All Things Music, Social Justice, and Protest

Category First Listen Fall 2023

For this listen, I’d like you to consider the context in which your song was released, the critiques your song is making, both overt and subtle, and what, if any, solutions to the problems your song offers.

When thinking about context, I’d like you to consider two things:

First, think about what was happening in the world at the time, or leading up to, the song’s release. Be specific and add links to examples of the kinds of events that were happening.

Second, I’d like you to think about genre as a kind of context. As we have discussed in class, genre often shapes or influences how one approaches a song. (See Rosenthal and Flacks on “The Power of Genre and Musical Code, starting on p. 52.)

In terms of social critique, consider how the songwriter(s) offer critique through their lyrics. Note that I am distinguishing between the artist and the songwriter(s) and I want you to look up who actually wrote the song you have chosen, and when referencing lyrics, use the songwriter(s) instead of the artist (the artist is responsible for the delivery). Those critiques can be overt through direct discussion of the issue(s), and they can be subtle or implied through subtextual discussions. Try to illuminate both and link to news stories or other documents that highlight the importance of the issues being discussed.

Quote the lyrics throughout.

Choose the First Listen Fall 2023 category so your post appears on this page.

Due Friday, 9/22 by 11:00pm

First Listen: “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath

This song was released in 1970, towards the very end of the anti-war movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s. At the time the song was written, the Vietnam War was still raging on, and wouldn’t come to an… Continue Reading →

First Listening Post: Bruce Springsteen’s, “The Rising”

Bruce Springsteen wrote the song “The Rising” shortly after the devastating attacks on September 11th, 2001, in New York City. In the lyrics, he begins by taking the perspective of one of the firefighters that rushed into the attacked World… Continue Reading →

First Listen – “Chains” by; Usher, Nas & Bibi Bourelly

During the time of the songs release (2015), Usher and the other artists featured wanted to convey a clear message that the track was produced to raise awareness for the victims of racial injustice and police brutality. The unjust killings… Continue Reading →

First Listen 2023: “Memory Boy” by Tigercub

“Memory Boy” was released in 2016 as a debut album by Tigercub, a UK based band. Around its release, the UK was still in the EU and dealing with the refugee crisis. Many felt that the UK should be better… Continue Reading →

First Listen- “Keep Ya Head Up” by Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur’s Keep Ya Head Up was released in 1993 as part of his Strictly for my N***** album. The song was dedicated to Latasha Harlins, a 15 year old Black girl who was killed by a Korean store clerk… Continue Reading →

First Listen – “i” by Kendrick Lamar

Note: for the purposes of the first listening post, I’ll be discussing the album version of “i” and not the shorter single version including a different vocal performance unless I specifically reference the single. Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly… Continue Reading →

First Listen ~ Kendrick Lamar’s “The Blacker the Berry”: Unveiling Racial Critique and Solutions in Hip-Hop

The song ” The Blacker the Berry” by Kendrick Lamar was released in 2015 and featured on his album “To Pimp a Butterfly.”This song was released during a time when immense racial inequality and police brutality were at the spearhead… Continue Reading →

First Listen – Hozier, “Butchered Tongue” (Emma Kelly)

Hozier’s “Butchered Tongue,” lends itself more to a historical context as it explores the devastating long term effects of colonization, but is certainly informed by modern events and contemporary understandings of language and culture. As the song goes, “And as… Continue Reading →

“At the Purchaser’s Option” by Rhannon Giddens

Listen #1  For my song, “At the Purchaser’s Option” by Rhiannon Giddens addresses a number of political issues that reflect on the political climate of 2017. The two major issues are women’s control of their own bodies and the dignity… Continue Reading →

First Listen – “Breakfast” by Dove Cameron

The song “Breakfast” by Dove Cameron was released in June of 2022, the same month Roe V. Wade was overturned. The overturning of Roe V. Wade was obviously a very detrimental event for women’s rights, including women’s right to abortions,… Continue Reading →

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