The creator of the viral ‘Bonk Song’ on how a water jug became a symbol for the Palestinian protests from Mashable

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Art is integral to the success and longevity of social movements. It’s woven into the very fabric of progress. The fight for Palestinian liberation is no different.

Dozens of protests over the Israel-Hamas war have erupted across college campuses over the past few weeks. They began at Columbia University and spread to more than a dozen other schools across the country, led by students calling for their universities to divest from companies that are aiding Israel’s military efforts in Gaza. 


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The protests have led to a significant police presence on campuses. In response, some 1,000 people have been arrested. During one altercation between protesters and police at Cal Poly Humboldt, a protester hit a police officer in the head with a large, empty water jug, which is now being referred to online as the “Jug of Justice.” It quickly went viral on social media and led to many people calling to “bonk the police” and making the water jug recognizable anti-police imagery. 

No$hu, a 29-year-old artist, saw the video and turned it into a now-viral trap song. The song starts with “I hate the police,” and ends with “If you’re resourceful, anything can be the right weapon.” But the tune is so upbeat and auto-tuned that it makes the lyrics’ radical politics palatable.


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The song has ignited a conversation about whether it’s appropriate to make light of the ongoing conflict on campuses and the war in Gaza. For No$hu, it’s not only pertinent — it’s necessary. In conversation with Mashable, he pointed to a quote by anarchist printer Jack Frager paraphrased from anarcho-feminist icon Emma Goldman’s autobiography Living My Life. “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”

“You can normalize radical thought through something playful,” No$hu said. “I’m saying super radical things if you listen to the song. If I said those in an angry way, you could terrify some people. But doing it with some autotune in a playful way makes it more accessible.”

Mashable spoke with No$hu about writing the viral song, finding joy in revolution, and using his strengths to aid the protest movement.

Mashable: What inspires you when you’re making music?

No$hu: A lot of it has humor. There’s some more serious stuff, but what comes most naturally to me is stuff that has to do with protest, justice, or resistance and revolution, mixed with humor.

There have been a lot of powerful videos coming out of these pro-Palestine protests. What about that video caught your attention?

Just how hilarious it was. When I see cool clips like that, [and] I have a lot of them like that, I hop on and try to amplify it with something creative. So I saw that, and it was just instant. I started thinking right away, “How can I  approach this creatively?”

Tell me more about that — the process of making this.

I pick out three or four obvious points that I want to talk about — like jug, bonk, you know. And then I’ll just play with those words until I come up with something that I’m satisfied with. So, like “jug or not, juggernaut,” stuff like that.

And then did you send it to a producer?

No. [I used] a free instrumental off YouTube that I had on my laptop. I was searching through the beats that I had already downloaded and trying to find the right vibe. And as soon as I heard that — there’s an instrument playing in that, that immediately I was just like, “bonk, bonk,” you know? It just came into my head to swing it along with that melody. So it just worked out perfectly.

How long did it take you?

I saw [the video] two days after it initially came out. And so that night I started coming up with ideas based on [words like] jug and bonk. And then the next morning I recorded it. I was in a hostel at the time, so I recorded it in between the other travelers coming in and out of the room. Just so they wouldn’t hear me yelling [and] making weird sounds, I had to squeeze the recording in on my bed in the hostel. But it took me like 20 minutes to get the recording done. Then maybe another 40 [minutes] to mix it and edit it.

What do you record and mix with?

The software I use is called Mixcraft, but all the recordings are super simple, done with a laptop, an interface, and a microphone.

Then you just uploaded it to social media?

I uploaded it to Twitter and Instagram, and I had no expectations. I just threw it up. Because I do those pretty often. Some of them get a lot of views, and some of them don’t, but I just put them up if it sounds good to me. I release it and then see what people think about it. I remember I came back to it after an hour and it already had like 300 likes and a bunch of retweets. I was like, “Oh, OK. I think this one might take off.”

What has the reaction been like?

It’s been crazy. I’ve been on my phone way too much because I’m trying to respond to all the messages. It’s cool to see what people say. Someone in the comments was like, “I’m going to play this on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza.” 

Do you know any of the people who are doing these protests on campuses? Did you talk to the person who did the bonking?

No, I haven’t talked to him. I’d like to talk to him though. That person is a legend.

Have your other songs spread that quickly?

I’ve had a couple last year that have a similar amount of views. Some of them pop off, some of them don’t, but I have like a good five or six that have gotten views like this one.

What makes you so interested in Palestinian liberation?

To me, it’s so obvious how disturbing and disgusting what’s going on is. It’s not something that I feel like I need to put eloquently. There’s a genocide going on. 

A lot of people feel powerless if they’re not in California or New York City or on a college campus where these protests are happening. You’re traveling right now — have you felt that powerlessness, and what do you do to help the cause when you can’t physically be at a protest?

I know how I like to contribute, or how I naturally contribute, is through music. That comes naturally. I don’t feel powerless because I’ve been doing this for a while, and I know how much laughter and joy help with things like this. When things are stressful, it’s super important to have some humor. I know that’s what I can contribute to this. So I never feel powerless. I feel empowered when I see stuff going on like this, and I feel inspired. I can contribute in my own way to this. And I feel like people should do that, too. Take what their talent is or their skill or their passion is and contribute it somehow to help things snowball.

How do you feel having participated in the creation of a fun meme during a time like this?

There’s a huge percentage of [young people who] love memes and take [information] in that way. So we should use that to our advantage. 

Do you think it also adds some longevity to a movement?

You have to be able to laugh. It’s so easy to get discouraged and demoralized. You need to be laughing as much as you can, at every chance.

The post The creator of the viral ‘Bonk Song’ on how a water jug became a symbol for the Palestinian protests from Mashable appeared first on Tom Bettenhausen’s.

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