The Music Industry Responds to Ongoing Black Lives Matter Protests in America

Everyone from Killer Mike to Hit-Boy and Tyler, the Creator.

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The music industry observed “Black Out Tuesday” on June 2 in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black Americans. Major labels, publishing and public relations companies and artists took a day to provide a space for the voices who need it most, sharing the message of solidarity in the fight against racism. Everything from music and video releases to publicity updates were put on hold, allowing individuals to focus more on the issue at hand.

On top of aligning with the industry shutdown, many artists have taken initiative to further support the Black Lives Matter movement by sharing their personal statements, joining the street protests in their local communities and donating to relevant organizations. For the individual, here are resources on how to stay informed, vocal and safe.


Killer Mike

Run The Jewels member Killer Mike, who is the son of and is related to several Atlanta police officers, spoke an emotionally-driven speech at the Atlanta mayor’s press conference. He began with the story of how the first few African American police offers in Atlanta had to suit up at the local YMCA because the white police officers didn’t want them to get dressed in the same area. Fast forward to 80 years later, the world watched how a white police officer murdered George Floyd. Killer Mike continued his speech in tears, asking the police department to bring back the review board in order to stay ahead of the curve. “We don’t need an officer that makes a mistake once, twice, three times and finally, he kills on national TV, and next thing you know the country is burning down,” he said. The following week, Killer Mike appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and further explained his speech, adding, “No, we don’t need you to stay out of the way, What I need you to do is send financial help to some of the organizations I just named, because those are the organizations on the ground. Then get your butt down there and help those organizations in the physical.”


JAY-Z

JAY-Z‘s Roc Nation took out full-page ads in major newspapers like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Atlanta Journal-Constituion in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The ad features a speech that Martin Luther King, Jr. made in March 1965 in Selma, Alabama with signatures of other supporters, organizations, lawyers and family members of DJ Henry and Antwon Rose.


Noname

Noname continues to champion social justice reforms, utilizing her platform as a continuation of her Book Club initiative in a call to action for her followers to, “consume more revolutionary content.” She continued, “Don’t allow this moment to be filtered through the establishment class media outlets.” Her latest recommendation: Blood in My Eye by George L. Jackson. “Pessimism is a tool of white supremacy. They don’t want to be imaginative about a world free from genocide, wealth hoarding, patriarchy…” she tweeted. Her words are as pointed and poignant as ever, and Noname continues to be a valuable recourse about where to donate and which worthwhile causes to contribute to. She hasn’t minced words about criticizing celebrities who are currently silent either.


Earl Sweatshirt

Earl Sweatshirt spoke out about reforming the criminal justice system earlier this year, hopping on the remix of currently incarcerated rapper Drakeo the Ruler’s “Ion Rap Beef”. He continues to share reading resources and amplifying important voices on the frontlines of the current wave of protests. He even shared a broad outline of the Posse Comitatus Act, which should have prevented the recent willful use of American armed forces on peaceful protests. “Time to be cunning. Today isn’t yesterday, for real.”


Beyoncé

After husband JAY-Z took out full-page ads in major newspapers, Beyoncé released her own statement calling for justice for George Floyd and leading her social media followers to sign a petition given that the battle for equality “is far from over.” Beyoncé called upon everyone, regardless of background, nationality or ethnicity to contribute leading up to the 2020 Presidential Election in November. “We cannot normalize his pain.”


Solange

“There aren’t enough words or the right words that could begin to touch the pain of watching our people breathless, life leaving their bodies,” Solange said. The singer-songwriter cleared her entire social media feed to post the message, starting with the black square in solidarity with Tuesday’s Music Industry Black Out. What followed were a stream of messages in her Instagram post highlighting other important statements. On Twitter, she tweeted at Louisville’s Mayor and Governor Andy Beshear demanding that Breonna Taylor’s murderers be brought to justice.


The Weeknd

The Weeknd donated a total of $500,00 USD to several organizations supporting the movement, including the Black Lives Matter Global Movement, The Colin Kaepernick Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative and the National Bail Out. Taking to Instagram to spread the word, the XO Records founder shared his donation receipts and encouraged “everyone with big pockets to give and give big.” He also urged major labels and streaming services to publicly announce the donations they’ve made and will make as an act of solidarity.


Tyler, the Creator

Although Tyler, the Creator‘s GOLF store on Fairfax sustained damages, he continued to join the protests in LA alongside Odd Future co-founder Jasper. The IGOR artist shared a Black Panther Party image from 1969 on Instagram, and followed it up with a comment that read, “and the store is fine, but even if it wasnt, this is bigger than getting some glass fixed and buffing spray paint off, understand what really needs to be fixed out here. stay safe, love.” He also uploaded a photo from his area of the protests on Twitter that reminded people to stay safe.


