My must-listen list of music containing singles and an EP released between June 13th and June 19th, all which specifically reference systematic racism, police brutality, and/or the associated protests which have occurred and continue to occur across the world.
(click the link to learn more)
Week 8 will be structured like Week 6 (Must Listen, New Music: Week 6 #BLM) and Week 7 (Must Listen, New Music: Week 7 #BLM). Instead of interpreting, I am listening and learning. I will not be making assumptions about these songs as they would mean absolutely nothing, as I do not personally suffer from acts of racial injustice. In order to properly support and fight for those experiencing racial injustices, we must understand the situation from their perspective and confront the racial injustices that they face — each and every time they happen.
Music provides an outlet for artists to express their own experiences, in their own words. So, instead of me speaking on behalf of each artist about experiences I can never fully understand, I will let the lyrics and the artist’s words speak for themselves.
Ric Wilson posted an extensive, powerful, and important caption on Instagram to release “Fight Like Ida B & Marsha P”, which includes “people wanna fight like black men who were freedom fighters & make songs in their honor all the time which is valid. But when I think about next level courage to ball your fist up and look Patriarchy, racist, sexism, homophobia and transphobia right in the eye and fight against it, I feel like blk folk like Ida B Well and Marsha P Johnson are of the bravest of us all and if ima fight any injustice I wanna have the courage of freedom fighters like them the liberation of black womxn and black trans womxn lead to the liberation of all black people” followed by “as it’s pride month and officially BLM Uprsiing part 2 I encourage people to study past movement that were jump start or organized by Black Women, LGBTQAI and Non Binary folks. History of policing and prisons here in the US & the laws made to keep Blk and Queer folks suppressed in this country for over 450 years. If we focus and start understanding the why, we will longer waste time arguing on the what.”
"They ain't nothin' shown' no love Like the world against us Bein' born with no luck In mourning and stuck Fight the power like Chuck Rage against the machines And not giving fucks Pain and sorrow, once love We know war on good drugs Mean war on Black thugs Politicians disrupt Ain't no help from above"
"Marsha P Johnson was a freedom fighter and she taught us how to fight [...] Ida B Wells was a freedom fighter and she taught us how to fight"
"Y'all need to stop being racist Y'all need to stop being anti-Black Y'all need to stop killing black people Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter We right here, we standin' up, we ain't goin' nowhere"
"Defund the police Abolish the prisons, or don't speak a word to me Stop ICE and let 'em all free Let the kids be, end intersex surgeries The dollar that enslaved us cannot save us The cop that killed Mike Brown is not a savior Y'all be treating' laws like religion"
"I am the revolution And the revolution don't stop I am change Soon we will make a change that will change it all I am courage Courage to move the masses forward against those that will sit and stay and not move I am movement Moving all the place where we will be judged by content of our character and not the color of our skin I am my skin Color of my people who toiled the land of America and made it great I am great Great because I dedicate myself to change I dedicate myself to my people I dedicate myself to the movement I dedicate myself to the revolution And the revolution don't stop"
[ ℗ 2020 Free Disco / EMPIRE. ]
On Instagram a day after the song’s release, Katori Walker posted a lyric video version of the song where the lyrics and song cover art are plastered on a city billboard, with the caption reading “Proud To Be Black”.
"Judge talkin' thirty cus he black and he hate his face You know the system fucked up when you black as me At the door of success but we ain't get a key So we ain't knockin' now through the window now Just don't make a sound if you make a sound police prolly (prolly gun us down) Black it ain't a fad it's my life ni*** Same crime you gettin' twelve I'm gettin' life ni*** You got a slap on a wrist I got a strike ni*** But I wouldn't trade it for the world that's sacrifice ni***"
"Look at me I'm melanated You probably hate it but I celebrate it I made it here I wasn't 'posed to make it You probably hate it but I celebrate it Look at me I'm highly melanated"
[ ℗ 2020 Katori Walker Entertainment LLC. ]
Shirazee’s Instagram caption on the song’s release day begins with “this one took a lot out of me, this one is for us…” He also dedicated all of the proceeds to Color of Change, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and ACLU.
