Listen: J. Cole’s Michael Brown Tribute ‘Be Free’ Might Be His Most Emotional Song Ever

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John Kennedy / August 15, 2014

Enough is enough.

Like many of us, J. Cole is completely fed up with the injustice and tragic murders of Black men and women, boys and girls, in America. Michael Brown was the last straw.

So in the wee hours of the morning, while you snoozed, he worked. And what resulted is probably the most emotional song you’ve heard from Cole yet. His voice raspy, soaked with tears and maybe Hennessy, the 29-year-old Carolinian MC sings and shouts of his desire for true freedom for his people.

“All we wanna do is take the chains off/All we wanna do is be free,” he sings, while audio of Dorin Johnson, a friend of Brown’s who witnessed the murder, divides the verses. It’s raw. It’s touching. It’s real.

And along with the chilling image of Brown’s slain body laying in the street, Cole wrote a note:

There was a time in my life when I gave a fuck. Every chance I got I was screaming about it. I was younger. It’s so easy to try to save the world when you’re in college. You got nothing but time and no responsibility. But soon life hits you. No more dorms, no more meal plan, no more refund check. Nigga need a job. Nigga got rent. Got car note. Cable bill. Girlfriend moves in and becomes wife. Baby on the way. Career advances. Instagram is poppin. Lebron leaves Miami. LIFE HITS. We become distracted. We become numb. I became numb. But not anymore. That coulda been me, easily. It could have been my best friend. I’m tired of being desensitized to the murder of black men. I don’t give a fuck if it’s by police or peers. This shit is not normal.

I made a song. This is how we feel. —Cole

J. Cole should give himself a bit more credit; this isn’t the first artistic stand he’s taking against police killing innocent Blacks. His tear-jerking video for “Crooked Smile” paid tribute to Aiyana Stanley-Jones, a 7-year-old Detroit girl shot and killed by an officer during a 2010 home raid.

If your favorite rapper isn’t doing this, maybe you need to ask yourself why he/she is your favorite rapper. Peace. —John Kennedy