As XXL continues to document hip-hop's response to the protests on home soil, here are some of the most poignant reactions to the unrest happening in Ferguson, MO.
Aug. 11Killer Mike speaks out
After two days of anger and resentment began piling up with almost no response from the hip-hop community, Killer Mike becomes the first big rapper to speak out (outside of Twitter and Instagram RIPs) against the nonsensical killing of Michael Brown in the middle of a street in Ferguson, MO, by redirecting the light onto the grieving parents whose child was shot in broad daylight. "Look at the pain of this mother, look into her eyes," Mike wrote on Instagram. "Look at the Man behind her. Look at that father made helpless and hurt that he cud not defend his seed. Don’t debate. Don’t insert your agenda. Save me the bullshit Black On Black Crime speech and look at these to Noble creatures called humans and look at what govt sanctioned murder has done. It has robbed them of their humanity and replaced it with pain and shame, suffering and hurt. I don’t care if others rioted or why. I don’t care that ball players and Rappers are what they shud be. I care that we as humans care as much about one another more. I care we see past Class, race and culture and honor the humanity that unites our species. Stop talking and LOOK at these PEOPLE. LOOK at these HUMANS and stand with them against a system allows a Human PIG to slaughter their child. Forgive any typos love and respect u all."
"Man I straight Lewinsky these bitches, get brain and bust on they clothes / Might be my last night, got gas and shit for the glass pipe"
Aug. 13David Banner On CNN
Two days after tweeting about how black men have to watch what they wear and that black kids "see no value" in their lives, David Banner goes on CNN to speak about his tweets, which he said were taken out of context, and apply the rhetoric to the situation in Ferguson. "So many people have bought into this Americanized system, and America historically has always tortured, killed, and enslaved black people. And I have not forgot that," he said while on a panel discussion. "The thing that America is telling our children, and this is the sad part, is black folks if you don’t make me comfortable, we will kill you."
Big Boi, Common, Questlove, Q-Tip and more react on Twitter
As peaceful protests devolve into tense standoffs with police involving rubber bullets, tear gas and the arrests of journalists who should have been protected by the First Amendment, many rappers take to Twitter to voice their concerns, displeasures and outrages as things take on a more riotous feel. "the mask has officially been pulled off the police state. no more ifs, ands or buts. this is reality and always has been," tweeted El-P; "remember the mistakes you made you've grown from? Well brutality isthe mistake of a human dressed as a police but u don't grow from gunshots," said CeeLo Green; "THINGS ARE GETTING OUT OF CONTROL WITH THIS POLICE SHIT !!" added U-God.
Aug. 15J. Cole releases "Be Free"
J. Cole's track "Be Free," and its accompanying note, are a call for justice for Michael Brown, complete with the hook, "All we wanna do is break the chains off/All we wanna do is be free." "That coulda been me, easily. It could have been my best friend," Cole wrote in the letter released with the song. "I’m tired of being desensitized to the murder of black men. I don’t give a fuck if it’s by police or peers. This shit is not normal. I made a song. This is how we feel."
TDE's Punch releases "Prelude" and "1965"
TDE co-president Punch continued his run of releasing tracks himself rather than sitting behind an executive's desk, and he dropped two songs in one day aimed at the idea that what happened in Ferguson is an echo of things that have been happening for decades. "1965" in particular intersperses archival audio about looting in previous riots with news reports and clips from speeches from Martin Luther King, Jr., while "Prelude" is a hard-hitting rap aimed at the struggles of coming up in the projects.
Frank Ocean questions Ferguson
Frank Ocean may be one of the least vocal members of the hip-hop community, particularly in the past two years, but he takes to his preferred form of social media, Tumblr, to ask some questions about the increasingly ineffectual press conferences that continue to occur in Ferguson. "You see that black woman standing up there? I wonder if she was called to stand behind the governor because she’s black," he wrote. "I wonder if i’m supposed to think Missouri’s gov’t is pro-black because of her being stood up there with those other black men being all black and everything. I wonder if she was off the clock while she stood up there. If she was off the clock..then i wonder if she was getting paid for her time off like the guy who shot Michael 8 times. What’s that guy’s name by the way?"
Aug. 16Lil Boosie performs "Fuck The Police" at Baltimore show
Lil Boosie—who has a few bones to pick with the cops himself—takes the stage in Baltimore and revs up the crowd by saying, "I know y'all been watching the news, right?!" before launching into his Webbie-assisted 2009 track "Fuck The Police."
