This is a music blog. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about current events. Music was never just entertainment. Music has always tapped into the politics of the day. And there has been some incredible musical offerings in the wake of Mike Brown’s murder. The upheaval in Ferguson has tapped into many deep emotions and has put a spotlight on society. At its center, we must remember this is about an eighteen year old, unarmed, boy, shot many times and killed. The protest in Ferguson is about this. But radiating out from this event is outrage that this situation happens again and again to the black community. Every 28 hours a security officer kills a black man. The protest in Ferguson is about this. The protest has been handled horribly by those in authority. It is an understatement to say that riot police using surplus military gear received from the Department of Defense have escalated tensions between community members and police. Incidents of police brutality multiply every night. The protest in Ferguson is about this. The riot police have teargased reporters, moved reporters into acceptable zones, threatened to kill reporters, arrested reporters, and blocked aerial reporting by turning Ferguson into a no fly zone, calling significant question about transparency and the freedom of the press, not to mention freedom of speech. The protest in Ferguson is about this. The KKK raise money to “reward” the officer who shot Mike Brown, news outlets slander Brown’s character to justify his execution, and people point to cases of looting to discredit the cogent complaints of the protesters. Racism is alive and well, in a society that denies its existence out of a fear of being personally called racist. We are all racist because we were raised in a racist society. Being called racist is not nearly as painful as experiencing racism. This conversation needs to happen.
Music is one place where this conversation happens. Music is not always serious and music is not always positive, but it is a reflection of life and truth. As Shaun King puts it:
If Ferguson is America's selfie, then Hip Hop is America's Sistine Chapel – a beautifully painful portrait of the highs & lows, good/bad.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 21, 2014
There have been some beautiful, heart breaking, enraged, thoughtful, and intense musical offerings in the days following Mike Brown’s murder. Twitter directed me to many songs, some through articles from the Riverfront Times and St. Louis Public Radio, some from the artists, some from people such as Shaun King tweeting about the situation. I have compiled a few of them here. Please share any others in the comments. I do not have too much to add to these artists’ messages. Let their lyrics share their words, let their music share their emotion. Listen.
Here are Ms. Lauryn Hill‘s words and music. Listen.
An old sketch of Black Rage, done in my living room. Strange, the course of things. Peace for MO.
Here are the words and music of Mvstermind in collaboration with Mir, Con and Ciej, who together form the St. Louis based collective MME. Listen.
It has started, play your part, assemble and create change for the better of humanity.
Cover the Perspectives.
Brutality breeds immorality.
Here are B.o.B‘s words and music. Listen.
Here are the words and music of St. Louis based artist Hitman Holla. Listen.
Here are the words and lyricism of St. Louis based artist Prince Ea. Listen.
A poem about Michael Brown.
Here are J. Cole‘s words and music. Listen.