"Went from a ball and a chain now you want a bullet in skin Are you scared of my melanin? Or the royal blood in my veins? I no go fall for your violence I no go suffer in silence How you telling me to behave When you got your knee on my head Why you telling me that I'm safe? When all I really want is some air I no go fall for your violence I no go suffer in silence"
"You told me my voice would be heard Then I go vote all in vain Bigotry, liberty? don't sell me dreams of freedom once again (Nah) too many to count Too many results we don't see, (Nah) I'm getting my peace my way because I'm tired Your hate is the gas and my pain the lighter Take a look around the city's on fire The more you ignore it the more it'll rise up Rise up I'm tired"
[ ℗ 2020 JUSS DIFFERENT / Human Re Sources. ]
Anderson .Paak dropped the song and the video simultaneously, announcing both on Instagram. For the song’s release, the caption includes “WHO SAID IT WAS A #LOCKDOWN?!?” and “times are crazy but THE PEOPLE ARE RISING!” The corresponding video features cameos from rapper Jay Rock, singer-songwriter Syd, singer-songwriter Sir, singer/rapper Dominic Fike, singer-songwriter/actress Andra Day, and rapper Dumbfoundead.
"You should've been downtown The people are risin' We thought it was a lockdown They opened the fire Them bullets was flyin' Who said it was a lockdown? Goddamn lie"
"Time heals all, but you out of time now Judge gotta watch us from the clock tower Lil' tear gas cleared the whole place out I'll be back with the hazmat for the next round We was tryna protest, then the fires broke out Look out for the secret agents, they be planted in the crowd Said, 'it's civil unrest,' but you sleep so sound Like you don't hear the screams when we catchin' beatdowns? Stayin' quiet when they killin' ni***s, but you speak loud When we riot, got opinions comin' from a place of privilege Sicker than the COVID how they did him on the ground Speakin' of the COVID, is it still goin' around? And won't you tell me 'bout the lootin'? What's that really all about? 'Cause they throw away black lives like paper towels Plus unemployment rate, what, forty million now? Killed a man in broad day, might never see a trial We just wanna break chains like slaves in the South Started in the North End but we in the downtown Riot cops tried to block, now we got a showdown"
[ ℗ 2020 Aftermath Entertainment, exclusively distributed by 12 Tone Music, LLC. All rights reserved. ]
H.E.R. announced the song on Instagram with a corresponding video featuring footage from the protests occurring across the country and a graphic listing all of the names of the Black lives killed by police across the country. The video ends with the messages “WE CAN’T BREATHE. SILENCE IS VIOLENCE. BLACK LIVES MATTER. BLACK LIVES MATTER. BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
"Starting a war, screaming 'Peace' at the same time All the corruption, injustice, the same crimes Always a problem if we do or don't fight And we die, we don't have the same right What is a gun to a man that surrenders? What's it gonna take for someone to defend her? If we all agree that we're equal as people Then why can't we see what is evil? I can't breathe You're taking my life from me I can't breathe Will anyone fight for me?"
