Black Music: A Continued Form of Resistance
African American music and artists made many strides in the 2010s in the genres of rap, R&B, neo soul and pop, just to name a few. One major trend in black music of this decade is the increasing number of albums and singles protesting against anti-black systems. Police brutality and the countless murders of unarmed African Americans have highlighted the systematic racism apparent within government institutions, namely. The candidacy and eventual presidency of Donald Trump also incited violence and justified, in a way, the racist actions of his supporters. For example, white supremacists who organized the violent Charlottesville Unite the Right rally said they were “fulfilling President Trump’s promises.” Trump continues to defend these white supremacists who caused violence and even death. Based on these circumstances, it is clear why so many black artists have used their platform and craft to call attention to the many injustices.
In 2015, Kendrick Lamar released the album To Pimp a Butterfly. He draws many connections between the slave trade and the entertainment industry. Additionally, the song “Alright” has become the anthem for the social movement Black Lives Matter.
In 2015, Usher released his first protest song titled “Chains” along with an interactive video available on Tidal. The video shows images of victims of police brutality such as Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner. By using the cameras on a laptop or smartphone combined with facial recognition software, the video pauses if you happen to look away from the screen. The idea behind this video and the hashtag, #DontLookAway, is to call attention to white America turning a blind eye to violence against the black community.
In 2016, Beyoncé released Lemonade. Although the album was centered around infidelity, it also celebrated her blackness and womanhood. She used her natural language and personal experiences as a form of activism. Also, in that year, her performance of “Formation” at the Super Bowl half-time show was a compelling display of black power as she and her dancers were dressed in outfits inspired by the Black Panthers.
In 2018, Childish Gambino released the single “This is America” along with a powerful video demonstrating the assault on black bodies in modern-day America. He responds to this violence in a sarcastic manner with the lyric, “get your money, black man.”
During slavery, music was used as way for black people to resist the oppression they were facing. Today, black music also serves as a form of resistance and will continue to do so in the future.
Corry, Kristin. “The 2010s Were the Decade When Black Protest Music Went Mainstream.” Vice, 11 Nov. 2019, www.vice.com/en_us/article/bjw4j4/the-2010s-were-the-decade-when-black-protest-music-went-mainstream.
King, Jason. “Activism, Identity Politics, and Pop’s Great Awokening.” Pitchfork, Pitchfork, 14 Oct. 2019, pitchfork.com/features/article/2010s-pops-great-awokening-black-lives-matter-beyonce-kendrick-lamar-solange/.