Esteemed director Steve McQueen has teamed up with Motown Records UK for the official soundtrack to his landmark five-film anthology series Small Axe, set for release on Record Store Day, Saturday, June 12.
The soundtrack has been personally curated and selected by McQueen, and will feature the original score by award-winning composer Mica Levi.
“Music is an integral part of Small Axe, especially Lovers Rock,” shared McQueen in a statement.
“Selecting the songs was definitely one of the most fun parts of making the anthology series, so I’m really excited about the soundtrack release, especially the legendary tracks “Silly Games” and “To Be Young, Gifted And Black” performed by the brilliant Tiana Major9 and Michael Kiwanuka.”
Mica Levi: “I am proud and thankful to be part of the music used in Steve McQueen’s telling of a too unknown true story. It goes to show that protest is an essential democratic right it can change legislation and create visibility and equality.”
The Small Axe Official Soundtrack gathers together a series of original tracks, film score excerpts, songs from the series, and spoken word pieces written by the renowned poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and performed by himself alongside cast members Sheyi Cole, Rochenda Sandall, and Shaun Parkes.
Exclusive tracks include Michael Kiwanuka’s rendition of the Nina Simone classic “To Be Young, Gifted And Black” and a rework of Janet Kay’s classic “Silly Games” by R&B songstress and Motown US artist, Tiana Major9.
“‘Silly Games by Janet Kay played a huge part in changing a generation by pushing the culture forward, as well as making the dream of creating timeless Black British Art a reality,” said Major9. “To see the stories based on the lives of my people on a global scale, means so much to me.”
The original of “Silly Games” by Janet Kay also features on the soundtrack alongside the likes of “Got To Give It Up” by Marvin Gaye, “Pressure Drop” by Toots & The Maytals, and “More Warning” by King Tubby, Augustus Pablo & The Aggrovators.
The Small Axe Official Soundtrack will be accompanied by a limited-edition vinyl release with artwork direction by the creative collective; Mabdulle, Tara Ung, and Wwwesh Studio
Nominated in a record 15 categories at the TV BAFTA Awards on June 6, 2021, the Small Axe anthology series comprises five original films by Academy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years A Slave, Widows). Set from the late 60s to the mid-80s, the films each tell a different story involving London’s West Indian community, whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will, despite rampant racism and discrimination.
Small Axe is “a celebration of Black joy, beauty, love, friendship, family, music, and even food; each one, in its own unique way, conveys hard-won successes, bringing hope and optimism.”
The Small Axe Official Soundtrack
Mica Levi – Protest
Toots & The Maytals – Pressure Drop
Prince Far I – Throw Away Your Gun
Linton Kwesi Johnson – New Crass Massahkah
Sheyi Cole – Uprising
Marvin Gaye – Got To Give It Up
Tiana Major9 – Silly Games
Rochenda Sandall – Dread Beat An’ Blood
Mica Levi – Old Bailey
Michael Kiwanuka – To Be Young, Gifted And Black
Imagination – So Good, So Right
Junior English – After Tonight
Mica Levi – In God You Must Trust
Shaun Parkes – Inglan Is A Bitch
Janet Kay – Silly Games (Lovers Rock Edit)
King Tubby, Augustus Pablo & The Aggrovators – More Warning