When I was thinking of what songs I would choose for this assignment, I didn’t know what songs were written in response to social movements. I wanted to focus on issues that mattered to me because I watched the movement happen. The two songs I am choosing are – Joyner Lucas’ “I’m Not Racist,” and Miguel’s “Now.”

“I’m Not Racist,” is a song that shocked the nation when it was realized because it was raw. The song and video don’t hold anything back. The first time I watched the video, I was shocked at the harshness of the words and the image portrayed in the video. A white man wearing a “Make America Great Again,” was using the n-word and spewing hate as the black man across the table sat and listened. Halfway through the songs, the roles flipped and that’s when it all started to make sense.

The song was not about a white man spewing hate. It was an attempt to show the brutal race conversation that has never been had. It shows both sides of a racial battle that is still being fought every day. The song discusses different issues regarding racial divides such as the Black Lives Matter movement, stereotypes about the black community, and the national anthem Each word in the song was hand-picked, delivering the harsh message across every line.

(White Man)

N-word kneelin’ on the field, that’s a flag down

How dare you try to make demands for your money?

You gon’ show us some respect, you gon’ stand for this country, n-word!

I’m not racist, I’m just prepared for this type of war 

It is difficult to analyze the lyrics of the song because each word is loaded with so much history and hatred. The power of the words is what drew me to pick this song. There is so much despair shown throughout the song, but in the end, there’s understanding. The music and melody are ominous, but not overwhelming because the focus is on the words. When the artist is trying to emphasize a word, the rhythm changes and there is a loud crash. The emphasis on the words rather than the melody resembles a spoken word poem, allowing the story to be at the forefront of the delivery.

The second song I chose is Miguel’s “Now.” It tells the story of the current immigration problem in the United States and Donald Trump’s relationship with Mexicans. I stumbled upon this song when I was looking at songs that were written in response to social justice movements. The music video focuses on telling the stories of immigrants and the hardships they faced. As a viewer, you are able to follow the storylines as the words reflect what is developing.

The background music is a soft melody that draws its attention to the words Miguel is singing. The video captures the beauty of the battle of immigration. It brings people together and offers them a space to share their concerns. A wide variety of minoritized groups, rather than just focusing on Mexican immigrants, are represented. Most of the song is made up of a repetitive chorus and asks people to look at the nation we are living in today. 

Is that the look of freedom, now?

Is that the sound of freedom, now?

‘Cause it’s plain to see a man’s integrity

By the way he treats those when he don’t need them

And it’s time we talk about it

Let’s not waste our common ground

The lyrics ask us to use our voice to talk about the issue of immigration that is going on around us. The purpose and story behind the song are what drew me to it ultimately. Miguel’s has spoken out about immigrant rights and issues of immigration many times because the problem hits close to home for him. Immigration is an issue that hits close to home for me too. The video shares the raw stories and draws everyone’s attention.

I am excited to dive into the messages of each of the songs. This project will allow me to engage with the deeper issues encoded in the words.