When listening to a piece of music, reading and comprehending the lyrics are necessary to gain more understanding of the song. However, that is not the only element that should be taken into account when listening to a piece of music. Other elements include the delivery of the music, interaction with the audience, other versions of the song, and even how others interpret the song or how they interact with it.

As previously stated, an important element to consider when understanding a song is how the audience interacts with the music. This could be during live performances, on social media, or in other areas where listeners can interact with the song. A common thing that fans enjoy creating is a cover of a song. People usually choose to cover songs that they relate to on a personal level and ones they really understand. Similar to a cover, some fans can interact with a song by creating an alternative music video. This way of interacting with the song demonstrates the fan’s interpretation of the song and expresses their understanding and feelings about the song.

“For My People” does not have an official music video produced by Bada$$’s team, but one fan created an alternative music video for Bada$$ and posted it on YouTube. 

See video below:

In the music video, some themes that are demonstrated include racial inequality, hope, freedom, community, and peace. All of these themes shown in the music video are similar to the ones Joey Bada$$ expresses in his song. Specifically at 0:36 of the video, the videographer focuses on a young man of the Black community who is staring directly at the camera with a visible tattoo that reads “HOPE”. This image is very powerful because it creates this sense of a call-to-action by including the viewer in the discussion of racial injustices and having hope for the future. 

Another notable scene of the music video that displays a strong message is at 3:30 of the music video where there is another young man of the Black community facing two American flags that are not in focus. This is a very powerful still because it demonstrates that there are issues in America that we have to face and fix, but we hope for freedom, peace, and equality, especially for the BIPOC community.

At the end of the music video is a quote from Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher whose primary focus is that people in charge should think less of power and money and more on doing good for the rest of the people. The quote reads, “Music in the soul can be heard by the Universe”. I think this quote is a very strategic way of summing up Joey Bada$$’s purpose of creating music, especially when in the lyrics he sings, “Music is a form of expression. I’ma use mine just to teach you a lesson.”

Besides the fan-created alternative music video, Bada$$ also performed “For My People” live numerous times. One video from a concert was filmed at Elysée Montmartre in Paris, France.

See video below:

In this performance, it is interesting to see him perform this song on what I thought would be strictly about inequalities in American society, in France. When he tells the audience to “put their hands up” and to help him out with performing the song, he still engages with the audience and it was clear that that audience was listening to what he had to say and expressing themselves during it as well. 

As mentioned, I thought the song focused on inequalities in America, but after watching another live performance, I discovered that the song itself might be meant for the world to hear and focuses on many issues the whole world is facing. This performance was at the Rolling Loud music festival in New York City (NYC). While the performance in Europe displayed a large American flag print as a background, the performance in NYC displayed a video of a glowing globe, as seen at 0:45 in the video.  The background imagery is very interesting in these two performances, since there are no other symbols to focus on. In both performances, however, Bada$$ encourages the audience to sing with him to create a sense of community and interactiveness with his fans.

See video below: