Over the last couple of weeks, America has been rocked by tragedy involving both Black men and police with the focus on police brutality, especially against Black people. Following the deaths of Baton Rouge resident Alton Sterling on July 5 and Philando Castile in Minnesota on July 6, both killed by law enforcement, plus a shooting in Dallas that left five cops dead, tension in communities has been at an all-time high. These incidents, while being put under a national microscope this month, are nothing new in America.
Never one to stay quiet, the hip-hop community has come out in full force to speak up about the injustice going on when it comes to police interaction with Black men and women. Rappers have spoken out and reacted through social media, songs and protests, sharing how fed up they are with seeing young men and women of color being murdered by the hands of officers who are sworn to serve and protect them.
West Coast rappers The Game and Snoop Dogg joined forces to organize a march on the LAPD headquarters after the killings of Sterling and Castile. In Atlanta over the weekend, T.I. took part in a protest so big that the protestors shut down an expressway entrance. And August Alsina and Ace Hood both did their part by participating in marches in Baton Rouge and Miami, respectively.
XXL is putting a spotlight on the many artists who have voiced their opinion in some way following these recent tragedies. Black Lives Matter.
After the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police officers, 50 Cent spoke out about these tragedies and police brutality in America at large.
“This is not a game out here, police have gotten away with shooting so many people and not being punished for it. People are fed up,” wrote 50 on IG. “I saw CNN report on Cops being shot and the sad part is my first thought was, Good because I’ve seen so many graphic images of cops wrongfully shooting people but when I think about it, the officers that were shot are not guilty of anything. They were protecting protesters. Their families must be devastated. My condolences to those families of the officers that lost their lives that night. But we also can’t ignore the fact that black people get treated unjustly by law enforcement everyday. My condolences also go to the families of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile.”
T.I. along with hundreds of protestors gathered at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to march. The rapper headed to the CNN Center before moving on to Williams Street near the Connector, where police met the crowd to form a blockade and keep them from entering the highway, reports WSB-TV. The standoff took place right around the corner from T.I.’s local restaurant Scales 925.
“If you enter the highway, you endanger your own life, the lives of innocent motorists & the lives of our officers,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed tweeted on July 8. “We are better than that.”
Lecrae takes to Instagram to share his feelings about the recent deaths and explains why saying "All Lives Matter" is wrong.
"#Philandocastile Arguments only prove my point," he wrote. "I will never stop. Justice. Side note the #AllLivesMatter hashtag is like spitting in the face of black folk. It comes off as extremely selfish and unsympathetic to a mourning person. Not because all lives don't matter. Of course they do. But it's very clear that black lives don't to many in this country. No one goes up to lung cancer patients and says "Folks with Breast cancer matter too!" #AllCancerPatients matter. That's Insensitive. True faith stands up for the oppressed and the broken. Obviously many can't see the systemic effects of racism and abused authority. Many can't see that racism has stained this country because they are privileged to not see it. Also Christians saying that " preaching the gospel is all we need" ignores how sin affects infrastructures and societal systems."
He also wrote an Op-Ed discussing how humility is the key to understanding race relations.
The good people of Miami organized a march against police brutality, with none other than Ace Hood among the thousands of peaceful protestors.
The We The Best rapper posted footage of the march on his Instagram page. In the clip he walks down a street which is flooded with a huge flock of multi-cultural protestors who are chanting “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!,” with raised fists. “U N I T E D. A Peaceful demonstration here In miami! #BlackLivesmatter."
Public Enemy member Professor Griff denied he knew Dallas shooter Micah Johnson after a photo of the two became widely circulated across the Internet.
Griff issued a statement through his personal Twitter account to set the record straight about Johnson, who killed five police officers and injured seven others in Dallas during a protest centered on police brutality last week.
“I will not sit back and let these people assassinate my character and tie me to the Dallas shootings,” Griff tweeted. “As you seek to detained Me and or arrest me, I will not sit idle and watch you frame me. The police and FBI have been watching me and tapping my phone they know who I talk too,” Professor Griff wrote. “I DO NOT KNOW THE SHOOTER.”
As Dallas police searched for the motive of Micah Johnson’s actions, they found the picture of him and Professor Griff on Facebook.
“The suspect’s Facebook account included the following names and information: Fahed Hassen, Richard Griffin aka Professor Griff,” a police statement read. “Griffin embraces a radical form of Afrocentrism, and Griffin wrote a book A Warriors Tapestry.”
Professor Griff has reportedly received death threats as a result of his name being connected to the shooter. Griff’s fellow Public Enemy member Chuck D criticized the media for spreading the photo and creating misinformation.
