The police killing of George Floyd — as well as the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and more — have not only sparked demonstrations around the country but also changed people’s listening habits. According to Billboard, many protest songs have experienced major increases in streams amid the unrest in the United States.
From May 26 to June 2, multiple Hip Hop protest anthems spiked in listenership on streaming services. Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” had a 787 percent increase, skyrocketing from 131,000 to 1,162,000 streams in a week. Meanwhile, Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power” attained an 858 percent increase with its jump from 19,000 to 178,000 streams.
N.W.A’s previously reported boom saw “Fuck Tha Police” go from 77,000 to 579,000 streams (a 655 percent increase) during this time period.
The most dramatic spike for any rap song, at least in terms of percentages, was Killer Mike’s “Don’t Die.” The Run The Jewels MC’s track jumped from 2,000 to 547,000 streams in a 36,254 percent increase. The highest amount of streams in total went to Childish Gambino’s “This Is America,” which went from 273,000 to 1,826,000 amid a 569.5 percent increase.
Other notable Hip Hop tracks gaining significant traction from May 26 to June 2 include Vic Mensa’s “16 Shots” (15,022 percent increase), YG’s Nipsey Hussle-assisted “FDT” (1,106 percent increase), The Game’s posse cut “Don’t Shoot (292 percent increase) and 2Pac’s “Keep Ya Head Up” (292 percent increase).
Beyond rap, streams soared for protest anthems by Beyoncé, James Brown, The Five Stairsteps, Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, Sam Cooke and Solange. Each of them — as well as the aforementioned Hip Hop artists — were featured on Spotify’s Black Lives Matter playlist.
Hip Hop has not been silent during this crucial time in history. JAY-Z called MN Governor Walz to help get George Floyd’s case into the hands of Attorney General Keith Ellison, Russ raised over $150k for Black Lives Matter, The Weeknd donated $500k to various BLM causes, Drake donated $100k to a bail relief fund, and Killer Mike provided a powerful speech addressing Atlanta amid city wide protests.
Kanye West donated $2 million to the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. J. Cole and Kendrick were both spotted at local protests and Meek Mill dropped a song addressing police brutality.
These efforts are only a few highlights among the many people who are doing what they can to help spread messaging and advance the Black Lives Matter movement.
Check out the collection of music below.