"How do we cope when we don't love each other? Where is the hope and the empathy? How do we judge off the color? The structure was made to make us the enemy Prayin' for change 'cause the pain makes you tender All of the names you refuse to remember Was somebody's brother, friend Or a son to a mother that's crying, singing"
"Trying times all the time Destruction of minds, bodies, and human rights Stripped of bloodlines, whipped and confined This is the American pride It's justifying a genocide Romanticizing the theft and bloodshed That made America the land of the free To take a black life, land of the free To bring a gun to a peaceful fight for civil rights You are desensitized to pulling triggers on innocent lives Because that's how we got here in the first place These wounds sink deeper than the bullet Your entitled hands could ever reach Generations and generations of pain, fear, and anxiety Equality is walking without intuition Saying the protector and the killer is wearing the same uniform The revolution is not televised Media perception is forced down the throats of closed minds So it's lies in the headlines And generations of supremacy resulting in your ignorant, privileged eyes We breathe the same and we bleed the same But still, we don't see the same"
[ ℗ 2020 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. ]
Alicia Keys posted an extensive snippet of the song with an extensive caption on Instagram to explain the inspiration and meaning behind “Perfect Way To Die” on Instagram. Part of the caption reads: “The song title is so powerful and heartbreaking because WE are heartbroken by so many who have died unjustly. Of course, there is NO perfect way to die. That phrase doesn’t even make sense. Just like it doesn’t make sense that there are so many innocent lives that should not have been taken from us due to the destructive culture of police violence. Sometimes I don’t have the words and music is the only thing that can speak. I hope this speaks to you. I hope one day this song won’t be so relevant. Let’s NEVER stop fighting for justice.”
"Simple walk to the corner store Mama never thought she would be gettin' a call from the coroner Said her son's been gunned down, been gunned down 'Can you come now?' Tears in her eyes, 'Can you calm down? Please, ma'am, can you calm down?'" But it rained fire in the city that day, they say A river of blood in the streets No love in the streets And then came silence in the city that day, they say Just another one gone And they tell her move on And she's stuck there, singing 'Baby, don't you close your eyes 'Cause this could be our final time And you know I'm horrible at saying goodbye And I think of all you could have done At least you'll stay forever young I guess you picked the perfect way to die Oh, I guess you picked the perfect way to die' New job, new city, new her Bright-eyed, you would have been proud if you knew her Flashing lights in the mirror, pull over, pull over A couple nights in detention and it's over, a whole life's over They came marching in the city that day, they say Carryin' signs in the street Cryin' eyes in the streets But they heard nothing from the city that day, they say Just another one gone And the city moved on"
"Another dream lost Another king and queen lost Another broken promise they refuse to make right Oh, another night to live in fear Oh, another night that you're not here Another reason to get out there and fight"
[ ℗ 2020 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. ]
Though Aretha Franklin passed away in 2018, her team released a previously unreleased version of the incredibly talented singer-songwriter and activist’s “Never Gonna Break My Faith”, which features The Boys Choir of Harlem.
"You can lie to a child with a smilin' face Tell me that color ain't about race You can cast the first stones, you can break my bones But you're never gonna break You're never gonna break my faith Faith and hope ain't yours to give Truth and liberty are mine to love You can steal a crown from a king Break an angels wings But you're never gonna break You're never gonna break my faith"
"For those we lose before their time I pray their souls will find the light I know that the day will surely come When His will, His will, will be done"
[ ℗ 2020 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. ]
Following the massive online attention of Keedron Bryant’s a cappella performance of “I Just Wanna Live” posted the day George Floyd was murdered, which was been viewed more than 3 million times, the 12-year-old has signed with Warner Records and recorded a studio version of the track. All the single’s net profits are being donated the NAACP.
"I just wanna live God protect me I'm a young black man Doing all that I can To Stand Oh, but when I look around And I see what's being done To my kind Every day I'm being hunted as prey My people don't want no trouble We've had enough struggle"
"So many thoughts in my head Will I live? Or will I end up dead? It's an unequal sequel No matter where I be There's no place safe for me"
[ ℗ U Made Us What We Are, LLC, ℗ 2020 Warner Records Inc. ]
Amber Mark released a cover of “My People” by Eddie Kendricks. She announced the upcoming release (to occur on Juneteenth) on Instagram which featured the hashtag #SayTheirNames and the single’s cover art, which includes the names of Black lives murdered across the country due to racial injustices. On Juneteenth, she posted an interpretive performance of the song on Instagram with an extensive and personal caption, part of which reads “It’s a crazy world we’re living in & my people have been suffering the most, leaving me with tears in my eyes & so many questions that have been keeping me up at night for weeks” and “this cover is dedicated to all the people speaking out on behalf of purely loving one another no matter the minuscule .1% differences in our DNA. Hold on to that love and know YOU, no matter where your ancestors migrated to, are MY people.”
