Amid the third consecutive week of nationwide protests combating systemic racism, police brutality and demanding justice for George Floyd, Los Angeles native YG utilized his platform to organize a protest with Black Lives Matter on Sunday (June 8), which ended up bringing out thousands of people to Hollywood.
Though the Stay Dangerous rapper had to respond to criticism for shooting a music video during the demonstration, the march proved he can mobilize the masses off the strength of his musical influence. As hundreds packed into the intersection of Highland Avenue on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for YG’s “FTP” performance, it became extremely evident how much the power of music fuels the protesters pushing for change during social unrest.
HipHopDX caught up with attendees of the event to gauge which artists are current mainstays on their playlists as they continue to fight for social justice. The results are an inclusive list that incorporates Hip Hop, R&B, and even informational audio.
The voices of strong black women like Mary J. Blige and Kelly Rowland are resonating with young black men and we’re here for it.
Kenny (New Orleans, LA): I’m from Louisiana. I’ve been listening to a lot of old black music like Mary J. Blige. Like the song I’ve been playing so much in my car is “No More Drama.” Yo, that song is dope and it really means like, we really tired of this stuff. Like, no more pain, no more drama none of that. Even though she meant the song for a dude, but coming from my thoughts, you know, I’m getting tired of dealing with this. I’m from Louisiana, one of the most racist states in America, so this shit is crazy. I’ve been playing that song back to back.
But who I really think needs to do something, and it would really make the world realize like, it’s some stuff going on, is Beyoncé. Like that woman has so much power, she needs to say something — like I know she has been donating but donating doesn’t really mean anything if you aren’t out for the cause.
Shawn (Indianapolis, IN): I’ve been listening to a variety of artists also. I’ve recently been listening to Mary J. Blige “Take Me As I Am” and the reason I’ve been listening to that is that, even though she was referring to herself as far as like what she went through on her come-up, I just actually relate that song to us because all we’ve just been doing is trying to have people take us as we are. Especially because of the fact that a lot of the stuff people rely on us for as far as our culture, sports, and everything, but they don’t accept us as black people. So I have been listening to a lot of that.
I’ve also been listening to Kelly Rowland “Diamonds.” In regards of that song, she was talking about treating a dude like a diamond and I relate that to us because everything we brought to this country as far as our culture, they treat that like diamonds but don’t treat the creators as diamonds and I feel like that relates to what’s going on today.
West Coast meets East Coast when Cola Boyy intersects with X-Clan and Public Enemy.
Irvin (Oxnard, CA): I’ve been listening to a lot of local artists like Cola Boyy. He puts out a lot of political music but it is very friendly and fun and has a really radical message behind it. One of his popular songs is called “All Power to the People.”
Robert (Los Angeles, CA): — Music-wise, I’ve always been interested in the social justice stuff. So anything from like old school folk like Pete Seeger to shit like dead prez has always been a staple to listen to — X-Clan, Public Enemy, all the old school stuff is making a resurgence on my playlist.
Many are finding parallels between the activism of Malcolm X and the rhetoric of 2Pac.
Khadesha (Portland, OR): I’ve been listening to a lot of 2pac and Nipsey Hussle because they have always been for the culture and the things that we are going through now are some of the things that they always spoke on. So they just keep me motivated and keep me going and keep me inspired to fight for my people.
Najalah (Los Angeles, CA): I’ve been listening to a lot 2pac and Nipsey Hussle and also a lot of Malcolm X because his standpoints on a lot of things are in correlation with what I believe in, too. Also, my name is in relation to Malcolm X because he and my father were friends, yes my dad is that old. So my dad used to study under him and a lot of the ideologies and beliefs they believed in are kind of instilled in me. And I believe their approach to things is going to be more beneficial to what we are trying to fight for.
Although peace is another way to get your means met, I think at this point it’s time to make more of a stand and a point for what you need by any means necessary.
Just as Nipsey Hussle is a favorite with attendees from Southern California while Bay Area Protesters confide in Mozzy.
Dezcjon (West Los Angeles, CA): Shoot bruh, I been out in the streets painting the last few days so it’s been like energy music like To Pimp a Butterfly, that’s been in rotation — Victory Lap. I went back to the Jeezy that dropped when we had during the last recession, [The Recession] the one with “Crazy World” on it. Been heavy off the Slauson Boy 2, that’s been my main go-to’s and No Pressure.
Ello: (Stockton, CA): I’m out here to support the movement and the protests for all the injustice and police brutality. I’m basically representing my family — my little brother was killed in the penitentiary by correctional officers. So basically just representing, being peaceful, showing love, all that, feel me. I’ve been playing a lot of Mozzy because I don’t know, I am just happy for the young man. He’s from Sacramento, not too far from where I’m from, and he’s doing a lot of good things for himself and the community. Also been listening to a lot of E-40, a lot of Bay Area, a lot of L.A. music.
The visceral spiritual messages of classic black musicians like Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke are influencing yet another generation of listeners.
Clairene (Ontario, CA): I’ve been listening to Marvin Gaye, Prince and Beyoncé, a lot of black artists. Their black excellence has inspired me to be more and to show the world that I can do just as good as anyone else can. I’ve also been listening to my other black peers and listen to other people’s struggles on other social media like TikTok, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube all of that.
Salim (Prince George County, D.C.): What I’ve been listening to is really going back and try to re-trace my roots and listening to people like W.E.B. Du Bois — listening to Angela Davis, listening to Huey P. Newton of the Black Panther Party. I’ve really just been trying to wrap my head around this from an educational standpoint, a political standpoint and an economic standpoint and just kind of understand what are some of the decisive actions we can take as a people to remain progressive and move forward and make sure that we don’t lose this moment in time right now. As far as music I have been listening to, I’ve been going back to Earth Wind & Fire, you know, Sam Cooke “A Change Is Gonna Come” those are the songs that have really been resonating with me because I feel like they are appropriate right now. And we do need artists to keep stepping up right now because we do know that a lot of social change.
The real rap fans are out here, per usual, rocking with the new releases — of which Freddie Gibbs’ Alfredo and YG’s new single ‘FTP’ are the most popular.
Richie (Washington, D.C.): Recently I’ve been listening to the new Freddie Gibbs album Alfredo. That’s just been on repeat for me this past week, it just felt right. That hook on “Scottie Beam” — honestly it just couldn’t have dropped at a better time.
Alyssa (Los Angeles, CA): I have been listening to a lot of YG — so much fucking YG. I’ve been listening to “Fuck The Police” the new one and of course “FDT” obviously and then, you know, “Left, Right” because you have to. I love YG so this is just another reason to listen to him more.
We round the list out with none other than Kendrick Lamar, with Kehlani and informational podcasts in tow.
Becca (Chesapeake, Virginia): I think for protests we’ve been listening to a lot of Kehlani’s album It Was Good Until ItWasn’t, of course, Kendrick Lamar, and we just watched the New Edition documentary so getting back into the old stuff too. But I think, right now Kendrick’s “Alright” is the best hype song — and YG’s new song. When he was performing it we were going nuts.
Brittany (Baltimore, MD): Honestly, the past couple of days I’ve been listening to a lot of social justice podcasts. Recently I’ve been listening to the Criminal Junkie podcast highlighting LGBTQ lives because it is also pride month. So they’ve been doing special episodes on black mental health and black LGBTQ health and different crimes that have happened against the. One of the stories I was just listening to was about Mitrice Richardson, she was a young woman who was going through a psychotic break and instead of being taken to a hospital, she was taken to jail and ended up losing her life after being released from jail. So I’ve just been trying to immerse myself in more stories of us losing our lives to the police.