Chuck D once called hip-hop the Black CNN, and while the TV version was broadcasting burning police cars and tear gas-filled streets in the wake of the Ferguson grand jury decision, rappers and singers were making their voices heard to add context to the images of unrest.
One of the most powerful reactions came from Killer Mike, whose acclaimed rap duo Run the Jewels with white partner El-P was playing nearby in St Louis. As shown in the emotional video above, Mike offered his thoughts and prayers to both peaceful protesters and "the people who cannot hold their anger in, because riots are only the language of the unheard."
"Shit comes along and kicks you on your ass, and you don’t feel like a champion. Tonight I got kicked on my ass, when I listened to that prosecutor," he continued. "You motherfuckers got me today. I knew it was coming. I have a 20-year-old son. I have a 12-year-old son. And I'm so afraid for them."
"You motherfuckers will not own tomorrow," he concluded. "We will not live in fear. It is us, against the motherfucking machine."
Other rappers marched in protest. A Tribe Called Quest's legendary leader Q-Tip led a chant of "Whose streets? Our streets!" during a demonstration in New York City.
No value for black life. But they extrapolate our magic , sweat, our voice our fire... And leave us stripped of our right to exist— QTip (@QtipTheAbstract) November 25, 2014
Macklemore also took to the streets, marching in a protest in his hometown of Seattle.
The system that instills & protects white supremacy wins again. Humanity loses...No justice. I pray for Mike Brown & his family. So sad.— Macklemore (@macklemore) November 25, 2014
Legendary musician/producer Nile Rodgers, of Chic and more recently "Get Lucky" fame posted a striking image on his Facebook page, alongside a moving story about his own personal experiences with the police as a black youth. "Ferguson doesn't shock me because I was raised in NYC and LA, California. This happened to me in those bustling sophisticated metropolises."
Solange Knowles posted a similarly powerful piece of art on her Facebook page, alongside a statement that read, in part, "Today I feel a sense of brokenness on behalf of my people.
Others expressed their outrage on Twitter like the rest of us, ranging from Nas, Will.I.Am and Pharrell to Katy Perry, Ashanti and Carrie Brownstein.
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