"The time has come, in this land When the lion must lay down with the lamb Brothers and sisters, lay side by side Hold on to love, let its light be your guide My people, hold on My people, got to hold on My people, hold on (Don't you feel it?)"
"Hold on to love, we have to love Hold on to love, hold on to love Hold on to love, just show me love Hold on to love, hold on to love Hold on to love, we've had enough"
[ ℗ A PMR / EMI release; ℗ 2020 Jasmine Music Ltd t/a PMR Records, under exclusive license to Universal Music Operations Limited. ]
Ebenezer announced the song release on Instagram 2 days in advance with a visual lyric snippet (including footage from the protests occurring across the nation) and a simple caption: “Change starts when our voices are heard! So I’m dropping Melanin this Friday”. On the day of the release, he posted the single’s cover art on Instagram with the caption: “I see the protest have died down but let’s not stop the good work and positive change we are all trying to make.”
"All because I'm black, black, that's my skin My melanin, that's how it's always been All because I'm black, that's why they treat me different I talk, they don't listen, I'm not playin' the victim I gotta say I'm black and I'm proud I say that shit loud, don't Ever tell me tone that shit down, yeah All because I'm black, black, that's my skin My melanin, that's how it's always been"
"I thank God I'm alive, sick of watchin' my people die Look at how they take a life, they go on the record and lie Even though we seen it with our eyes (Our own eyes) Do we really gotta bat for something like equal rights? How long will you stand by and act surprised when people riot? Do we really gotta bleed until it's fight in the streets For somebody to notice that we still ain't free? How many times you heard that I cannot breathe When we get stopped by police?"
[ ℗ 2020 12Tone Music, LLC under exclusive license from ALBDM Limited. ]
Hemi Moore posted a very personal and heartfelt letter on Instagram reading: “My name is Leveret Kelvin Kachingwe, I was born in Zimbabwe. Migrated to Britain at the age of 13. I am a story teller who also goes by the name of Hemi Moore. I pledge to be my brother and sister’s keeper. I won’t tear you down in a world that was designed to be against you. For you I will raise a banner till justice is served. For you I will soak my feet into deep waters. For you I won’t be tired. I will always wear you like a crown.” With another Instagram post 2 weeks later, he posted the announcement for his upcoming single “When?”. The sincere and honest caption reads “Not gonna lie to you writing this track has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Never thought in my songwriting life I will be doing something like this. I poured my heart and soul into this. We can’t be silent.”
"Man I'm tired of running from the men in blue The skin I wear on my bones is a target for shoot"
"Can you tell me When is it all going to end? Am I just another one? Am I just another one? When is it all going to end? Prisoner for another judge Bullet from another gun No, I can't breathe Oh, I can't breathe When is it all going to end?"
[ ℗ 2020 Hemi Moore. ]
Terry Ellis announced the song’s release on Instagram with an extensive caption detailing her personal emotions regarding racism and police brutality. “Racism did not go away. It Evolved. We wrote the song ‘Angry Black Woman’, 4 years ago based on what was happening at that time…well it’s still happening. It was born from an outpouring of emotions felt regarding the continued police brutality towards black people…my people. I wanted to give a voice to the hurt, pain, frustration and anger that I myself and so many of us are feeling right now. Whether we realize it or not, the cause of inhumane treatment will always create an unbalanced effect and unrest for all of us, mentally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. We must have justice or there will be no peace.” Plus, 50% of the proceeds from the sales of the song are being donated to the Mothers of The Movement, which is a movement created and compiled by mothers of victims of police brutality.
