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Lauryn Hill And J. Cole Sing About Ferguson, MO

Ferguson rebound

Ferguson Unbound


“An old sketch of ‘Black Rage,’ done in my living room. Strange, the course of things. Peace for MO. MHL”

MHL is Lauryn Hill of course and the song, “My Favorite Things” with different lyric, would be a lot better if the punchline made any sense whatsoever. I am not sure how or why thinking about stuff that enrages her about the black experience would make her not feel so bad. Is Lauryn “Black human packages wrapped up in string, black rages come from all these kind of things” she claims.

Ferguson, MO has enraged a lot of black folk, a lot of white folk as well, and this song I guess makes some sort of sense of the rage, it is, simply because it is an old sketch, something of a same as it ever was. Sung to a metronome, it makes clippy cloppy and is more than a little clever.

If “Black Rage” is an accidental commentary, J. Cole’s “Born Free” is an “Ohio” for a different generation and another outrage. “That there is no justice kills my soul” Cole sings (not raps) on the Michael Brown tribute, where Cole sobs somewhere between a rap and a song. It is a powerful piano ballad, and it went viral, directly hitting the mark and answering the concerns of many black people.

Both songs are musically negligible but neither song is, strictly speaking, about the music. It has been awhile since we have seen a protest song respond so rapidly to an ongoing disaster. Put it this way, Hurricane Katrina didn’t get its songs till much later.

Born Free – J. Cole – B

Black Rage – Lauryn Hill – B


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