Protest Songs to Jam to

Protests are usually only seen in an unfavorable light. The truth of the matter is that protests are what built our country. Peaceful, thoughtful protest is a constitutional right that helps keep our country great. With that said, here is a playlist to inspire the budding protester in you.

‘A Kindly Reminder’ – Passenger

A song that issues a reminder to every person, no matter their gender or position of power, that “it’s not okay to grab women by the vagina.”

This relaxing and chill song, acoustic in nature, shows that a protest doesn’t have to be loud and out there — it just needs to get a voice heard.

Most powerful line: “You’re filling up hearts with fear and hate,” which communicates to audiences that hate can’t run the agenda in the U.S.

‘Immigrant (We Get the Job Done)’ – K’NAAN, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, Residente

This song, straight out of the musical “Hamilton,” is a bilingual hip-hop piece that highlights everything that immigrants have done and continue to do for countries around the world.

Most powerful line: “Buckingham Palace or Capitol Hill / Blood of my ancestors had that all built.” This line ensures that if you take nothing else away from the song, you know that the world around you is more often than not built on oppressive forces.

‘Strange Fruit’ – Nina Simone

This old school throwback is a remembrance of a sadder and more overtly racist time. The “strange fruit” that gives the song its name is a reference to the mass amount of lynching happening during that time.

Most powerful line: “Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,” which not so subtly references the lynching problem.

‘They Don’t Care About Us’ – Michael Jackson

A song by the “King of Pop” himself has a solid beat that anyone can get down with. The song covers protesting the way society will consistently put you down, showing its disheartening lack of care for individuals. It doesn’t matter who you are, what community you belong to or how you express yourself, society just won’t care.

The song also brings up the problem of police brutality in minority communities.

Most powerful line: “Tell me what has become of my rights / Am I invisible because you ignore me?”

‘F— tha Police’ – N.W.A.

This song is about if you fall victim to racial profiling by law enforcement officials. N.W.A. highlight the unfair treatment of young black men by police, which, according to the song, includes searching their person and cars for narcotics without reasonable suspicion.

Most powerful line: “They put out my picture with silence / ‘Cause my identity by itself causes violence,” which again states that the black community is somehow connected to this idea of violence in the eyes of law enforcement.

‘Killing in the Name’ – Rage Against the Machine

This song reiterates the message that the people we put in authority are the same people that are out advocating for discrimination and burning crosses.

Most powerful line: “You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites,” which attaches the white race to negative practices.

‘The Blacker the Berry’ – Kendrick Lamar

This passionate rap pairs black pride with shame the artist feels for reinforcing some of the negative stereotypes surrounding the black community. He specifically cites the death of black teenagers by police as being saddening, but he struggles to feel remorse for violent acts he says he’s committed in the song.

Most powerful line: “How can I tell you I’m making a killin’? / You made me a killer, emancipation of a real n—-,” which epitomizes the constant struggle the artist feels within himself.

‘We the People….’ – A Tribe Called Quest

This almost mechanical sounding hip-hop jam attempts to bring the U.S. into focus with their actions, calling out the nation for its racism, homophobia and other failings. Listening to the song may make it hard for some to believe in a Constitution that doesn’t uphold every citizen’s rights as intended.

Most powerful lyric: “All you Black folks, you must go / All you Mexicans, you must go / And all you poor folks, you must go / Muslims and gays / Boy, we hate your ways / So all you bad folks, you must go.”

‘The Message’ – Grandmaster Flash

This iconic rap from the early days of hip-hop, known for its lyric of “Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge,” opened the discussion to the popular media of discrimination and how it couldn’t be tolerated much longer, foreshadowing events and protests to come.

Most powerful line: “You’ll grow in the ghetto livin’ second-rate / And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate,” which highlights the chronic problem of societal and self hatred.

‘FDT’ – YG, Nipsey Hussle

Listen and see.

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