Welcome my podcast, “Chains” a podcast about social reform and racial injustice.

In this podcast we will be discussing the 2013 hit song, “chains” By Usher, and how it relates to the ongoing horrors of racial injustice and killings of black Americans.







Welcome back to protest anthems, the podcast about all things music, social justice, and protest. In this episode, Shane Freda discusses hip-hop and rap artist Usher and his 2013 release “Chains”. Usher’s song serves as a powerful call to action regarding the recent events concerning the unjust killings of black Americans through police brutality and civilian actions. Usher serves to spread this message through his song, and despite the cruel past for Black Americans, he wants to help create a better future for all  


“Chains” By Usher ft. Nas and Bibi Bourelly


The 2013 hit song “Chains” by hit known singer Usher, ft. Nas and Bibiburelly is used as a call to action anthem in response to the detrimental problem facing the United States, Police brutality and racial injustice within the system of power. The notorious death of George Floyd in 2020 caused a national outbreak for change and reform, but in 2013 through 2015, the number of police related deaths and instances of injustice were at an all time high. Usher, The 8 time grammy winning singer, and self proclaimed humanitarian activist, talks in an interview with CBS morning news team on his inspiration for this song.


CBS Morning news interview with Usher


As we can hear from the interview, the inspiration for the song is surrounding a hot topic in our society right now. Usher using his impact and global stage creates a call to action which makes listeners around the world realize that we need to “face the problem to fix the problem”.

These recordings were taken by the NowThisNews network and uploaded to youtube, this video captures thousands of protestors lying face down on the floor, with their hands behind their backs, recalling George Floyd’s death and his infamous dying words. “I can’t Breathe”


Public outrage sparks due to these unjust killings across our nation. There seems to be a haunting connection between these wrong doings. As the issue becomes more public, we look to people with a platform to speak up on the issue and create this call to action for their listeners. We can find powerful connections between artists and their lyrics in their songs.

The most significant lyric we hear is the word “Chains’ ‘, hence the song title. Usher wants to make it known that these chains are not just physical but metaphorical too. He states, “You act like the change, tryna throw me in chains, don’t act like you are saving us, it’s still the same ” This line is a direct attack on the unfair justice system that people of color face everyday from killings, violence and mass incarceration. He then states “you gave the name to us” following the use of the profound N word, referencing the earlier times of slaves and masters. The repetition of the line, “We still in chains” sinks in to make it clear that even in modern day, the black community is shackled by chains of injustice


“Be Free” By J. Cole

Circling back to the topic of connection and lineage through artists and their songs, this 2014 single was released by Jcole in response to the tragic killing of Micheal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The song is meant to convey the pain and frustration that so many people felt around the nation towards racial injustice. Urging listeners to break free from the chains of oppression and to stand up and fight for their rights, “Be Free” serves as an anthem to inspire and work towards a better future.

In Feb. of 2023 a youtube documentary titled, “Use of Force, The Police Brutality Against Black Communities In America” Uploaded by Documentary Central, Sean Lejacono, a retired DC police officer gives his thoughts on the murder of George Floyd


All in all, there are people who do not value human life or respect others. People in law enforcement may fall into his category. But we need to keep pushing and challenging to ensure a community of fairness, equality and compassion. As long as people in power and those with a voice, like Usher, who can reach the minds of millions of people, these issues will not go noticed and they will never be covered up or forgot.