6 Powerful Protest Songs Released in Support of #BlackLivesMatter
always been at the forefront of major social movements.
There’s no denying the power of music and its ability to
convey different feelings, whether negative or positive. The
#BlackLivesMatter movement, protesting police brutality and the
injustices faced by Black Americans, has become re-energized in the
last few weeks, and artists have not let this go by unnoticed.
Celebrities have been huge supporters of the movement and the
protests, often showing solidarity by being activists on social
media and protesting. But a notable few have released powerful
anthems to draw more public attention to what’s going on
today, and we’re mesmerized. Let’s get into the five
chillingly beautiful songs released in honor of
1. “Black Parade” by Beyoncé
Bow down to Queen Bey, everyone! We haven’t been blessed with a soloBeyoncé song in almost a year, and the wait was so worth it. She released “Black Parade” on June 19 to celebrate the important holiday of Juneteenth, which commemorates the day slavery officially ended in the United States in 1865. Beyoncé has always been openly proud of her black heritage, and she posted a touching message to fans on her Instagram saying, “Please continue to remember our beauty, strength and power.”
And if you need more of a reason to love the Queen, her official website states that the song’s proceeds will benefit her initiative, "BeyGOOD’s Black Business Impact Fund, administered by the National Urban League, to support Black-owned small businesses in need.” Her website also has a directory of black-owned businesses for consumers to support.
The song references the rich history of Black Americans by reminding us “We birth kings (We birth kings), we birth tribes (We birth tribes),” and on her website, Beyoncé reminds fans that, “Being Black is your activism. Black excellence is a form of protest. Black joy is your right.” The Beyhive expressed their excitement and feelings about the song on Twitter, and not one negative review was seen!
Now, take a second to imagine how iconic the live version of “Black Parade” will be. We’re so excited! Slay, Queen B!
2. “I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R.
Grammy-winning artist H.E.R. was not about to sit
in silence too. “I Can’t Breathe” demands an end
to police brutality and includes everything the #BlackLivesMatter
movement is fighting against. She took a rawer approach with a
painful song inspired by George Floyd andEric Garner, whose last words were “I
can’t breathe” when they were killed by police
brutality. The melody and the background vocals are chill-inducing
and truly beautiful, coupled with the deep lyrics calling out years
of racial injustices and systemic racism. H.E.R. reminds those who
do not show solidarity and “refuse to remember” the
victims that they were people with families, a name, and a story,
and that silence is not excusable whatsoever.
What makes the song even more powerful is the emotional third verse where she’s deservedly fed up with everything going on and tells us that we should also be fed up. H.E.R. says, “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,” referencing the popular phrase during the Civil Rights Movement, which was further immortalized byGil Scott Heron in the song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”
In an interview with ELLE Magazine, H.E.R. said, “With everything going on in this country, and even in this world, as an artist, I have a responsibility to write about it and make people aware. Music heals, it teaches, and it sometimes creates change."
"With everything going on in this country, and even in this world, as an artist, I have a responsibility to write about it and make people aware. Music heals, it teaches, and it sometimes creates change." - @HERMusicxhttps://t.co/spy3AVevHX— ELLE Magazine (US) (@ELLEmagazine) June 24, 2020
Listeners call the song a “future classic soul protest song” and it is just that. We see another Grammy or two in H.E.R.’s future!
That H.E.R track 'I Can't Breathe' is a bonafide, future classic soul protest song, the pain in it, jesus https://t.co/uYBhKmevQi— Roisin O'Connor (@Roisin_OConnor) June 19, 2020
3. “The Bigger Picture” by Lil Baby
Lil Baby is one of the many celebrities who’s been protesting and has been vocal about police brutality and systemic racism. He filmed the music video for “The Bigger Picture” at the Atlanta protests in early June and shortly thereafter delivered the song, which tells the story of what it’s like to be a Black man in a country with racial tensions and prejudices.
The intro induces serious goosebumps and is a reminder that we’re experiencing a crucial moment in history, and it brings us back to what kickstarted the new wave of protests—George Floyd’s death. Lil Baby does not hold back at all, and we’re here for it. It’s refreshing to see a song with a relatable message that can apply to millions of people, and he tells us that he’s experienced racism all his life too. He highlights the unfairness of the justice system and says, “They killing us for no reason / Been going on for too long to get even / Throw us in cages like dogs and hyenas / I went to court and they sent me to prison.” He even calls out the fact that many black Americans are “products of our environment” and in certain circumstances that are completely out of their control, yet they get blamed for it.
