Part II – Birth of a Protest Song
I already spoke about what this video means, and why I think it’s meaningful/valuable, over at my friend Katelin’s blog (on race and religion) By Their Strange Fruit . Here, on my own blog, I’m going to be a little more self-indulgent and talk about the interesting and unusual way this song/video was created.
Last week I covered how the fiverr website allowed me to play producer and have my alt-classical tune “Drunken Drive” remixed into a massive dubstep rave. It still, however, felt like something was missing, so the next step was to add a rapper (or eventually three).
As a philosopher, I didn’t want another trite song about wealth and sex, so I asked vocalists to dig deep and bring me something socially conscious. Not surprisingly, considering recent headlines, Jay Hollin, the first rapper to turn in his work, had police brutality on his mind. Ray Pearson then added his verses, which not only echoing Jay’s sentiments, but adding his own lament on the subject of black-on-black crime. Finally 59’s Finest delivered a stark and powerful hook inspired by the Ferguson-protests chant of “Hands up, don’t shoot!” but ultimately delivering a universal message against gun-violence in any place and from any source.
With the track finished, I sent it off to yet another fiverr producer for a music video. When I saw the finished product, my jaw dropped. To me, at least, I felt I was seeing something powerful, important, unexpected:
Before this process, I had only known the protests, in Ferguson and elsewhere, through images on the media, doing their best to paint a standard-issue picture of riots and looting, and through tweets on twitter, which offered a no-less chaotic counter-narrative of fascism, aggression by the authorities, and journalists roughed up, threatened and jailed. In this video, however, I saw something completely different –a peaceful assembly of people of all races and nations, coming together in service of a moral vision and a commitment to the sanctity of human life of every hue. It was a glimpse that any of us who weren’t personally at the protests might never have otherwise seen.