As we begin this semester looking at protest songs more deeply, I am excited analyze two of my own. The songs I have chosen have been some that have previously inspired me in the past. The songs are We Are the Word for Haiti Diamond by Artists for Haiti and Diamond from Sierra Leone by Kanye West and Jay-Z. The artists in these songs have continuously impacted my life in many ways through music and social justice.

I first heard We Are the World when I was in the eighth grade. My music teacher had shown us the original song that was created by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie in 1985. The music is extremely inspiring. There is definitely more emphasis on the lyrics than the background music. The only music that plays in the background is a light piano and a synthesizer. Voices are mainly the only instruments used. This song is a huge call to action and the artists are directing the focus to the lyrics rather than the music. Listening to this song makes me want to jump in and help.

The call to action is asking everyone to come together and fight for a change. This version was created to raise money for the earthquake victims in Haiti. Let’s take a closer look at the lyrics below:

We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day, just you and me

The song is suggesting that it is our choice to help and make the world a better place. It is a beautiful and extremely influential song that everyone should listen to.

The first time I heard Diamonds from Sierra Leone was in a Theology class in high school. This song comes off as catchy but aggressive. The music has a really catchy rhythm and it doesn’t seem like it would have such a deep meaning. He uses an organ to get the main and memorable melody.

The song really brings awareness to the social justice issue in Sierra Leone. You’d think this is just a typical catchy song by Kanye and Jay-Z but looking at the lyrics, it has such a deeper meaning. For example, take a look at this verse:

Over here, it’s a drug trade, we die from drugs
Over there, they die from what we buy from drugs
The diamonds, the chains, the bracelets, the charmses
I thought my Jesus Piece was so harmless
‘Til I seen a picture of a shorty armless
And here’s the conflict
It’s in a black person’s soul to rock that gold
Spend ya whole life tryna get that ice

It tells the listener what happens to the people of Sierra Leone because of the diamonds mines. This is truly an influential song just like We Are the World.


I’d love to explore these songs more because the artists and songs have had such an impact on my life. I would love to take a deeper look at why the artist created the songs and what they hoped to accomplish by making these songs.