TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2017 |
Posted by: Jack Labbe
We are about to inaugurate our 45th president and it's a desperate time for so many. With politics that aim to exclude, separate, and move backwards we have a lot of work to do to make sure that our president doesn't define our country. Rapper and spoken word artist Ayoinmotion recently released a video entitled, "Outrage on the Front Page" examining a country that doesn't hold officers of the peace accountable for their actions and allows police shootings to dominate the news. This Lagos born artist said in a statement to Baeble:
"We're in the midst of trying times, and our protests mean nothing unless we make our voices heard every single day. When we give in for a week, normalcy returns, the media forgets, and the population's outrage becomes nothing more than a passive discontent. That doesn't work."
We've compiled a few songs that made social justice their main focus, to show how music can change the world.
Fela and the Afrika '70 were a Nigerian group that pioneered the genre that we now know as Afro-beat. Fela became an immense symbol and activist for human rights in Africa. The album Zombie was released in 1977, amidst rising tensions between Fela and the Nigerian military. The Nigerian government was corrupt at this time and frequently violated the rights of it's citizens, prompting Fela to write Zombie, a song that equated their soldiers to "Zombie's" who just do what they're told. The popularity of this release led the military to send 1,000 soldiers to attack Fela's compound, where they severely beat him and threw his mother out of a window. The military then finished by burning his home to the ground. Fela went on to record more albums protesting the government and stand up for the people of Africa.
"We Shall Overcome" became an anthem and rally cry for the American civil rights movement in the 1950's and 60's. The song descended from a hymn by Charles Albert Tindley called "I'll Overcome Someday." The song as we know it today was first sung during a tobacco worker's riot led by Lucille Simmons in 1945. Because of how easy "We Shall Overcome" is to teach and sing, along with Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and other folk singers who added this song to their repertoire, this song became a national rally call to the oppressed. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. even recited the lyrics to the song during his last sermon before he was assassinated in 1968.
"Strange Fruit" was made famous by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. The lyrics were written by Abel Meerpol, a white man from the bronx, were first published as a poem. The lyrics act as an anti-lynching protest, relating the bodies of African-American lynching victims to "Strange Fruit." Billie Holiday's raw vocal timbre embodied the dark lyrics and that made this another anthem for the civil rights movement. This song was recently in the news when Rebecca Ferguson said she would only sing at Donald Trump's upcoming inauguration if she could sing "Strange Fruit."
"Queen" by Perfume Genius is a contemporary gay-pride anthem. The Seattle chamber-pop artist released this song in 2014 and said that the song acts as a response to what he calls, "gay panic." "Sometimes I see faces of blank fear when I walk by," he explained in a press release. "If these fucking people want to give me some powerif they see me as some sea witch with penis tentacles that are always prodding and poking and seeking to convert the muggleswell, here she comes." With lyrics like, "no family is safe / when I sashay" his message comes through loud and clear.
"Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela)" was a anthemic protest song written by Hugh Masekela. It was penned in 1986 while Masekela was exiled from South Africa because of the apartheid regime. The song gives the demand to bring Nelson Mandela back to Soweto, Johannesburg, it then became an anthem for the anti-apartheid movement. Nelson Mandela went from 27 years in prison to become the 1st President of South Africa.