Six days after the Aug. 10 shooting death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old college-bound kid who was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, rapper J. Cole released his emotional tribute song "Be Free." For many hip-hop fans it was a rare moment of socially conscious protest in this Instagram selfie era that has seen Rick Ross use the tragic murder of Florida teen Trayvon Martin as a lyrical punchline and "Anaconda" queen Nicki Minaj face widespread rebuke for including an iconic "By Any Means Necessary" photo of outspoken '60s freedom fighter Malcolm X for the cover of her underground track "Lookin' Ass Nigga."
Since Cole's statement, a number of acts from T.I. ("New National Anthem") and Lauryn Hill ("Black Rage") have stepped up to the plate to speak on the issue of police brutality, economic disparity, and rage that has engulfed Ferguson following days of protests and rioting. But as the dead prez song goes, it's bigger than hip-hop. VIBE has compiled 11 protest songs beyond N.W.A.'s 1988 landmark track "Fuck tha Police" that span diverse musical genres. All, in some form or fashion, speak on the realities of police misconduct and the bigger picture of racial injustice. Speak out!--Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)