Last week North Carolina based hip hop artist J. Cole released a raw, solemn, and painful song in solidarity with the protests in Ferguson following the brutal shooting of Michael Brown. Cole released the song on SoundCloud on August 15th and as of today the song has been played over a million times. Cole accompanied his song with a short statement:
Rest in Peace to Michael Brown and to every young black man murdered in America, whether by the hands of white or black. I pray that one day the world will be filled with peace and rid of injustice. Only then will we all Be Free – Cole
The Atlantic reported that Cole’s only statement about the song was a passage that seemed to echo his exhausted rage of the ongoing murder of young black men in America.
As protest songs go, this is less a call to action than to empathy. Cole sounds exhausted. Accompanying the song’s release, his only comment was a brief written passage in which he recalls the wide-eyed idealism of being in college, driven to change the world:
“There was a time in my life when I gave a fuck. Every chance I got I was screaming about it. … But soon life hits you. … We become distracted. We become numb. I became numb. But not anymore. That coulda been me, easily. It could have been my best friend. I’m tired of being desensitized to the murder of black men. I don’t give a fuck if it’s by police or peers. This shit is not normal.”
Here’s J. Cole’s song if you haven’t already heard it:
Cole made a trip to Ferguson to witness first-hand people coming together to grieve, comfort, and protest what has become all too familiar – police shooting an unarmed black man to death. Cole steered clear of most media while he was in Ferguson, but he granted one interview to Complex News because a close friend of his worked there. Here’s that interview: