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The Song of Ferguson

The Song of Ferguson

Source: - Saturday, August 16, 2014
Yesterday rapper J. Cole released a song in response to the murder of Michael Brown. Since its upload to the music streaming site SoundCloud, "Be Free" has already been played almost half a million times. In keeping with its soul as a real-time protest song, the recording is raw to the point you can hear papers shuffling, the turning of musical pages that would normally be edited out. Ben Sisario at The New York Times drew a parallel to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's "Ohio," which in 1970 took weeks to reach the public. Better than describing the song, here it is: As protest songs go, this is less a call to action than to empathy. Cole sounds exhausted. Accompanying the song's release, his only comment was a brief written passage in which he recalls wide-eyed idealism of being in college, driven to change the world: "There was a time in my life when I gave a fuck. Every chance I got I was screaming about it. ... But soon life hits you. ... We become distracted. We become numb. I became numb. But not anymore. That coulda been me, easily. It could have been my best friend. I’m tired of being desensitized to the murder of black men. I don’t give a fuck if it’s by police or peers. This shit is not normal." Huy Mach/St.Louis Post/AP "That coulda been me" works for Cole, but not for most of the country. So there's this song, the protests, as revitalization of will to feel injustice when it's not so overt that it makes the front page

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