From “The Times They Are A-Changin'” to "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" to “Fight the Power,” every generation has had pop anthems to go along with its political movements. With passions running high in the wake of the Eric Garner and Michael Brown grand jury decisions, Roots drummer Questlove is wondering: where are our protest songs? "We need new Dylans," he said on Instagram last week. "New Public Enemys. New Simones."
In his post, Questlove challenged artists and musicians to “push themselves to be a voice of the times they live in” and write new protest songs. He explains, “When I say challenge I don’t mean breathless race to the finish on who makes the more banging 'Fuck Tha Police' sequel. I mean real stories. Real narratives. Songs with spirit in them. Songs with solutions. Songs with questions. Protest songs don’t have to be boring or non danceable or ready made for the next Olympics. They just have to speak truth.”
Is there a protest song that resonates with you right now? Have you written one? Share it with us in a comment at the bottom of the page.
Our friends at WNYC's Brian Lehrer show led a thoughtful conversation on the topic that inspired us to look further. Songs about these recent events have already been released by Alicia Keys, J. Cole, and G-Unit, but artists from all walks of life have taken to Soundcloud, YouTube, and Bandcamp to add their voices to the mix. Here's a sampling of new protest songs that caught our attention. Is one of them the "We Shall Overcome" of our time?
Ace Hood “Pain produced by The Order”
Trip Lee “Coulda Been Me”
Yaves “Keep My Peace”
Kasim Allah “Eric Garner”
Amhed Sirour “The Mourning After”
Snowflake “Six Naked Heroes”
Rising Sun All Stars "I Can't Breathe"
Emma Miller "Michael Brown"