Bree Runway is Giving Us the Righteous Pop Music We Need Right Now

Her new single, “2ON,” is loud and messy, and full of personality.

Bree Runway

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

This week: “2ON” by Bree Runway (Virgin EMI Records, 2019)

Why we’re into it: It’s intense. It’s loud. It’s messy. It’s also what the pop music needs right now.

Runway originally hails from the London borough of Hackney and has only two other songs out, 2016’s “Butterfly” and 2017’s “What Do I Tell My Friends.” Both of these are excellent, and they channel much of the same energy and loudness that make “2ON” such a powerhouse. It’s in “2ON,” however, that Runway locates a pride in herself unlike most of what’s on offer in cookie-cutter pop songs. This is pride fueled by righteous anger.

The rawness of both the production and the message works in Runway’s favor. An alarm-like urgency to the beats underlies her delivery. “Who say I should turn the fuck down? Who say I ain’t this bitch when the lights go out?” she spits with an accuracy—it’s quick, on beat, and clear as day—that rivals the likes of veterans like Missy Elliott or Nicki Minaj. She’s versatile, too, sliding from lyrics delivered at hyperspeed into a churchy chorus.

In a tweeted statement, Runway shared the story behind the song: “When I was younger I couldn’t hack the amount of shade thrown at my skin tone from the playgrounds, to the boys at the bus stops after school that were equally as black, to every TV show, every music video, every movie that insinuated black was not beautiful! I made a terrible mistake messing around with bleaching chemicals I knew nothing about at a young age, in attempts to silence the hate.”

Runway is venturing beyond pop’s standard emotional register: the highs and lows of crushes and falling in and out of love. There’s nothing wrong with songs that operate in those traditional ranges, but sometimes we want pop music that lets us feel our anger and pride as intensely as we feel love.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate