clip for “Black Light” below, then witness Ria Hall and Che-Fu empower the masses with “Tell Me,” a reggae-tinged call for action and positive change. Rules of Engagement is currently available for download or physical purchase via digital retailers and Hall’s label home, Loop. You can also witness Hall’s visionary approach to musical activism via Rules Of Engagement: The Exhibition, a mobile art partnership with artist Tracey Tawhiao. The exhibit is planned to travel to the U.S. in early 2018 after making its rounds in Tauranga and Auckland.