Jay Z dropped a brand new single on TIDAL called “Spiritual” following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. He also penned a message to fans that was coupled with the freebie.
"I made this song awhile ago, I never got to finish it," he wrote. "Punch (TDE) told me I should drop it when Mike Brown died, sadly I told him “this issue will always be relevant.” I’m hurt that I knew his death wouldn’t be the last…I’m saddened and disappointed in THIS America – we should be further along. WE ARE NOT. I trust God and know everything that happens is for our greatest good, but man… it’s tough right now. Blessings to all the families that have lost loved ones to police brutality."
The Roc Nation boss decided to do a little more by creating a special playlist on Tidal called Songs For Survival.
Desiigner didn't stay quiet and shared his sentiments on Instagram, sending a message to current and future cops following the aftermath of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
The Game and Snoop Dogg
The Game and Snoop Dogg organized a peaceful protest in their hometown of Los Angeles. They sent an announcement out via Instagram, urging residents to come out and demonstrate.
“Calling: ALL AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN, MEXICAN AMERICAN MEN & any other RACE of REAL MEN with heart to stand with us today & walk peacefully to the LAPD headquarters. [LEAVE ALL WOMEN & CHILDREN AT HOME… THIS IS OUR MISSION FOR THEM],” Game wrote in the above Instagram post. “Do not: bring any weapons or anything illegal. Do not come high or belligerent.. We don’t need any HOT HEADS or anyone there for the wrong reasons… We will stand as we are, UNIFIED.”
Once they got to headquarters, Snoop, Game and their crew watched the graduation services for the newest class of officers. Afterward, they walked into a press conference with the Los Angeles Mayor and the Police Chief. Compton rapper Problem also joined them on the podium.
Game responded to Alton Sterling’s death by posting on Instagram that action had to be taken against police brutality.
Z-Ro and Mike Dean
Z-Ro and Mike Dean deliver a powerful new song called “No Justice No Peace.” The nearly four-minute, anti-police record speaks on the injustices against African-Americans in the United States.
Mike Dean’s high-energy production serves as the perfect backdrop for Z-Ro’s hard-hitting lines.
Z-Ro spits, “No justice, no peace/It’s us against police/Every time I turn around, they shooting another brother down in these cold, cold streets/Shit, I can’t even go where I wanna go/’Cuz I might not even make it to the corner store/Maybe we all gon’ get shot I don’t even know no mo’/ They kill our kids, it seems like they don’t get to grow no mo’/And every time I see them cruisin’ in the hood/Bouta murder somebody thats what they doin’ in the hood/Then they wonder why I’m strapped when I be in there.”
He continues, “Then they wonder why we’re like, ‘Fuck the law,’/We ain’t callin’ y’all for shit, we don’t fuck with y’all/Mr. officer, crooked officer, it ain’t enough for y’all to keep all of us off of ya.”
August Alsina offered comment on the recent fatal incidents of police brutality, asking, “when do we stand up for ourselves? And show them what our lives mean to us?” but took things a step further by joining Louisiana residents and Black Lives Matter supporters at a Baton Rogue protest. His interactions with residents, including Alton Sterling’s aunt and the store owner who witnessed his death, can be seen on Instagram.
A video posted by The Shade Room (@theshaderoom) on
Joe Budden dropped a new freestyle over Beyonce’s “Freedom” instrument. Budden used old school imagery of the country’s Civil Rights Movement and Black Panther Party to give life to his bars. Budden also starts the video by sampling a portion of Diamond Reynolds’ Facebook live stream when she was reacting to Philando Castile’s death.
“Land of the Free, Home of the brave? Nah/They can’t let us be, we’ve grown from slaves/It’s there if you wanna read I mean, it’s all on the page/They say it’s police, I just know when it’s race/And now it’s thrown in our face/Maybe I’m lost or its the fighter in me/Sandra Bland didn’t come off as suicidal to me/Y’all play around thinking we’re on safe ground/They killed Tamir Rice right and his rights, right on his playground,” raps Budden, referencing other victims of police in recent memory.
Macklemore, who has participated in Black Lives Matter rallies in the past, and even penned a song about his experience, wrote on Instagram that police brutality will stop when White people care enough.
