Roughly mid-year and 2020 produced the unexpected, from a COVID-19-induced global lockdown to protests around the world condemning racial injustice and police brutality.
As recently as last week, George Floyd, a resident of Minneapolis, was killed after a white policeman, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for several minutes. The incident sparked riots, fires, looting and apparently the courage of foreign onlookers to be so passionate about the injustices in their home countries.
Jamaicans, for example, are rallying for justice for Susan Bogle, a disabled August Town resident who was killed in a joint police / military operation last week in St Andrew’s. Flaming protests even continued yesterday in the community of Waltham Park, following the fatal police shooting of resident Jermaine ‘Shawn’ Ferguson.
Music has often been presented as the voice of the human spirit and a unifier of nations. On that premise, here are 10 songs that best tell the story of the era.
Get up, get up, Bob Marley and the Wailers
The last song performed live by Marley (Visit of the insurgency: Pittsburgh, 1980), Get up, get up is undoubtedly the consummate hymn of protest. Written by Marley and Peter Tosh in 1973, the track was inspired by political turmoil and the struggle against minority groups like the Rastafarians who were invading Jamaica at that time. His words, urging everyone to boldly stand up for what they believe in, remain timeless.
Revolution, Dennis Brown
Are you ready to stand up and fight the good revolution?
Are you ready to stand up and fight him like soldiers?
Many are called, few are elected …
Brown’s words from 1983 are relevant today, as social media posts condemn those who remain silent in the fight against racial crimes. Brown balances his critical issues with an overarching message of love and oneness, claiming that loving yourself is the only sure way to live forever.
Blood, Junior Reid
Reid’s trip to England inspired this plea for unity in 1980, where he witnessed tensions between blacks and the police. The singer said Observer for Jamaica that he observed the hostility in downtown Jamaica upon his return, and also learned of the bloody violence between American gangs. Teaming up with producer Gussie Clarke, he recorded the track, which reminds people that they are all descended from one entity and bleed from the same blood, which should be reason enough to live in peace.
Equal rights, Peter Tosh
I don’t want peace
I want equal rights and justice
Stepping Razor’s words reflect âNo justice? No peace âsing the protests underway in the United States, denouncing the murder of George Floyd. Equal Rights is the title track from Tosh’s 1977 album, and reflects the political “sh * stem” he shamelessly spoke against.
Is it because i am black, Samory I
Soul reggae singer Samory I’s rendition of Sly Johnson’s 1969 classic came as West African migrants were publicly bought and sold in modern Libya slave markets in 2017. Illustrating the inequality that haunted blacks for centuries, Samory I belt:
Something is holding me back
I wonder, is it because I’m black?
Somebody tell me what i can do
Will I survive or will I die?
Young, talented and black, Bob Andy, Marcia Griffiths
The takeover by the former duo of Nina Simone’s hit earned them fifth place in the UK rankings in 1970. But its ranking has nothing to do with its message. In the wake of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, the song serves as a lyrical affirmation of black pride and identity, an empowering statement to uphold during these times.
War, Bob Marley
Until the philosophy that holds a race
Higher and another Lower
Everywhere is war
I say war
Marley’s chant of Haile Selassie’s 1963 United Nations speech could never be more widespread than it is today. The track paints a striking portrait of the bloody revolt that is occurring over the division, inequality and injustice resulting from religion, classism, racism and political ideologies.
unleashed, Bob Andy
Just take off these chains
And set me free
Take me out of bondage
And we will be okay
Too long I have been a slave
I don’t want to be anymore
I prefer to dig my grave
Than to be locked behind a door …
Andy passed away in March, but his cries for liberation and equal opportunity are immortalized on this track.
Bill of rights, Abyssinians
Has taken us away from civilization
Brought us into slavery on this great plantation
We get agitated and we fight among ourselves
Nothing to do like that, it’s worse than hell, I say
The band’s second release, the 1971 single, also inspires people to take a stand and fight for their rights, which can only be successful if everyone is unified.
Serve and protect, Queen Ifrica
Ifrica questions the role of the police and its motto “serve and protect”, in an environment where the opposite seems to be happening. The song, released a decade ago, vividly matches the murder of American Breonna Taylor, who was shot at least eight times when police forced their way into her Louisville apartment in March without properly identifying themselves. .
A criminal element alone does not like the law
So why the majority call you assassin
I think we need to hurry and solve the puzzle yeah
Remember that our duty is first to uphold the law
No matter how it cuts, you gotta think before you draw
When people nuh them with you then the criminal claps
So nuh open my door when you come inna mi yaad …