As America continues to boil over in the aftermath of the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd, it’s no surprise that hip-hop has been quick to react to the situation. It’s been just over a week since Floyd’s death sparked protests across the country, and there’s already been a deluge of new music made to soundtrack these tumultuous times. Just yesterday saw the arrival of “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” a new track from Detroit rapper Teejayx6 and produced by TM88. It’s the latest George Floyd tribute from the hip-hop nation over the past week.
Prior to “BLM,” producer/composer Terrace Martin corralled Kamasi Washington, Denzel Curry, G Perico, and Daylyt for the nearly six-minute protest song, “Pig Feet.” “The message of ‘Pig Feet’ that I’m trying to get across is A, awareness, B, strength, and C, fearlessness,” Martin told Complex. “The song is very fearless. I want people to instill that in their lives. It’s okay to be fearful, but to be fearless is much stronger right now. So, instead of pumping out Kumbaya, I want to pump out awareness and stay ready for whatever. That could mean whatever you feel ‘stay ready’ is. But I’m ready. I’m staying ready. And, obviously, they’re [the police] staying ready, too.”
Closer to the actual cold-blooded murder is Minneapolis rapper Dua Saleh, whose new song “body cast” will generate funds for the Black Vision Collective: “We must take action to ensure the safety of our community,” the artist said in a statement. “We demand justice for the family of George Floyd and countless others who have had their lives stolen by the police.”
LA’s own YG is even more direct with “FTP,” a sequel of sorts to his 2016 track, “FDT (Fuck Donald Trump).” The new tune arrived as the rapper revealed that a planned protest in Hollywood at the intersection of Sunset and Vine was deemed “not safe” by local authorities.
Griselda’s Conway the Machine took time off from recording his solo album From King to a God to address anti-Black brutality in America with his own protest song, “Front Lines.” “The Amaud situation and Breonna situation and now George Floyd has brought me so much pain and anger because I’m a Black man: a father, a brother, I have 2 sons,” the rapper explained to Complex. “I wanted to give you the mindset from the protesters point of view, and I was able to paint that picture perfectly over this Beat Butcha production.”
Rap’s OG generation is well-represented by LL Cool J, who went old-school by hitting social media to deliver a highly emotional new rap in response to the ongoing systematic killing of Black people by the police with references to Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, and more.
The deluge of rap tributes to Floyd are appropriate, given his deep ties to the Houston hip-hop community. “This Friday was the first day that my own son had to come to the realization that, as a father of Black children, something could happen to his children in this world just because they’re black,” Bun B told Rolling Stone. “It actually brought me to tears for him, having that realization.”
For hip-hop listeners, this moment in time has provided a resurgence in older music that speaks directly to this moment. Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” has charged up the Spotify charts, with over 1.1 million streams, sending the track to the No. 2 spot on the chart. Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” saw a bump to the tune of more than 750,000 streams to land at No. 11 on the same chart.
Most poignantly, however, is the 1988 N.W.A. classic, “Fuck Tha Police,” seeing a 272 percent increase in online streams over the last week.