“What do we do in times like these?” he asks in the above Instagram post. “It’s a question for everyone, but specifically white people. The systematic oppression that enables a murder like this, will be corrected once white people care enough to change it.” He goes on, saying that the fear and hatred engrained into our society isn’t natural. “A person isn’t born fearing someone because of the color of their skin. This fear is taught, crafted and instilled in the fabric of our American lives. And although we make strides and progress is measurable at times, I can’t help but think….If I was put in the exact same situation that Alton was in, I would be alive today…Because of the color of my skin.”
Young Buck released “Riot" exclusively with XXL in the wake of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile’s murders at the hands of police.
2Pac can be heard at the beginning of the track saying, “I would rather tell a young black male to educate his mind, arm yourself and defend yourself than just sit there and turn the other cheek.” That intro gives way to sounds of people protesting in the streets, and soon Buck is firing off bars about how now’s not the time for peace, but resistance. The hook is self-explanatory – “Let’s start a motherfuckin’ riot!”
“Everybody waitin’ on a bullet/I’d just rather be the one to pull it/Don’t nobody wanna do the time/But somebody gotta go slang that iron,” raps Buck before gunshots ring out on the track. Then he tells Hov to hit Obama and tell POTUS that Buck’s about that action. “And for any artists that are feeling the same feelings as me,” Buck tells XXL, “the record is open for any remixes.”
Drake shared an open letter on his Instagram account, reacting to the death of Alton Sterling.
“It’s impossible to ignore that the relationship between black and brown communities and law enforcement remains as strained as it was decades ago,” he wrote. “This is real and I’m concerned. Concerned for the safety of my family, my friends, and any human being that could fall victim to this pattern.”
Chris Brown dropped a track titled “My Friend," following the police brutality incidents. “This song I released for free for anybody dealing with injustice or struggle in their lives,” he wrote on Twitter.
For his song, Brown captures the emotions involved in losing someone. The opening salvo displays that inner turmoil people experience during any type of loss.
“What was I thinking/Packing up and leaving/Now that you’re wiser/I’m ashamed, yeah yeah/I can’t even cry/Anxiety at night/Can’t make up excuses/Gotta face the music,” Brown sings on the opening verse.
Previously, Brown went on Instagram and voiced his anger after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile plus called on fellow celebrities to use their platform and help someone.
Lil Durk got a “Black Lives Matter” tattoo. Following the death of Philando Castile, the rapper was vocal on Twitter posting the tweet, “Police get away with murder.” It appears he took his emotions even further getting the BLM tatt.
The Chicago rhymer showed off his new ink on Instagram. In the short clip, he showcases his newly-stamped tatt, which contains a black fist surrounded by the words “Black Lives Matter” on his forearm. The caption to the video reads, “What’s going on today crazy to me in the world – we matter 2x.”
Oakland rap legend Mista F.A.B. decided to channel his reactionary emotions into a song. Laying it all out on wax, F.A.B. recaps the two murders of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile briefly. The track is named “6 Shots” because Sterling was shot six times in the chest by a police officer while laying on the ground.
“Woke up this morning and on TV saw a man murdered/Selling CD’s in front the store to get his fam further/Six shots to the chest in front of everybody/Dead on arrival, last breathe seen it out his body/His kids mama made a speech, that shit made me weak/He son broke down cryin’ live on TV/Later on that day seen a man get shot on a traffic stop/White America, when will this madness stop?/Same situation, black victim, white cop/Same scenario, six months later case dropped/I think it’s all apart a plan to start a civil war/Then implement Marshall Law, they knocking down our door,” raps F.A.B. in the first verse.
Following the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the five Dallas officers, Fabolous took to Instagram to write a long message.
Slim Thug released a new track called “IDKY” featuring XO. Throughout the nearly four-minute song, the Houston rapper speaks on police brutality against African-Americans throughout the nation.
Slim Thug raps, “I was born and raised in the USA/Where we see cops killing blacks on the news every day/And they do it like it’s okay, like they know they gon’ get away/To stop myself from thinking reckless I just ignore it and pray.”
The track comes right after the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge, La. police and of Philando Castile by a Falcon Heights, Minn. officer. In his SoundCloud caption, Thug writes, “I remember thinking in the last few weeks this song might be too late cause it’s been a minute since the last one and look here we go again twice in less than 24hrs … #BlackLivesMatter.”
Queen Latifah appeared on The Today Show lo promote her new film Ice Age: Collision Course. During her interview, the “U.N.I.T.Y.” rapper shared her thoughts on the recent deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and five Dallas police officers.
“I’m Queen Latifah, but I’m Black wherever I go,” she said. “I deal with the same experiences that other people deal with. I’m also the daughter of a cop, I’m also the sister of a cop, the cousin of a cop and the niece of cops. So, do I want the guns to now be turned on cops? I don’t want the guns turned on police any more than I want the guns turned on us.”
