10 Commandments

Album: Encore (2019)
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Songfacts®:

  • This socially charged track features the voice of activist Saffiyah Khan, who offers 10 essential decrees.

    Thou can catcall me on the street but know I will catcall you back and say you're looking pretty sexy in your joggers or suit or newfound look of confusion.

    Saffiyah Khan is a half-Pakistani, half-Bosnian activist and model from Birmingham, England. She shot to online fame after confronting a member of the right-wing EDL in Birmingham in 2017.
  • The song is a female response to Jamaican ska legend Prince Buster's 1967 track of the same name. Buster's original is a hyper-sexist rant, which The Specials Terry Hall thought needed revising. Bassist Horace Panter told Uncut magazine:

    "We'd listened to the original and buried our heads in our hands, because it's very un-PC. So we tried to reinterpret it for the 21st century. Terry was talking to Saffiyah and we thought, 'Why don't we turn the whole thing on its head and have it from the contemporary feminist point of view?' And the result is quite extraordinary."
  • Khan agonized for weeks over her commandments, only to finish them up the night before the London recording session. After Hall made a few last-minute edits, she nailed her vocal in a couple of hours.

    "We said, 'We'll lift you up on our shoulders and let you say what you want to say - it's your time to shout now,'" guitarist Lynval Golding told Billboard. "We gave her room to do her thing. I'm really pleased with the way she went about it."

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