How Donald Trump and Threats of Nuclear War Inspired Miguel's New Album 'War & Leisure'

It’s been two years since fans fell in love with Miguel's third studio album, Wildheart, a critically-acclaimed ode to modern sexuality (Time magazine named it the best album of  2015). The R&B singer has always been a boundary-pusher, and, like Marvin Gaye before him, he's veering from the sultry to the topical with his fourth album, War & Leisure. In particularl, he told The Guardian last Friday, it is a call to action, addressing Americans targed by President Trump. 

Miguel's new album was inspired by Donald Trump Singer-songwriter Miguel performs onstage at the Annenberg Foundation and KCRW's Sound In Focus Concert at Annenberg Space For Photography on July 15, 2017 in Century City, California. Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Miguel wrote some of the songs in response to President Donald Trump’s tweets to North Korea leader Kim Jon Un. “You see us on the brink of nuclear war over Twitter,” he said in the interview. “Or the rise of the far right in Germany and France. So my whole mindset for the album is: What are we supposed to do, caught in the middle of this? We’re at the brink of complete war and complete pleasure, at all times, every day.”

It’s not just Trump’s rhetoric that influenced the singer. References to some of America’s darkest moments—9/11, Columbine, and the ongoing targeting of black people by law enforcement—are embedded in Miguel's lyrics. He described writing them as feeling "like I'm a fucking parent. My generation are the adults now. We hold the responsibility to shape the world we’re now living in for our children."

With regard to the rise of racial tension in America, Miguel said it would “be stupid to live in the United States and think or believe otherwise." But outside of using his music to shed light on issues, or even to spark a conversation, he's not sure how much he can change. He spoke of meeting with the president, though he assumes Trump would never agree to that: “I mean, who am I? A C-list celebrity?” But, he added, he also "doesn't have the answers" to a lot of the problems facing the world. "There’s someone with much better answers than I [have].”

War & Leisure is set to drop later this year. 

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