"Now a days I can't believe What's goin' on in front of me I don't wanna watch TV And find another casualty I don't wanna read the news My heart's already black and blue I'm puttin' on my combat boots 'Cause I got an attitude We're like soldiers forced to fight a war What the hell, I can't take it anymore 'Cause for so long we've been patient, now we're done Don't you even ask me when did I become Such an angry black woman"
[ ℗ 2020 Terry Ellis Inc./Pagani Records under exclusive license to the SoNo Recording Group. ]
Kemba posted 3 times on Instagram on the day of the release, with the first post featuring the single’s cover art which lists the names of those murdered due to systematic racism and the ridiculous reasons why each person was murdered (ex. Breonna Taylor- Asleep at home). For the second time, he posted the beginning of the song’s music video, which features images of each victim murdered due to systematic racism and the reason why they died, and the caption reads: “I made this to show that it’s almost the exact same cycle every time, from police murder all the way up to the officers’ trial. We see what they’re doing to us.” The final post includes the whole 2 minute music video, which also includes actual footage from the protests and associated news coverages, with the caption reading: “This song is a timeline of police killings. From the sadness of it happening, to the protests, to the officers usually getting no consequences at all. It’s a cycle. We’ve seen it 100 times before.”
"6 million ways to die I chose all Heart sunk deep in my chest, the phone call My knees got weak then I fled, and drove off A voice saying sorry to say this but man your son didn't make it And damn the videos taken it seemed awful Cops had a small altercation and teed off on him Spectators screaming and pleading to ease off of him Dammit there's three on top he's panicking. Panting to breathe Damaged in need of oxygen Manhandled and beaten he's bleeding and leaving consciousness Doing his best to scream with a copper's knee on esophagus Empty pleas for providence Saying please to the father he wondered what kind of god this is Without a second to swallow the news, all of the news cast crews passed through past to talk with you Politicians get called and the nearest alderman brought in the mix to comment on violence and how they should be accountable [...] The news putting up pictures of the one time your son Threw up gang signs 'cause he was young and he's just following ni***s [...] These white celebrities posting a pic of Martin And getting praise in the comments Like they was out there to march with that ni*** The city burning as we await for the verdict Please hope for the best but know to expect the worse shit Another killer walks off free, it goes on 6 million ways to die, I chose all"
[ ℗ 2020 Brown Skin Jesus. ]
Released on Juneteenth, “BLACK PARADE” has over 2 million plays on Spotify in just 3 days. Beyoncé chose to announce the song release on Instagram on the 20th in order to kick off Juneteenth weekend with the caption: “Happy Juneteenth Weekend! I hope we continue to share joy and celebrate each other, even in the midst of struggle. Please continue to remember our beauty, strength, and power. ‘BLACK PARADE’ celebrates you, your voice and your joy and will benefit Black-owned small businesses.” According to Beyoncé’s official website, “BLACK PARADE” benefits BeyGOOD’s Black Business Impact Fund, administered by the National Urban League, to support Black-owned small businesses in need.”
"Being black, maybe that's the reason why They always mad, yeah, they always mad Been past 'em, I know that's the reason why They all big mad and they always have been"
"Trust me, they gon' need an army Rubber bullets bouncing' off me Made a picket sign off your picket fence Take it as a warning"
"We got rhythm, we got pride We birth kinds, we birth tribes Holy river, holy tongue Speak the glory, feel the love Motherland, motherland drip on me Motherland, motherland drip on me I can't forget my history, it's her-story Motherland drip on me, motherland, motherland drip on me Honey, come around my way, around my hive Whenever momma says so, momma say Here I come on my throne, sittin' high Follow my parade, oh, my parade Talkin' slick to my folk, lift that lip like lipo Hear 'em swarmin', right? Bees is known to bite Now here we come on our thrones, sittin' high Follow my parade, oh, black parade"
[ ℗ 2020 Parkwood Entertainment LLC, under exclusive license to Columbia Records, a Division of Sony Music Entertainment. ]