From Public Enemy to Pivot Gang, Tupac Shakur to Kendrick Lamar, hip-hop is, and has been, the epicenter for Black activism. In the midst of nationwide protests and racial divide, hip-hop artists around the country are speaking up and out with their music, continuing the fight for equality and justice. 

In the past few weeks, the hip-hop community has seen a heavy influx of singles from artists nationwide. They all have their unique approaches, whether it’s Noname’s soul-rattling rants or Denzel Curry’s barrage of conscience bars, but they’re united in their fight for justice and systemic change. We have compiled seven of the best new songs to listen to, reflect on, and learn from while taking a stand for change. Some evoke tears, others are full of frustration, but all leave a lasting impression. Listen to the singles that speak out below.

 

 


 

new hip hop Tee Grizzley

Tee Grizzley – Mr. Officer (Ft. Queen Naija & The Detroit Youth Choir)

“What if that was my brother? / what if that was my dad? / what if that was my uncle? / what if that was all I had?” Tee Grizzley teams up with Queen Naija and the Detroit Youth Choir to question the everyday experiences of Black Americans who have witnessed police brutality in its many forms. “Mr. Officer” is an emotionally biting song, and its powerful message will either move you to tears, inspire you to protest or both. Defined by harmonious youth voices and a vulnerable Grizzley, the Detroit native reflects on how it feels to be Black in the face of systematic racism. 

 

 


 

new hip hop Ric Wilson

Ric Wilson – Fight like Ida B & Marsha P

On this house-like single, Chicago rapper Ric Wilson makes his message straightforward and simple, “Defund the police, abolish the prisons, or don’t speak a word to me.” This pulsating, bass-heavy song will educate you as you dance around the room. Wilson uplifts the names and ideas of Black womxn freedom fighters such as Ida B. Wells, Marsha P. Johnson, Ella Baker and Harriet Tubman: people who fought for change and stopped at nothing to get it. “Fight Like Ida B & Marsha P” reminds you that activism doesn’t have to be slow and sad, it can be fun, funky, and make you want to move.

 

 


 

Buddy

Buddy – Black 2

Los Angeles rapper Buddy proudly praises Black culture and coldly condemns those who wish to gentrify it on his recent single “Black 2.” He exposes the contradiction deeply rooted in popular media, this idea that “Everybody wanna to be Black, don’t nobody wanna be a n****.” The underlying synth and drum beat produced by Panamanian drummer Roofeeo provides a steady bounce for Buddy to ride without interruption or distraction. “Black 2” is an essential listen for hip-hop fans as it reveals racism in its everyday form, one that extends into the Billboard charts today. 

 

 


 

new hip hop Terrance Martin

Terrace Martin – Pig Feet (Ft. Kamasi Washington, Denzel Curry, G Perico & Daylyt)

From start to finish, “Pig Feet” embodies the chaos of today’s world. Two Los Angeles Jazz masters — Terrace Martin and Kamasi Washington produced this single in order to recreate the sensory and emotional turmoil of unjustly losing someone to police brutality. The combination of gunshots, the cries of a grieving mother and a screeching saxophone will help you comprehend how disorienting the experience can be. Florida rapper Denzel Curry and L.A.-based Daylyt complement the fast-pace, stress-inducing beat with nearly breathless verses. In its own odd fashion, “Pig Feet” is a rollercoaster that spits you out after three minutes feeling energized, overwhelmed and ready to act. 

 

 


 

new hip hop Noname

Noname – Song 33 

Let’s make one thing clear: Noname isn’t afraid to speak, rap, or preach about the things she cares about. Produced by hip-hop legend Madlib, “Song 33” features an angry Noname rhythmically ranting over a hypnotic jazz beat, calling for the recognition and protection of Black womxn throughout the United States and world. Her frustration is partially directed at J.Cole, after the Dreamville rapper targeted Noname earlier this week in a controversial song of his own, “Snow on Tha Bluff.” However, the Chicago rapper expressed apologies and regrets on Twitter for any distraction the song may have caused. Despite the reception of the song, its message still rings true. If you find yourself burned out or distracted after weeks of activism, let Noname’s “Song 33” reinvigorate your spirit to continue the fight. 

 

 


 

new hip hop Lil Baby

Lil Baby – The Bigger Picture

2020 has been a big year for Lil Baby and his fans. He released his second album My Turn in late February, and has been on fire ever since. His most recent single “The Bigger Picture” is a four-minute barrage that puts the Black Lives Matter movement into perspective. “It’s bigger than Black and white / it’s a problem with the whole way of life.” His never-ending bars spiral through the booming bass and rolling piano, though, like many of us, the Atlanta trap star seems to be lost in a stream of confusion, frustration and activism. Hear Lil Baby continue his hot streak and vent to the world on “The Bigger Picture.”

 

 


 

new hip hop J. Cole

J.Cole – Snow On Tha Bluff

No drums, no hook, just the ebb and flow of J.Cole’s conscience. “Snow On Tha Bluff” centers around Cole struggling with the idea of being an idol and activist for his fans when he himself does not completely understand the issues of systematic racism and inequality. The first half of the song replies to Noname’s pointed tweets at popular rappers like Cole and Kendrick Lamar for their silence during protests and turmoil. However, the North Carolina native responded on Twitter the next day, saying “I appreciate [Noname] and others like her because they challenge my beliefs and I feel that in these times that’s important.” The song is not just for Noname, however, listen to the wavy, lo-fi reflection to understand a celebrity’s responsibility to their fans and community and your own influence on popular media.