John Legend's Ferguson Statement & What Other Musicians Are Doing to Raise Awareness
Many celebrities have already been doing what they can to lend more exposure to the protests and retaliation by police happening in Ferguson, Missouri. They've been taking to social media to express their outrage, and celebrities like Nelly, J. Cole, and Talib Kweli are already on the ground in Ferguson. But many celebrities, specifically musicians, are finding more creative ways to protest police action in Ferguson. Whether it be through appearances in concert, interviews on the news, penning op-eds, or writing songs, many famous musicians are finding their own ways to express their frustration.
These stars are going beyond social media and using their skills and celebrity to bring more attention to this fraught issue. Whether you're a fan of their music or not, you can't deny that these musicians are doing what they can to help a cause they're dedicated to, and that's pretty admirable. Their words and songs cover everything that's wrong with the police action being taken in Ferguson: the militarization of the police, the criminalization of black men, the shootings of unarmed American citizens like Mike Brown and Eric Garner. So hopefully, these artist's contributions will bring more attention to just exactly what's wrong in Ferguson, Missouri.
Not only is the North Carolina rapper already on the ground in Ferguson, last week he recorded a song in tribute to Mike Brown, the victim of the police shooting that started the protests in Ferguson. He posted the song to SoundCloud with the 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"
The R&B crooner has already been outspoken about Ferguson on Twitter, but Legend took his activism a step further at a concert in Los Angeles Wednesday night. Not only did Legend wear a black t-shirt emblazoned with the words "DON'T SHOOT," not only did he have contemporary poets perform works in response to the classic Marvin Gaye song "What's Going On" that touched on Ferguson and the state of racism in America, but he topped it all off with a cover of "What's Going On."
The Atlanta rapper has been using seemingly every media outlet to speak out about the police shooting of Mike Brown: first on Instagram, then penning an op-ed for Billboard , and finally appearing for an interview on CNN. In his op-ed, the rapper made it clear that he is going to continue to speak out about the militarization of the police: "As an American today I simply say: Enough! My rights are precious, and I value those provided to me through the United States Constitution so much. I will never take a day off policing the people we pay and keep a public trust with. I will use my camera, my pen, my pad and my network to do my part, to make sure that American will no longer fear their government."
50 Cent even re-formed G-Unit with Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks to record a song in response to police shootings of black men called "Ahhh Shit." The song samples the last words of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old asthmatic man who died after being put in an illegal chokehold by a police officer.
R&B singer Lauryn Hill has also released a song in tribute to Ferguson. Titled "Black Rage (Sketch)" and sung to the tune of The Sound of Music's "My Favorite Things," Hill posted the previously unreleased song on SoundCloud with a statement: "An old sketch of 'Black Rage,' done in my living room. Strange, the course of things. Peace for MO." Hill has also posted the lyrics on her website, and they're both incredibly passionate and a sobering look at the state of race in America.