Nelly calls for calm, starts Mike Brown scholarship fund
Probably the most famous rapper from St. Louis, Nelly, finally speaks on the situation, calling for calm and strategy as a public backlash begins against protestors looting local businesses during the unrest in Ferguson. "I understand the frustration, but we have to strategize before we overreact," he said to TMZ. "We don’t get no do-over on shit like this, so we have to do it right the first time." He also announced that, in conjunction with Brown's family, he was launching a scholarship fund in Mike Brown's name dedicated to helping send kids to college, and had received donations from T.I., Kevin Hart and basketball player Al Jefferson. “And even though we all make mistakes, he did have positive things that he wanted to do," Nelly told Billboard. "And I think it’s important that we expand on what he wanted to do in a positive nature and send, not just kids from his area, but kids from all over who have that mentality onto a better place so we can change the outcome."
Aug. 17Wale, Chris Brown, Trey Songz and more stand with Ferguson
Following a charity football game organized by Chris Brown and attended by Wale, Trey Songz, Shad Moss and Game, Nelly leads the crowd in a tribute to Mike Brown and Ferguson. “If anybody can sympathize with what my city is going through, it’s this city of L.A. right now on so many levels,” Nelly said to the crowd. “So for that respect alone, I’m asking you, I’m begging you, and I’m pleading for you to just raise your hands for a second.”
Aug. 18Talib Kweli pledges to go to Ferguson
As protests continue to intensify, Talib Kweli takes to Twitter to list 10 reasons why he's heading down to Ferguson to be among the protestors. "Tweets that arent connected to a movement can lead one to falsely believe they've done enough. I need to put my money where my tweets are," he starts off, before continuing. "Artists who make money off the community are obligated to be there when the community is being brutalized," he tweeted, and, "I have a son Mike Brown's age. It could've been him." According to his tweets, Kweli is scheduled to get in to the town today, Aug. 19.
J. Cole visits Ferguson
Over the weekend, as many across America sit glued to their televisions screens awaiting more information coming from the town, J. Cole visits Ferguson and spends time amongst the people and protestors staking their claim against the police. “We was passionate,” Cole said in an interview while on the street. “But life goes on and niggas start worrying about Instagram and reality TV … and life happens. Unfortunately, last week, it was the same ole, ‘Damn, that’s fucked up.’ This week, it’s like, ‘What can we do?’”
G-Unit releases "Ahhh Shit"
G-Unit's steady return continued with "Ahhh Shit," a new track aimed squarely at the injustice of Brown's murder, underlined by the hook, “Now why the fuck did you call them cops?/Put your hands up and you still gettin' shot/Here they go now they out on patrol/They done killed a few, they finna kill some more." The track, in typical Unit style, names names and addresses specific situations rather than dancing around any issue. Potent and chilling.
Sage The Gemini, Iamsu! and Killa Kyleon denounce Ferguson looting
While out on Wiz Khalifa's Under The Influence Tour, Sage, Su and Killa all denounce the looting happening in Ferguson while urging the African-American population to band together and rappers to exercise their voices. "It's a time for all of us to stick together, especially Black people who are reacting out of passion," Su said. "But we have to love each other and build something together." Kyleon, meanwhile, had words for other rappers, saying, "I think rappers are getting away from the fact that their voice means something... It shouldn't take a Mike Brown for us to stand up and speak and tell the youth."
Aug. 19Diddy calls out Barack Obama
Following two equally ineffective speeches by the President, Diddy takes to Instagram to call out Barack Obama for his lack of leadership over the Ferguson incident. “Look at this shit, man,” Diddy says as he’s watching Ferguson footage on his TV. “Obama—for real—get on a plane. These are your people. It’s serious baby.”
Cam'ron calls Mike Brown murder "messed up"
Killa Cam gives an interview calling Brown's murder "messed up," and then spares some choice words for his fellow New Yorkers and their lackadaisical attitude towards police violence and brutality. “It happens in New York a lot and we’re quick to sweep it under the rug. But we’re quick to jump on the Mike Brown bandwagon,” Cam says. “You got niggas getting killed by police daily and we don’t say shit.”
Related: J. Cole Visits Ferguson And Shows Support For Michael Brown
Puff Daddy Calls On Barack Obama To Help Ferguson
10 Reasons Why Talib Kweli Is Going To Ferguson
Nelly Speaks On Ferguson Protests, Pledges To Create Scholarship Fund In Mike Brown’s Name