In the weeks following the murder of Missouri teenager Mike Brown by Ferguson police there has been a measured response by members of the entertainment community to draw attention to the case. Talib Kweli and Killer Mike visited the troubled city and appeared on CNN to offer insight into why the community is outraged at the continued disregard for young black lives.
While MCs like the aforementioned have established themselves as voices of reason within the culture, there has been criticism of the more highbrow members of the rap fraternity for their silence on issues like this while diving head first (pun intended) into zeitgeisty extracurriculars like the ALS Ice Bucket challenge.
However, Compton rapper The Game rallied over a dozen rappers and singers to record a song called “Don’t Shoot,” a tribute song to Mike Brown and the unrest in Ferguson.
“The issues in Ferguson really hit home for me,” he told Rolling Stone. “and I feel compelled to use my musical platform to address this. I am a black man with kids of my own that I love more than anything, and I cannot fathom a horrific tragedy like Michael Brown’s happening to them.”
“It’s time to take a stand for our future…like we all got shot…like we shot…” the chorus sings over a plodding piano driven beat. While Game, Jeezy and Fabolous deliver serviceable verses, the effort is dragged down by Diddy’s gratuitous Ciroc plugs and the ghosts of their collective dedication to ignorance on wax up to this point.
While I applaud the intentions of this song, it feels a bit contrived when I know it will be business as usual for most of those involved a week from now. I’m not saying that artists known for “turning up” should not be socially conscious, their fans need to see this more than any. But if you’re going to do it make it a song they will play more than once. Groups like Public Enemy were masters at this because they fed you substance over really, really good music. “As the rhythm’s designed to bounce what counts is that rhyme’s designed to fill your mind.”
I hope these artists keep fighting the power, just come with better ammo than this. Molotov Ciroc bottles are not it.