30 years on from 'F*** Tha Police', George Floyd's killing sparks new wave of protest songs

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In 1988, hip-hop group NWA released F*** Tha Police, condemning law enforcement violence and discrimination against black people in the US.

More than 30 years later, that anger is still here and music stars are releasing new protest tracks in the wake of another death.

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Image: Mr Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck

George Floyd, 46, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 25 May, when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes - despite him being in handcuffs and pleading that he could not breathe. Derek Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, and three other officers have been charged as accomplices.

As Black Lives Matter demonstrations continue around the world, here's how some musicians from the US and UK have staged their own protests.

LL Cool J

Image: LL Cool J posted an a cappella rap on social media

LL Cool J

In an emotional a cappella video, LL Cool J addresses Mr Floyd's death and raises the question of what might have happened to the police officers involved had the arrest not been filmed by bystanders.

"If it wasn't for them phones, Chauvin would be at home/ Feeling justified because of George skin tone/ I'm telling those with melanin, you're not alone."

Referencing Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Marcus Garvey, he continues: "The new Malcolm, Martin and Marcuses are now grown/ America's a graveyard full of black man's bones."

The rapper also pays tribute to other black people killed in the US, including Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Breonna Taylor, saying "all of them paid the price".

Rapper YG at a Black Lives Matter protest

Image: Rapper YG spoke at a Black Lives Matter protest in LA

YG

Compton rapper YG released FDT (F*** Donald Trump) in 2016. Now, he has released FTP (F*** The Police) following Mr Floyd's killing, referring to police officers in the US as "the Ku Klux cops".

He decries "open cases, police already hate me" and raps: "I'm tired of being tired of being tired/ I'm tired of being shot at like a opp...

"I hate when they handcuff me/ Acting tough with a vest and a gun, he think he keen/ I hate when they handcuff me/ Acting tough, calling for back-up, I think he weak."

Trey Songz appears onstage at Trey Songz & 50 Cent Host The Big Game Weekend 2020 at Cameo on February 01, 2020 in Miami, Florida

Image: Trey Songz has released 2020 Riots: How Many Times

Trey Songz

Singer-songwriter Trey Songz has released 2020 Riots: How Many Times, lamenting the cycle of black deaths in the US.

"It's so hard to sing these words out loud/ All these beautiful, precious black lives/ Lost in the name of senseless white pride," he sings.

He also urges people to speak up about racism.

"Tell me how can you be quiet?/ You know the language of the unheard, is a riot/ All we ever see from you is violence/ You know you ain't no better if you silent."

Dua Saleh performs onstage at Leaders Of The New Cool during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Antone's on March 14, 2019 in Austin, Texas.

Image: Dua Saleh's track Body Cast features audio of Angela Whitehead, a woman who went viral for standing up to police officers in 2019

Dua Saleh

The rapper, singer and poet, who is based in Minneapolis, recorded Body Cast last year but has shared it in response to the Black Lives Matter protests.

The track samples audio clips of Angela Whitehead, a woman from Montana who went viral when she stood up to white police officers illegally entering her home in 2019.

"You must be crazy, coming up in here talking about you heard something/ You heard me talking/ I talk loud and I'm aggressive/ And guess what? You did not knock on my door."

Proceeds from the song's download are being donated to the Minneapolis-based justice organization, Black Visions Collective.

OffWorld

London/ Philadelphia-based musical outfit OffWorld wrote I Found Out after the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, St Louis, Missouri, in 2014, but never intended to release it as a "single".

However, the group - which features Hard-Fi's Richard Archer and house singer and stage performer Krysten Cummings - has now made it available.

The track features dialogue from emergency service radio heard after Mr Brown's death.

"These lyrics were written five years ago but sadly mirror what is happening today and has been happening since - 'Struggling To Breathe In St Louis'," says Cummings.

Keedron Bryant

Twelve-year-old gospel singer Keedron Bryant went viral with his a cappella song I Just Wanna Live, put out on social media the day after Mr Floyd's death.

"I'm a young black man, doing all that I can/ To stand/ Oh, but when I look around, and I see what's being done to my kind/ Every day I'm being hunted as prey/ My people don't want no trouble," he sings.

"Just singing what's on my heart...hope this blesses someone," he wrote in the caption alongside his video on Instagram, which has been viewed more than three million times.

Little Simz performs at Gobi Tent during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 13, 2019 in Indio, California.

Image: Little Simz has reposted her 2019 track, Pressure

Little Simz

British rapper Little Simz's track Pressure is from 2019's Mercury Prize-nominated album Grey Area.

However, she recently reposted a performance of the track on Instagram and Twitter.

"Take a walk in my shoes, or any other young black person in this age/ All we ever know is pain/ All we ever know is rage," she raps, speaking to "those who have never been poverty-stricken, always had a silver spoon to feed off".

Screengrab from Black Lives Matter, by rapper Teejayx6

Image: The video for Black Lives Matter includes footage of police violence

Teejayx6

The rapper released his protest song, simply titled Black Lives Matter, at the beginning of June, and pays tribute to Mr Floyd.

"Why you have to put your knee on his neck / RIP to George Floyd," Teejayx6 raps.

The video for the song features graphic footage of Mr Floyd's final moments and other incidents of police violence.

The lyrics also lament the feeling that there is little people can do to stop racist violence: "Another black man just died on camera, but we can't even use our hammers/ All we can say is, Black Lives Matter."

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