“This Is America” - Childish Gambino
Protest music has existed for centuries, through the ages of slavery, world wars, and civil rights, fueling movements risen from racist violence, gender inequality, and opposition to the Trump administration. Throughout the years, as protests have erupted across the United States — and the world — artists have gathered inspiration from movements, and activists have in turn chanted the lyrics to these songs of the streets. Here are 13 evergreen protest songs from throughout the years that demonstrate the intimate links between politics and music. Some argue that this is the most influential protest song of the 20th century, praising its ability to bring listeners back to the horror, rage, and sorrow of Jim Crow- era America. The song has been recreated, sampled, and re-recorded several times over the last century by artists such as Nina Simone and Kanye West , providing haunting reminders of the rampant racism that still thrives in the United States. In , actor Donald Glover, known by his musical moniker Childish Gambino, released this song accompanied by a powerful music video depicting the anti-black racism that occurs every day in the United States. As Glover dances to the melody, the screen fills with images of police brutality and mass murders, signifying how society just sits by as atrocities happen. On TikTok, many videos have cropped up with this tune as the blaring soundtrack. Originally released in in a biopic of N.
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The year began with a prominent lefty website bemoaning the death of protest music; we disagreed , and boy, do we need that stuff now more than ever. Nothing is going to get better if Donald Trump is, as expected, sworn in on January Not art, not the life it imitates, and that goes especially for those who were oppressed even during the only eight years a black man ever ran this country. They confront, with humor or anger or beauty, nearly every issue that came up in , from the seemingly minute to the unspeakably horrific. May the catharsis of this art, and the art borne out of whatever comes next, prop up our sanity. May it grant us the strength to keep going in a tunnel whose opening light has yet to appear. Thundering drums and triumphant horns herald the arrival of a now-guaranteed cataclysm.
Rodney King was savagely beaten by members of the Los Angeles police in March , and the whole incident was caught on camera. The subsequent acquittal of the officers in question on 29 April caused many to accuse the LAPD of institutionalised racism and sparked the worst riots in the US since the s. Rage Against The Machine's classic track was released in November that year and compares such racism to the notorious cross-burning activities of the Ku Klux Klan. In , the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change issued its third report and came to the conclusion: "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the [global] warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities". One of the more oblique protest songs on the list, Black Francis ponders the destruction of the ozone layer and the oncoming environmental apocalypse in terms of the Old Testament "numbers" for Man, God and the Devil. Needless to say, monkeys and simians of all kinds, one presumes do not fare well and end up kicking the bucket. As Britain's inner cities burst into flames in the summer of , with riots taking place in London, Bristol, Liverpool and other locations, Specials leader Jerry Dammers captured the mood of the country with the ominous sound of Ghost Town.