It might feel a little early to say at this point, but we have no doubt that Riz Ahmed's spoken word/rap album The Long Goodbye is one of the most important releases of 2020. It's one that every person in the UK needs to listen to, regardless of their position on Brexit, because if we continue to let dangerous Islamophobic and racist attitudes spread, Britain faces a very bleak future indeed.

Riz Ahmed - The Long GoodbyeRiz Ahmed - The Long Goodbye

The musician and actor described the record as "a breakup album - but with your country", and you can get the full picture from the first track The Breakup. It's clever and crude, with historical references that show that this is an album from someone who knows only too well the extent of hypocrisy and bitterness that Brexit has brought to the UK, largely because the community in which he grew up have been treated like outsiders for as long as he can remember. Attitudes have only worsened in recent years. 

Six of the tracks are less than a minute long because they are voicemails from Ahmed's friends (Mindy Kaling, Mahershala Ali, Yara Shahidi, Chabuddy G and Hasan Minhaj) and his mother (Ammi), expressing their condolences over Ahmed's "break-up". The whole analogy is thoroughly amusing and totally spot on, likening all the emotions that Brexit has brought out in us to those that we may experience in the breakdown of a relationship, but at no point does Ahmed let you forget the seriousness of the situation.

Musically, the album is kind of a bhangra/jungle blend, but the most hard-hitting track on there has not musical backing at all: Where You From. The spoken-word number explores this idea of how being born and raised in a country doesn't always mean that you feel welcome there.

Other songs like Fast Lava is about Ahmed's relationship with the colour of his skin, while Toba Tek Singh likens the relationship between the UK and Europe to that of Pakistan and India during the 1947 Partition as described in the 1955 satirical story which was also called Toba Tek Singh.

You can't appreciate the album fully without watching the accompanying short film starring Riz himself and directed by Aneil Karia. It's a gritty 11-minute video that depicts a brutal possible result of racial ignorance in the UK continuing to be allowed.

The film begins with an ordinary British-Asian family doing ordinary things; dancing, relaxing, laughing, bickering and getting ready for a pre-wedding party or "dholki". They are pointedly ignoring what's going on with regards to the news on the TV, where the shrewd viewer can see racially charged protests and rioting, because by now they've become desensitised to such things. Pretty soon though things take a terrifying turn when Riz Ahmed's character notices from an upstairs window a series of vans with tinted windows and masked men with guns and baseball bats attacking his neighbours. 

There's one heart-stopping piece of dialogue you hear that turns these events into something more than your average criminal gang activity: "They're rounding people up, man. It's happening." No sooner has he tried to warn the household of the danger outside than the thugs bearing English flags on their uniforms burst into their home and drag everyone out, including a young boy. Ahmed's character gets shot as he tries to help the boy, and we see him lying injured on the ground, forced to watch his friends and family being lined up and murdered, as police officers deliberately turn their backs and white neighbours look on unconcerned. 

After they've left, Ahmed recites Where You From as hauls himself to his feet, and we truly understand the impact of the country's racist attitudes towards its residents of Indian and Pakistani heritage. It's not easy to watch; indeed, The Long Goodbye is not easy to listen to. But it delivers an important message about the huge step back that Britain is taking as we face an uncertain, and rather frightening, future.