US musicians add voice to Baltimore protests

May 15, 2015

Prince at the 2015 Grammy awards: “Albums still matter. Like books and Black lives, albums still matter. Tonight and always.”

“The death of Freddie Gray while in police custody and the ensuing unrest surrounding it have prompted another round of musicians to speak out on the value of black lives and on racial issues in America,” the Los Angeles Times said on May 5.

The article said that Prince's representatives confirmed on May 1 that the enigmatic star would dedicate his forthcoming song “Baltimore” to the people of the city where Gray died. The track will “address various social justice issues, including the disproportionate killing of young black men in America”.

The LA Times said: “At the Grammy Awards in February, Prince invoked the protest slogan 'Black Lives Matter' while onstage as a presenter, adding his voice to the ongoing protests sparked by the killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson and Staten Island by law enforcement last year.

“Since the slaying of Trayvon Martin in 2012, rappers and other music artists such as John Legend, Common and J. Cole have become more vocal about the need to reform a system that disproportionately finds people of colour the victims of poverty, crime and what many see as an unequal justice system.”

The article said rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube has tweeted eerily similar photos of riots in Baltimore circa the 1960s and photos from today's unrest, with the caption “Then and now.”

Rapper Killer Mike, from Run the Jewels, wrote an op-ed in Billboard about the crisis in Baltimore, criticising the unfair coverage of protesters.

He highlighted the coverage of Fox News talk show host Geraldo Rivera and CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer, “because they're players in the game that sensationalizes and objectifies this in the worst ways — I don't trust … that they want to see the change”.

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