Lyrics are poetry, but they are also a rare opportunity for Black artists to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences surrounding police brutality and criminal profiling. As tensions persist between marginalized communities and those who police them, well-informed and well-meaning lyricism can go a long way. Check out these songs about police brutality by brave artists who chose to speak their truth.
1. Woop-Woop! Sound of Da Police
KRS-One put all the pieces together for us with his lyrics like, “‘officer’ from ‘overseer.'” His words would sound like a silly conspiracy theory if the implications weren’t horrifying. “You need a little clarity? Check the similarity!/The overseer rode around the plantation/The officer is off, patrollin’ all the nation!”
2. Martial Art
Run the Jewel’s song features a music video which uses dance to symbolize the seemingly never-ending struggle between Black people, specifically Black men, and the police. In addition to a stunningly controversial music video, this track has savagely political lyrics to match. “Liars and politicians, profiteers of the prisons/The forehead engravers, enslavers of men and women.”
3. Remembering Friends
This Latin-American rock song articulates universal concerns over state-sanctioned violence with introspective Spanish lyrics. “Los que deben proteger/Hacen lo pouesto/Matan inocentes!/Those that are supposed to protect/Do the opposite/They kill the innocent!” As well, the background instrumentals on this track are life affirming.
4. Beat it like a Cop!
Leave it to Lil Wayne to write an entire song as an extended metaphor. Maybe Lil Wayne really did fall in love with a police officer, or maybe it is the rapper’s covert way of sharing his opinion on the police in general. Either way, “all she want [him] to do is f*** the police!”
5. All I Wanna Say
This classic protest jam includes many overlooked lyrical gems. The King of Pop’s words reflect his love for the people. “I’m tired of bein’ the victim of hate.”
Let us know what songs about police brutality get you the most riled up.