In the darkness of these past few months and the violence of our country’s authority figures, people have been gathering together to stand up for what is fair and just, including some of the biggest artists in the music industry.
Getting into some of the inspiring and moving music that these artists have been producing in lieu of the painful events that have occurred in our society, the music has been courageous, fluid, revolutionary, and overall profound.
But is it enough to voice the music of change, or will the actual actions of the people influence true power?
Artists such as Jay Z, Miguel, Chris Brown, Swizz Beatz, Mike Dean, Slim Thug, Mistah Fab, YG, Young Buck, Blood Orange, Vic Mensa and many many more came together to speak up against the shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Orlando Shootings. The two men, Sterling and Castile, were killed by policemen in Atlanta and their tragic passings brought forth this fury like no other. These artists then took it upon themselves to speak from the soul of those hurting: the families, the friends, and those lost, through music, through speeches, through activism, and commercials and social media. Any means possible to reach out to people’s minds.
As some may remember, Mensa had released a single titled “Free Love” that struck heartstrings towards LGBTQ community who were harmed recently in Orlando.
And now more are speaking, actors, musicians, high-esteemed figures, and influential individuals, because when something is wrong, it’s wrong. When it’s one man versus a million, chances are that the million actually may be right, and the one is wrong.
Co-president of Top Dawg Entertainment, Terrence “Punch” Henderson, recently tweeted in the past few days a message that holds true to this day:
“I believe music heals. I believe that.”
Tidal Founder and notorious rapper, Jay Z, revealed a personal message of his to all of his fans on Thursday night. It was an introduction to his single that he dropped recently “Spiritual.” Henderson had told him to release this song last year after Mike Brown’s tragic death, but Jay Z was too upset and cynical to listen. He had said then that “this issue will always be relevant.”
You can here his song on Tidal now.
In the piano composition “My Friend” by Chris Brown, he sings melodically to a beautiful tune and beat, as if to reflect the cries of the people. He sings, “I’m ashamed, I can’t even cry, anxiety at night…” and “anybody dealing with injustice or struggle in their lives…”
Swizz Beatz and Scarface work together to create a song about “a little boy [who] got shot down today” and how they “hope the whole world be ok.” The song is an optimistic, tropical tune, but just like the other songs, has a greater meaning to blast the assumptions that the officers are innocent and that police violence is ok.
In “How Many,” Miguel does not wish to be quiet anymore, instead he chooses to use his contemporary R&B vibes to compliment an alien sounding guitar riff to profess that “I cannot stay silent.” He questions us as we listen “how many black lives? How many heartbeats turned into flatlines?… Does it take to wake the change.” Complex noted a caption that he placed under his track once he released it: “this version was started (written/recorded) here in London in my hotel room between the hours of 4am and around 7am when I passed out. ill update this song every week until its complete. Please feel free to share. #blacklivesmatter.”
Slim Thug wrote in relation to his song , “IDKY,” “I remember thinking in the last few weeks this song might be too late cause it’s been a minute since the last one and look here we go again twice in less than 24 hours…#BlackLivesMatter.” He wasn’t wrong, unfortunately.
And the list goes on. Mike Dean produced with Z-Ro, “No Justice No Peace.” Mistah Fab dropped “6 Shots.” And Young Buck unleashes “Riot.” You can here these below. How many more songs, how many more protests and how many more lives have to be shaken before something actually changes about police violence?
Now before I end this piece, I would like to express a few of my feelings very briefly to the police officers who have caused us these emotions of agony. If any of you who are reading this support guns, tell me then, do you support gun violence? Every single person who is given a gun, is given the responsibility of someone’s life. We may not know whose life that is, but what does it matter? It’s a life, nonetheless. A life is a life. A person is a person. And a police man who shoots the innocent is not a man, is not a human, but is an animal. But even that is an insult to the creatures who roam our Earth and only prey on what is necessary for survival. Instead, sir, you are a monster.
Riddle me this, is killing a man who looks different from you but walks, breathes, thinks, and feels the same as you do every day a means of survival? Tell me, do you have family? Do you have friends? Do you have a passion, a hobby, a favorite word, a favorite color, a favorite song? Well, guess what? I bet he did too. I bet they all did, and you just took that away from him. The most beautiful, most simple, most precious parts of their identities, you took from them. Do you, sir, think you matter? Does that badge of “power” make you feel strong? Does metal make you feel macho? Does being white make you feel better, does it make you matter? Well, guess what, in this convoluted, broken, sick, twisted mind of yours, maybe you would know that all our lives mattered, especially the one you killed. Instead of killing him off, you made them a legend and a symbol of what it means to be alive. What it means to have a voice that sings an innocent cry of peace and love…But you wouldn’t understand that would you, because you are blind and deaf and inhuman.
Take a moment of silence for the people who have lost their voices, and listen to the music of these actively engaged artists.