Jay Z, Miguel release protest songs in response to police shootings
Amid a week of police- and race-related gun violence across America, two big names in rap and hip-hop have dropped new protest songs about the madness.
Jay Z released a meditative track called Spiritual, on his Tidal streaming service (though it's free for everyone to stream). And R&B singer Miguel wrote, recorded and posted a rough cut of a song called How Many that he said was written in direct response to this latest round of violence.
"This verison was started (written/recorded) here in London in my hotel room between the hours of 4 a.m. and around 7 a.m. when I passed out," Miguel wrote. "I'll update this song every week until it's complete. Please feel free to share. #blacklivesmatter."
Over a dreamlike production, Miguel sings: "I'm tired of human lives turned into hashtags and prayer hands / I'm tired of watching these murderers get off ... I wonder how many black lives, how many black lives / how many heartbeats turned into flatlines / how many black lives, how many black lives / does it take to wake the change?"
Jay Z's song arrived the same day his wife, Beyonce, paused a concert in Glasgow, Scotland, to remember two of this week's shooting victims, Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. The singer also posted an open letter about the shootings on her website, reading: "We are sick and tired of the killings of young men and women in our communities."
Spiritual reflects on the "trans-generational trauma" of violence, shattered families and his own anxiety over raising daughter Blue Ivy. Click here to hear it.
"I am not poison / Just a boy from the hood that got my hands in the air in despair, don't shoot / I just wanna do good," he raps. He also seems to express remorse for his own past involvement in guns and drugs: "This is the real me unfold / Gangster is love, I'm thuggin', I'm huggin' / This is tougher than any gun that I raised."
Spiritual may be Jay Z's first new single in years, but it isn't actually a new song. As he wrote on Tidal: "I made this song a while ago, I never got to finish it." He was encouraged to release it after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, but replied, "'This issue will always be relevant.' I'm hurt that I knew his death wouldn't be the last."
He continues: "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."
-- Jay Cridlin