Kenny Beats

Producer Kenny Beats checked his white privilege and acknowledged it. He briefed his fans that if they weren’t utilizing that inherent privilege to push the protests further, then they’re playing for the wrong team. Later in the week, Kenny focused on the tone deaf statements coming from major record labels. “Wish these labels were as creative with ways to help Black artists as they are with the 200 page, 360 deal contracts they enslave their art and careers with.” He also took issue with the trend of posting the black square on social media and went into a detailed explanation as to why. See more below.


Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu chimed in on the systemic racism that not only plagues America but beats down Black musicians through racist practices in the major label system. She called for the amending of contracts, the redistribution of wealth through royalties and diversifying boardrooms. Speaking on the current protests as a whole, Eryka said, “George Floyd will inspire in someone the creation of a blueprint that will spark the building of a thing for our children that will out-last the pyramids.”


Kehlani

Kehlani aimed her focus directly at a major issue that has lead to the militarization of local police departments: increasing budgets. “Los Angeles, we need your help. Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed a budget that would increase funding for LAPD to receive 54% of the ENTIRE city budget,” she said in a recent Instagram post. The image reads in bold:
“Instead of giving LA Cops $3 Billion to abuse their power, Mayor Eric Garcetti could…” There’s then a list of positive things to do with that money from housing homeless and providing schools with more recourses. Swipe through her post for an enlightening look on how a city spends its money can further systemic racism. She directs her followers to PeoplesBudgetLA for more.


Travis Scott

Travis Scott shared Nike‘s “Don’t Do It” video ad on Twitter as well as a personal statement. The Cactus Jack founder demanded accountability and police reform, writing, “We have to change and reform police policy in our U.S. cities, and there needs to be accountability immediately! Especially when officers abuse power to the point where it callously takes a life.”


A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky took to Twitter to write a strongly-worded statement wherein the rapper revealed that he was out on the streets protesting with no press and no cameras. “I DONT POST MY EVERY MOVE, NOT MY THING,” he wrote, but also shared several videos and photos of his presence at a protest on the AWGE Instagram account.


Drake

Both Drake and The Weeknd were encouraged by Mustafa the Poet, who urged them to match his $400 USD donation and add three zeroes. This led to Drizzy donating $100,000 USD to the National Bail Out fund. He also expressed his condolences for George Floyd, sharing a powerful poem from Assata Shakur entitled Affirmation.


Big Sean

Big Sean uploaded a three-minute video on his IGTV, calmly talking about the deep-rooted racism in America. Comparing it to the human body, the rapper explained that the country has this huge gash across its chest and the organs are rotting on the inside. “We can put makeup on top of it or concealer and sh*t to make it look like it’s not so bad, but it is that bad and we’re experiencing it in real time,” he continued. He ends his video by reminding everyone that systematic change can only really happen if there’s a major overhaul in both the government and society.


SAINt JHN

Black Out Tuesday was meant to disconnect from work, but SAINt JHN had a very good reason to talk about music. He revealed that he and Future were scheduled to film a music video for “Roses (Remix)” in two days, but they’ve decided to instead donate the budget several bail funds and black-owned businesses affected.


Hit-Boy

Hit-Boy penned a lengthy, straightforward and thought-provoking statement that took a deep dive at the systematic problems African Americans in the music industry. The producer/rapper called for fair deals and updated contracts rather than just one day of a shutdown. “As someone who’s generated millions for multiple corporations through my gift I have to say it’s gonna take a lot more than 1 Tuesday to reverse what’s been going on for all these years,” he wrote. Hit-Boy continued, “Most of us have watched the stories of musicians we grew up admiring and had no idea they were being exploited for their talent and taken advantage of with bad contracts, etc. to see a “music industry blackout” in 2020 when there are still companies handing out contracts they know aren’t any good for the talent and who don’t care about their black talent as much as they say they do just doesn’t add up.”


J Balvin

The Colombian reggaeton star offered a more introspective statement. He notes that as a non-Black POC, he understands that he has a responsibility to “educate myself on the plight of Black citizens in America — to learn about their struggles and the ongoing, systematic racism they face each day; and more importantly, to learn how I can be a better ally and help change the system through my voice and actions.” J Balvin also announced that he will be making a donation to Colors of Change as a sign of his commitment.

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