North Carolina rapper J. Cole, with a heavy heart, pleads for the police to find value in black life on the song “Be Free.” The Roc Nation artist also pleads for the freedom to live. The sparse beat provides an open space for Cole to deliver simple yet poignant lyrics like, “All we wanna do is take the chains off/All we wanna do is be free.”
The cover for the single is the chilling photo of Brown’s lifeless body on display in the middle of the street as a cop stands nearby (too soon). A message appears on the photo, “Rest in Peace to Michael Brown and to every young black man murdered in America, whether by the hands of white or black. I pray that one day the world will be filled with peace and rid of injustice. Only then will we all Be Free.”
Singer Elle Varner took a more general approach to her protest song. While many are solely focused on the shooting of Michael Brown, Varner wrote a song talking about peace all over the world. “One Love” finds the jazz-influenced chanteuse imagining a world where guns aren’t necessary and speaking respectfully to one another is the norm. Before releasing the track, Elle stated, “Over the past few tumultuous days I have prayed long and hard for Mike Brown’s family, the people of Ferguson, and the families of many others we have lost due this horrific death pattern. With persistence, strategy, and intellect, we can not only obtain justice for Mike Brown but we can effectuate changes that will prevent these things from happening again!”
What do you think of the songs? Do songs like these really help the cause?