In honor of the 59th Grammy’s tonight, I wanted to highlight the way in which artists have adopted a passion for creating socially conscious music and giving a voice and sound to the movement. Many artists have successfully produced songs that have grown popular in the past years and had undertones (as well as overtones) of political rhetoric calling for justice, liberation and equality.
Many of these songs have been praised as protest anthems. Their lyrics have been taken to the streets and incorporated into protest chants. In the recent Love Trumps Hate rally that took place at Purdue in November, students chanted “We gon’ be alright, can you hear me, can you feel me, we gon’ be alright” lyrics from a popular Kendrick Lamar song.
Several of the organizations on campus I have been a part of have constructed playlists of “protest songs” and I wanted to share a few of my favorites. The Rolling Stone published a list of 22 protest anthems that speaks to the power of these songs and their relevance in the movement.
This song by J.Cole was released after the death of Michael Brown. This song discusses the need for liberation as well as characterizes the experience of seeing black people die regularly at the hands of police.
Solange Knowles delved into the idea of hair politics and the way black women find identity in their hair. It also discussed the power of black women in the movement and how they express that power.
Jamila Woods sang about carceral policies and state sanctioned abuse to the tune of Miss Mary Mack. This song ended with a narrative talking about shared expereinces of black individuals.
Kendrick Lamar created one of the most notable protest anthems to date. This song not only discusses the systemic issues that oppress black folks but also offers hope and encouragement to persist.
This song by TI walks individuals through the crime scenes of black men and women killed by police. It breaks down the need for change and calls people to action.
Comment below your favorite protest anthems and expand your minds and playlists.