Lil Baby also highlights the fear and anxiety faced by Black Americans on a daily basis with the lyrics, “I see blue lights, I get scared and start runnin’ / That sh*t be crazy, they ‘posed to protect us.” In the chorus, he says, “It’s a problem with the whole way of life,” and although change won’t come immediately, the protests are a good place to start.
don’t have to be a hardcore fan of Lil Baby to appreciate the
powerful message of his new song. Fans across social media are
praising the rapper for capturing what it’s like to be a
person of color in the United States. There’s no denying that
Lil Baby snapped with this #BLM anthem!
Everyone on Twitter need to go listen to “the bigger picture”-lil baby. Then you’ll understand what it means to be a person of color ?@lilbaby4PF— Kellon McCleon (@kellon_02) June 25, 2020
If you not bumping Lil Baby - The Bigger Picture & not actually listening to what he’s saying , something’s wrong. He’s really talking facts on this Jawn— Naz♠ï¸ (@NazirStreater) June 16, 2020
4. “Snow On Tha Bluff” by J. Cole
J. Cole has also been protesting racial injustices, and he took a different approach to his protest song and it’s… WOW, amazing. “Snow On Tha Bluff” is enlightening and its namesake is that of the 2012 drama film about a robbery and drug dealing in Atlanta. But the song seems to be inspired by Noname, an American rapper and political activist from Chicago, whose tweets have received backlash for their controversial content, though J. Cole hasn’t verified this theory. Most notably, Noname criticized top rappers for not using their platforms to bring attention to the #BlackLivesMatter movement in a deleted Tweet that read, “Poor black folks all over the country are putting their bodies on the line in protest for our collective safety and y’all favorite top selling rappers not even willing to put a tweet up. n****s whole discographies be about black plight and they no where to be found."
recognizes that Noname is angry at what’s happening and says,
“She mad at these capitalists, mad at these murder
police,” and that she’s mad at the ignorance of rappers
for not doing enough activism. He takes a moment to ask her how
she’s going to attack the very same people who she wants to
be more vocal and that she should help educate the rappers instead
of dissing them, but at the same time he respects and understands
her. He urged his fans to follow Noname in a tweet because he
believes she’s doing more to help than he is.
Follow @noname . I love and honor her as a leader in these times. She has done and is doing the reading and the listening and the learning on the path that she truly believes is the correct one for our people. Meanwhile a nigga like me just be rapping.— J. Cole (@JColeNC) June 17, 2020
In the song, J. Cole also realizes that he could have been doing more to help #BlackLivesMatter and that he feels like he betrayed his fans by saying, “I done betrayed the very same people that look at me like I’m some kind of a hero,” and that “deep down, I know I ain’t doing enough.” In the last verse, he begs the listener (or Noname) to walk with him so that he can be filled with wisdom and courage, possibly to try to work together to fix the deep-seated racial injustices in the country or to at least talk about them. It’s not every day you see an artist being publicly as vulnerable as J. Cole and it’s admirable.
5. “I Cry” by Usher
Usher has given us some nostalgic bangers over the years to help us heal over heartbreaks, and his newest single, “I Cry”, will soon join that list. That man always knows what to say and how to get the tears rolling, so grab your box of tissues and prepare to cry. The upbeat piano melody is very late-2000s Usher and is coupled with his smooth signature voice that just tugs at your heartstrings in a weird way (but we’re not complaining).
In a Twitter statement, Usher said he was inspired to write the song because he wanted to teach his sons that “it is ok for a man to feel emotions deeply and to cry.” He added that all the events that recently transpired, like George Floyd’s death and the “slaughter of Black men and women, the protests and the events that unfolded,” he became “very connected to the wider universal feeling of hopelessness.” Usher took advantage of his platform to draw attention to the sons and daughters that families have tragically lost to police brutality and violence.
Like Beyoncé, Usher also Tweeted that the proceeds from the song will go to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to help support “Black-owned small businesses and Black-led community organizations.”
My proceeds from the record will be donated to@lisc_hqin support of Black-owned small businesses and Black-led community organizations. To make a donation visit https://t.co/rPfpZteRg9. pic.twitter.com/KxAy1DoZnk— Usher Raymond IV (@Usher) June 26, 2020
Justin Bieber showed his support for “I Cry” in a Tweet that called Usher his “big brother” -- aww!
My big brother @usher just dropped #Icry - Proceeds from the record will be donated to @lisc_hq in support of Black-owned businesses. Also watch his performance Sat during @glblctzn’s#GlobalGoalUnite concert. #usher#icry#blacklivesmatterhttps://t.co/woXFblMwLL— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) June 26, 2020