Juneteenth 2020: Alicia Keys, Anderson .Paak, Wale and more drop powerful songs addressing police brutality
Juneteenth, a day commemorating the emancipation of the last enslaved African-American people in the US, is being celebrated extensively this year
R&B and hip hop artists are showing up for Juneteenth with bop after bop this year. From the likes of Alicia Keys and Victoria Monet to Anderson .Paak, African-American music legends are dropping tracks, one after the other.
Juneteenth, on June 19th, is a day that commemorates the emancipation of the last of the enslaved African-American people in the United States. While it has been celebrated in different ways since its inception in 1866 following the declaration of the emancipation of all slaves in the Confederacy on June 19, 1865, as well as the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States on December 6, 1865, which marked the official end of slavery as it existed up to that point in the United States, Juneteenth 2020 is particularly special on account of it falling in the middle of a global revolution that has seen mass protests in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement. This marks one of the largest attempts at eradicating racial disparity, particularly with regards to incarceration and police brutality, making this Juneteenth one that sees a greater sense of community than ever before.
And so, without further ado, here are some of the best releases of Juneteenth 2020.
Alicia Keys: 'Perfect Way To Die'
Keys originally penned the track following the killings of Mike Brown (who was killed by police in 2014) and Sandra Bland (who was found hanging in her jail cell in 2015 after police stopped her for a minor traffic violation and detained her for three days). Speaking to Trevor Noah on the Monday night episode of 'The Daily Show', Keys stated, "You hear these stories, and you hear their stories in these lyrics and the devastating thing is that it's never not going to be relevant. And where we are right now, in the world and in this country, in American particularly, we are in a real, a real place that we can all see that this is the most major pandemic of all. This deeply rooted racism, this police brutality, this treatment of black people that is just completely unacceptable. To the point where daily we are seeing lives lost, people murdered for... nothing, nothing. For being black."
For Keys, the track embodies the passion of the nationwide protests. Fans are already praising the emotional ballad, stating, "This song, written about death through police brutality in the US, is absolutely heartbreaking @aliciakeys does it again. Such a moving 3 minutes." One fan stated, "Perfect way to die by Alicia Keys is literally so beautiful," while another shared, "I love the song and the lyrics. "A perfect way to Die." I have been waiting for a song like this. 2020 has been in hell."
Anderson .Paak: 'Lockdown'
.Paak delivers some of his most hard-hitting lyrics to date on this stunningly smooth track. .Paak makes direct references to everything from the deaths of black people at the hand of police and the Black Lives Matter protests to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, and he blends all these themes together totally effortlessly, resulting in an emotional track that has fans in tears.
Along with the track, .Paak also dropped a music video for 'Lockdown' which has .Paak and his friends Jay Rock, Syd of The Internet, SiR, Dominic Fike, and Dumbfoundead all head over to a diner after a protest where the nurse their wounds and sing and rap about police brutality. It includes a verse from Rock that isn't in the original studio version of the track. The video ends with the Black Lives Matter logo, built out of the names of people who have lost their lives to police brutality, as well as a 'with love from' note featuring the signatures of various artistes. In a post-credits scene of sorts, .Paak is seen writing 'Lockdown' at his piano and accidentally waking his son up, following which the two are seen embracing as .Paak is in tears. The message of this song is crystal clear, and fans can't help but find themselves being moved by the tune.
"Anderson Paak for the win," tweeted one fan, another said, "The new Anderson Paak is my soul music," and one shared, "Yeah Lockdown by Anderson .Paak is beautiful. After watching the video I couldn’t help but cry honestly." Fans are also calling .Paak a "genius," praising the song and video for having a "powerful message."
Wale: 'Wow... That's Crazy'
Rapper Wale has been on a break since his 2019 album 'Wow... That's Crazy' and for anybody that was aching for new music from him, he is here to deliver: his surprise EP 'The Imperfect Storm' dropped today featuring six new tracks that provide a stunning commentary on the current sociopolitical commentary in America, including highlighting the BLM protests as well as calling out white privilege and 'fragility' via lyrics like "So Karen in her feelings. We made Wendy’s the new Target."
Fans, who have been waiting patiently for Wale's return, tweeted, "@WALE!!!!! I prayed for you baby," as well as "This new Wale is what we need right now." One fan shared, "Wale snappeddddd on his Imperfect Storm EP," another commented, "Wale with new heat," and another shared, "Thank you for always making such beautiful music at all of the right times, @Wale."
The album additionally features an image of the aftermath of a riot. Bobby Hundreds, co-founder of streetwear brand The Hundreds tweeted, "Wale's new album features the photo of our store the night of the Fairfax riot. The first track has a nod to my essay."
Victoria Monet, Khalid, and SG Lewis: 'Experience'
After hinting at the song via recent tweets, Monet and Khalid were all set to drop 'Experience', though the decision to release the track wasn't without debate. Monet tweeted out a statement on June 16 stating the artistes had considered delaying the release on account of the "disgusting and confusing state of the world." Her statement then shared they had decided releasing 'Experience' was the right thing to do, stating music was a "form of escapism from troubling things" and adding that the song was "joyful and celebratory." Monet also highlighted that June was both Black Music Month and Pride Month, and she felt it was necessary to celebrate her identity as a queer person.
The smooth, upbeat, groovy track is perfect for the summer, but it also has a deeper message of change and the desire for progress, making it just as appropriate for the times. The track has already found fans, with one tweeting, "Victoria’s first mainstream hit coming yup yup," another stating, "Really loveeeeeee this song," one sharing, "She’s done it again," and another declaring, "My girl victoria NEVER disappoints."