10 Modern Black Lives Matters Anthems | Article by Indie Accent


10 Modern Black Lives Matters Anthems

Writer Aradi Priyanto


In solidarity with Black Lives Matter and the current wave of protests not only demanding justice for George Floyd but an end to police brutality and racial inequality, here are 10 songs from rising African-American artists that’s themes are about the issues their community face and are out there protesting now.

Whilst all being great tracks and a testament to the creativity of the artists, the stories they tell in them are what is important for us to listen to and learn from at the moment. Music after all, has always been the best tool to reflect and convey the emotions of one person, and in this case, an entire community.

Joey Bada$$ - LAND OF THE FREE

A young voice at just 25, His powerful album ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ is one for the times that tackles the issues currently faced by African-Americans, namely police brutality, systematic racism and white supremacy in the era of president Donald Trump. He mentions the late Alton Sterling, one of the many black men, like George Floyd, who have been killed in the hands of the police.

LAND OF THE FREE, one of the songs off ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$, alludes to both historic racism in the form of slavery, lynchings, segregation and so on and contemporary racism, mentioning the poverty and the lack of opportunity in Black communities and how mass incarceration often times rips them apart.

Solange – F.U.B.U.

Her last two albums, A Seat At The Table and When I Get Home, explores not only what it meant to be black in America, but more specifically what it means to be a Black woman in America. She talks of how devalued they are, asserting not only their beliefs and values as well as their right to be angered and upset.

Both albums are also very experimental, incorporating the genres that have been the staple of African-American music and culture, such as funk, R&B, soul and jazz. F.U.B.U, is a Black empowerment anthem, on everyday racism and discrimination experienced by Black Americans, regardless of wealth or status, and how to communicate the many feelings of outrage and anger caused by it.

Blood Orange – Sandra’s Smile

The project of Dev Hynes, whose work has always been thematically strong, covering his experiences with, and view on, black oppression, with his album Freetown Sound being the best example of that. he talks everything from racial injustice, referencing the death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin, to racial inequality. On Negro Swan he shares his experiences being black and queer.

In 2015, he released Sandra’s Smile, an ode to Sandra Bland, a Black woman who was found dead in her jail cell after wrongful detainment. He voices his frustration and anger of the mistreatment of African Americans in the hands of the police, and how it should become a source of strength for the community.

Vince Staples – Hands Up

He has often included themes of life as a Black man in America in his flows, often commenting on the inequality they face and how the violence and crime in their communities, as well as issues such as racial profiling and the issues surrounding black culture such as cultural appropriation and whitewashing.

Hands Up is a starker example of him speaking up on issues facing the Black community. It is a protest aimed at the police, in which he touches on how Black people are more prone to stop and searches and harsher sentences than white people. Hands Up takes a double meaning, he’s not talking about crowds and concerts, but more surrendering to the police to avoid getting fatally shot.

Buddy – Black

Another young voice, at 24, the Compton, California rapper’s debut album Harlan & Alondra has been called an ode to black excellence. A creative mix of rap, R&B, soul and funk, he talks of politics, and talks of his experiences and giving a social commentary on growing up in the Los Angeles county.

From Harlan & Alondra, Black explores many faucets of being lack in America, from a cultural, symbolic and historic point of view. With the help from A$AP Ferg, the tune talks everything from black history from the past vast wealth of African empires, to the treatment of slaves, lynchings and hangings, and mass incarceration to the racial profiling which lead to the death of Trayvon Martin.

Noname – Blaxpoitation

Inspired by her personal experiences as an African-American woman, her music delves into personal experiences facing both everyday misogyny and racism. On debut album Telefone she talks about black women, as mothers and grandmothers, their hope and pain in raising families in the difficult backdrop of police brutality and poverty, violence due to institutional racism.

Her album Room 25 broadens the context, talking politics and stereotypes on Blaxpoitation. The title and theme comes from the famous 70s movie genre, which had Black people as the heroes but often stereotyped their characters. It is seen as a reflection of the treatment of Black people and their culture now.

Terrace Martin – Pig Feet

A multi-instrumentalist, singer, rapper and producer that had helped produce some of Kendrick Lamar’s most socially conscious albums such as good kid, m.A.A.d city and To Pimp A Butterfly, both critically acclaimed, must-listen albums for an in depth artistic look into the struggles of African-American life.

He has also released his own material, this time roping in star names, namely rapper Denzel Curry and saxophonist Kamasi Washington on Pig Feet, a hard-hitting track protesting police brutality. The track was released in the midst of recent protests. As the title suggests, as well as protesting racism by the police and the injustice that comes with it, it voices their dismay at systemic racism.

Chronixx – Black Is Beautiful

An artist whose music is described as reggae revival, a genre which has been significant in Black culture and continues to be. Blending it with hip-hop and R&B, the Kingston, Jamaica native has continued to have socially conscious themes and lyrics in his songs, both for empowerment and protest.

Black Is Beautiful discusses the meaning of Black beauty. He addresses the importance of breaking down racial prejudices and just embracing their Black skin, their natural beauty and power, as well as embracing Black culture and Black history, even the struggles, as he mentions the hundred years of slavery and assassinations civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Rapsody - Power

She is a voice for Black power, but also more importantly Black women power. Each song on her latest album Eve is named after influential African-American women, from civil rights activists, athletes to singers, taking inspiration from their strength and power standing up to racism and sexism in their journeys.>

Power is a Black power anthem. With the help of Kendrick Lamar and Lance Skiiiwalker, it dissects the idea of physical and mental power. They rap about the sense of power and authority police have and how they abuse it, the strength and power that African-Americans have garnered from years of oppression, and the power of expression they gain through their music.

Leon Bridges – Sweeter

The soul singer recently opened up about being personally touched by George Floyd’s death having faced racism growing up in Texas. His music reflects that and his golden voice reminds many of the Black artists who were the sound of the 60s civil rights movement, greats such as Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke.

Originally meant for an upcoming album, he released Sweeter, earlier, having been emotionally moved by Floyd’s death and the current protests. He has stated that Sweeter is an anti-racism song that’s for healing and meditation, as he tries to speak on the pain, anger, and diminished hope Black people around the world are feeling at this time, as incidents like these keep reoccurring.