Queen Latifah stressed that there needs to be accountability for police officers’ actions. The actress explained that the frequent lack of punishment leaves the Black community with no hope for justice in these situations.
“Every time these things happen, no one is really brought to justice at the end of the day,” Latifah said. “By the time it’s all said and done, the police officers usually walk. And what it does is leave us feeling empty, feeling hurt and feeling like we have no recompense and that it’s going to happen again. And what it also does is endanger the life of police officers. It just creates more animosity. You make all these good cops have to walk out here dealing with bad cops’ BS, dealing with the stuff bad cops are doing.”
Swizz Beatz and Scarface
Following the aftermath of the recent police shootings, Swizz Beatz linked up with Scarface for a new record titled “Sad News.”
“This must stop,” Swizz wrote on Instagram. “[Scarface] and I have something to say today.”
"I often sit and wonder, could this world be mine?’/Nah, I’d be lying/If I said I ain’t heard ’em when they told me I was ‘just a nigga/Nothing but a burden to society," raps Scarface.
The Game and His Son
The Game and his son Harlem raised over $50,000 in monetary support for North Little Rock, Ark. cop Tommy Norman.
Norman has been in the news recently for his consistent acts of love and support for the mostly Black community that he serves. Game and Harlem came up with the GoFundMe approach in the hopes of helping Norman continue his good deeds.
The officer took to Instagram to thank both Harlem and The Game for their efforts. “What do I say? What do I do? As I type this I look into the sky & thank the man above for my heart to serve! But can I be honest? I don’t see what you see. I don’t see the amazement. Being on the inside looking out, and giving of my heart & soul for so many years is just a part of life for me. To grab the worlds attention? No way! A sincere thank you to @losangelesconfidential & his son @hvrlemtaylor for having faith in my mission & dream to change the world!”
Meanwhile, The Game took to his own account to further explain the decision. The “Hate It Or Love It” rapper wrote, “I had conversations with my oldest son @hvrlemtaylor about good cops & bad ones & he did his research & found officer @tnorman23’s page & i was touched by how active he is in the black community where he polices … My son said, how does he help all of these kids & stuff, is he rich ??? I said I don’t know if he’s rich but sometimes it doesn’t take much to help those in need son … Being that my son is on vacation with his mother visiting relatives in Atlanta, Arkansas & Louisiana he wanted to do something for officer @tnorman23 in Little Rock so he delevoped a #GoFundMe to try & raise $10,000 so that officer @tnorman23 can stuff his trunk with toys, goodies, food & other things to help him continue contributing to the kids & people in Little Rock Arkansas.”
Young Lito dropped a new track following the recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
To go along with the song, he wrote, "I wrote this the other day as I watched the news and saw two unarmed black men killed by the police. Being a artist wit a voice and someone that experienced the injustice of cops first hand I feel like I had to record it and share it wit y'all."
Baton Rouge native Webbie spoke to XXL exclusively about his thoughts following Alton Sterling's death. The rapper was very familiar with the 37-year-old man since he was a constant figure in the neighborhood. When Webbie found out about his death, the news hit home.
"People started calling my phone, then it hit the news. That’s what really let me know it was real. You know, being from Baton Rouge that shit was like some kind of magic or some shit. Like, you’d never think that shit would hit so close to home. You’d think that kind of shit would only happen outta town, you know what I’m saying? That shit made the worldwide CNN. Police done killed a Black man right there in my motherfucking neighborhood. That’s crazy, man.
Yeah, man. I been knowing him, shit, damn near all my life, my whole career. He used to sell CDs, you know what I’m saying? Like, little dude used to be posted up out there right outside that little store. He used to sell CDs so everybody know him, you know what I’m saying? Everybody in the city.
Me, personally, I don’t understand it. It’s hard to accept. Like I said, I had to come to Baton Rouge, everybody was already on their shit. I told you man, they rioting right now, they really out there. Like everybody done came together. They moving, still, everybody out there. For the first two days, you wouldn’t even see a police officer because of all of them people together and guns was spraying.
I think they just got the police from New Orleans or Lake Charles or something [for backup]. And to have friends probably innocent that’s incarcerated and the proof wasn’t even there that they really did the shit, you know what I’m saying? But they go “But they shouldn’t have murdered somebody, so you go to jail,” so let’s keep it like that. Rest in peace to the dead."
See Hip-Hop Artists Joining Protests After Police Kill Alton Sterling and Philando Castile