Many artists have stood up in unity with the Black Lives Matter movement through their music as protest to the injustice that has been swarming over the black community within recent years. As an artist that is no stranger to speaking his mind and telling stories through music, J. Cole brought awareness to his personal experiences involving racism and stereotypes. His song “Neighbors” is a mellow, yet passionate piece that tells J. Cole’s story involving racial profiling and injustice that took place in his home.

As an artist, storyteller, and black man, J. Cole gives a voice to the black community in protest of racism that still overcomes society. In support of the Black Lives Matter Movement, he, along with many artists, expressed their frustrations through racism with music and created a lineage between many protest anthems fighting for peace and equality.

There is a strong lineage between “Neighbors”, including Vic Mensa’s “16 Shots”, 21 Savage’s “Nothin New”, and Meek Mill’s “Stay Woke.

Vic Mensa’s “16 Shots” takes an aggressive approach to police brutality and injustice. Like J. Cole, his song tells a story. Though the story is not his own, it is definitely emotionally driven. 16 shots references the shooting of Laquan McDonald, a 17 year old black male that was shot 16 times in 13 seconds in Chicago, Illinois. Within the last few years there have been many news stories on police brutality incidents one after another, and Laquan McDonald’s story was the final straw for Mensa, urging him to angrily speak out on the matter. The outro of the song is news commentary on the incident, explaining what happened in the situation from start to finish.

The following video is graphic. It is dashcam footage released by Chicago PD of Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times in 13 seconds.

With an anecdotal approach similar to J. Cole’s, 21 Savage tells his story and political understanding through his heartbreaking ballad “Nothin New”. The chorus rattles off about the repetitious occurrences of black people for stereotypical lifestyle choices including crime, dropping out of school, selling drugs, etc. 21 Savage lists these events and comments that “it ain’t nothin’ new”. Likewise, 21 Savage also mentions the Black Lives Matter movement and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Ultimately, the injustice within the black community is old news, but sadly, still relevant and still happening.

Lastly, the lineage between “Neighbors” moves a step forward with Meek Mill’s “Stay Woke” along with the other songs mentioned above. Meek Mill released and performed this song days after being released from jail about police violence and the injustices that have faced, and continue to face the black community. He also expresses criticism against the criminal justice system. In the middle of the performance, police run onto the stage and start arresting black people. In the midst of the actions, the song halts at the sound of a gunshot and cries fill the air of a mother sobbing over her dead son’s body. This song visually symbolizes the cruel reality that haunts black lives every day.

Police brutality and racial profiling are common themes among these songs, and many more. Together, these songs are chilling, dark, and emotional. Yet they speak volumes and raise awareness even further of the cruelty that harps over the lives of innocent people.