i – Kendrick Lamar

What draws me to this song is the nature of its protest. It’s not a typical song about discrimination and standing up against it, it’s instead a protest song of the lack of self-love and respect in the residents of Compton. There’s also something to be said about its use of the Isley Brothers’ “That Lady” as a sample. Kendrick Lamar visited Ronald Isley to ask for permission for the sample and the two ended up talking about the way things were when Ronald was growing up in comparison to today, finding a lot of shocking similarities, with bits of the conversation being recorded on camera and the audio being used during parts of the song. This self-empowerment song also brings up the origins of so much of this lack of self-respect including ways in which substance abuse is often weaponized against the Black community as an easy explanation for their struggles. There is also a performance of the song on SNL in which he adds an intro to the song and wears contact lenses that completely black out his eyes, which is worthy of diving into for deeper meaning.

King James – Anderson .Paak

This song’s protest message isn’t about just being Black in America, but goes deeper into the ways in which .Paak’s community is able to support one another and overcome adversity despite facing many different obstacles which he mentions throughout the song including immigration, police brutality,  and gentrification. This song also makes direct reference to Lebron James in its title in discussing the ways in which he’s used his platform to uplift as many communities as possible, contrasting it against Colin Kaeperneick’s silencing from the NFL. Because this is slightly less obvious in its messaging and includes a manageable variety of topics working together in discussion of one larger issue, it would work better than my previous choices.