Soul singer Michael Kiwanuka returns with his most upbeat-sounding single so far, in collaboration with guitarist Tom Misch. "Money" is darker than it seems, however. 

Perhaps no subject has had so much ink spilled over it as money. "The love of money is the root of all evil," sayeth the Bible. "Money makes the world go around," according to Liza Minnelli. "Money, that's what I want," sings Barrett Strong.


Anti-capitalist sentiments have been on the rise throughout the 21st Century, and for good reason. Crony capitalism has never been more prevalent, turning back the clock on decades of progress, melting the ice caps in the process and putting all life on Earth in jeopardy. In America, a huge percentage of the population can't go to the doctor or the dentist, can't afford clean water or healthy food. Meanwhile, our lives fall apart as we stumble into solitude and isolation, struggling under the weighty yoke of Late-Stage Capitalism.

Sometimes it seems that money itself, not the love of it, is the root of all evil. But that's just an oversimplification. Money is an abstraction, a commodification of time, energy, and resources. Hating money is like hating gravity. Yes, it stops us from flying. It also keeps us from hurtling into space.

This strange dichotomy is the subject of neo-soul singer Michael Kiwanuka's newest single, "Money," created in collaboration with renowned session guitarist Tom Misch. "Money" is no agitprop propaganda, no po-faced, brown-shirted communist call-to-arms. Nope, "Money" is a feelgood lazy sway of a disco anthem, that isn't afraid to look at the dark side of finances.

Despite the heavy subject matter, "Money" finds Kiwanuka at his breeziest and most upbeat. 2016's Love & Hate, which helped vault the soul singer into international stardom, found Kiwanuka in a much more somber mood, delivering heartbroken piano ballads straight from a late night bar in 1977. "Money" sounds sourced from a similar era, but from a shinier, happier nightlife. Its shiny, bouncy exterior is a perfect encapsulation of the yin/yang of that era - the lighted dancefloors to distract from the shuttering factories, the war-torn youth, the Year Zero of Punk Rock, with its cry of "No Future" about to be birthed. 

Kiwanuka's nuanced exploration of a hard subject matter is a good sign. It's a sign of critical thinking, of peering deep into the crevices of the collective unconscious and reporting back fearlessly. He realizes that money can't buy him happiness. He also realizes he'll likely be rather unhappy if he doesn't have it. 

"Money" is the sound of turning back the clocks, of returning to an era when there seemed to be some hope, some promise, some potential. Now here's to hoping we can undo the damage the last 40 years or so have wrought!>