Where is this generation of protest music

Music - From Marvin Gaye to Beyoncé: the 6 best black protest songs

Jump to content
  1. Culture
  2. music
  3. Current article
content

When Barack Obama was elected the first black President of the United States, the majority were certain: we have finally arrived in post-racist America. Eight years later, the disillusionment is great. Black protest music is now experiencing a renaissance. Here are our current top 6.

  • 1. Marvin Gaye: "What's Going On"

    Until the late 1960s, Marvin Gaye was considered a sex symbol and a guarantee of success with rather sappy ballads. But that ended in 1971. Gaye produced - initially against the will of Motown boss Gordy - the song "What’s going on" as part of the album of the same name. A radical change of roles, because Gaye is expressing himself politically for the first time.

    The entire album is an inventory of the social circumstances in the 1960s: the Vietnam War, the impoverishment of black metropolitan areas, resistance and environmental problems. It became his most successful album, also because the messages are musically wrapped in soft, soulful cotton wool.

  • 2. Sam Cooke: "A Change Is Gonna Come"

    “It's been a long time coming, but a change is gonna come” is probably one of the most hopeful and most-covered sentences in black protest music. The main cover was sung by the great Betty Lavette and Bon Jovi at Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony on January 20th, 2009. With a small, significant change at the end: “A change has come”. The hope after Obama's election was huge: finally there. Finally equality. How wrong!

  • 3. Gil-Scott Heron: "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"

    Gil Scott-Heron laid the foundation for rap and hip-hop with his spoken word pieces. His texts were extremely socially critical. Not least because of this, he is also called the black Bob Dylan. “The revolution will not be televised” is one of his best-known pieces in which he points out that in order to change something, you first have to change your thoughts. Such a change could never be seen on television.

    Gil Scott-Heron spoke out against armed resistance several times and admonished the new generation of rappers not to be blinded by money. Gil Scott-Heron made a great comeback in 2010.

  • 4. Ben Harper: "Lika a King"

    In 2001 the song appeared on the album "Live from Mars". Harper takes up events that had happened 10 years earlier in Los Angeles: On March 3, 1991, the convicted African American Rodney King is chasing the police. Reason: a speeding violation. When he was arrested, King resisted, whereupon three police officers maltreat him with more than 50 strokes of the cane.

    When the police were acquitted in 1992, riots broke out in Los Angeles. Harper's song is a challenge in which the last name "King" also helps him to draw a historical arc: "... cause Martin’s dream has become Rodney’s worst nightmare".

  • 5. Kendrick Lamar: "King Kunta"

    Kendrick Lamar is the voice of a generation of young African Americans. His texts are a force: philosophical, socially critical, radical. Someone here wants to be heard. His album “To Pimp a butterfly”, released in 2015, is already considered one of the best albums ever and has sold almost a million times in the USA alone.

    From a purely musical point of view, “King Kunta” is probably the catchiest song on the album. Lyrically it is a reference to the slave Kunta Kinte, the hero of the novel from Alex Haley's book “Roots: The Saga of an American Family”. In the book, his right foot is chopped off after an attempt to escape. "Everybody wanna cut the legs off him ...", sings Kendrick Lamar.

    As with all Lamar songs, you have to put the lyrics next to them and hear them several times. That is kind of an obligation. If you want to understand what is preoccupying young blacks and what the centuries-old struggle against oppression means to them, you have to hear Kendrick Lamar!

  • 6. Beyonce: «Formation»

    When soul and R'n'B queen Beyoncé quotes the Black Panther, the underground movement that called for armed resistance in the 1970s, during her appearance at the Superbowl final, then the signs are clear: 1. Something is rumbling here tremendous in the land of unlimited possibilities. 2. “The revolution will be televised”. And it sells well.

    This is not the first time Beyoncé has made political statements. She has also already covered “A change is gonna come”. She and her husband Jay-Z are considered generous supporters of Obama. But it is also a fact that she has to promote a world tour. And that she has expanded her range of merchandise: Lately you can also buy T-shirts with her dressed up as black Jeanne d'Arc on Beyoncé's website.

    Still, here's one of those moments that is worth listening to pop music for. A political message that is cheered by an audience of millions, both live and on video. Only Queen Bey can do that. You can't get enough of the video for her song "Formation" for a long time: it is teeming with references to political events.

  1. Culture
  2. music
  3. Current article

Most read articles

Scroll left Scroll right

Social login

For the registration we need additional information about yourself.

{* #socialRegistrationForm *} {* firstName *} {* lastName *} {* emailAddress *} {* displayName *} {* mobile *} {* addressCity *} {* / socialRegistrationForm *}

Welcome back

Please log in to enter a comment.

{* loginWidget *} Use a different account

Login and register


Log In

{* #signInForm *} {* signInEmailAddress *} {* currentPassword *} Forgot your password? {* / signInForm *}

Simply log in with your social media account or your Apple ID

{* loginWidget *}

Create a new password

Enter the email address of your user account. We will then send you a link that you can use to create a new password.

{* #forgotPasswordForm *} {* signInEmailAddress *} {* / forgotPasswordForm *}

Create a new password

You will shortly receive an email with a link to renew your password.

Didn't get a message?

If you have not received an e-mail after 10 minutes, please check your SPAM folder and the details of your e-mail address.

Welcome back

Please log in to enter a comment.

{* #signInForm *} {* signInEmailAddress *} {* currentPassword *} Forgot your password? {* / signInForm *} Use a different account

Technical error

Oh oops! A technical issue occured. Please try again later or contact our customer service.

Confirm mobile number

So that you can enter a comment, we ask you to confirm your mobile number. We will send you an SMS code to the mobile number.

There has been an error. Please try again or contact our customer service.

Too many codes have already been requested for the mobile number. The function is blocked to prevent misuse.

Too many attempts. Please request a new code or contact our customer service.

Change mobile number

Too many attempts. Please request a new code or contact our customer service.

This mobile number is already in use. Please change your mobile number or contact our customer service.

Change mobile number

The maximum number of codes for the specified number has been reached. No more codes can be created.

Confirm email address

We have sent you an email at the address {* emailAddressData *} Posted. Please check your e-mail inbox and confirm your account using the activation link you received.

Didn't get a message?

If you have not received an e-mail after 10 minutes, please check your SPAM folder and the details of your e-mail address.

Adjust user data

{* resendLink *}

Register and login


to register

With an SRF account, you have the option of entering comments on our website and in the SRF app.

{* #registrationForm *} {* firstName *} {* lastName *} {* emailAddress *} {* displayName *} {* mobile *} {* addressCity *} {* newPassword *} {* newPasswordConfirm *} {* / registrationForm *}

Confirm email address

We have sent you an email at the address {* emailAddressData *} Posted. Please check your e-mail inbox and confirm your account using the activation link you received.

Didn't get a message?

If you have not received an e-mail after 10 minutes, please check your SPAM folder and the details of your e-mail address.

Adjust user data

{* resendLink *}

Your activation email has been sent

Please check your e-mail inbox. The activation email has been sent.

Verified email address

Thank you for verifying your email address.

user account

In this view you can manage your user data.

{* savedProfileMessage *} {* / editProfileForm *}

Change Password

Deactivate account

User data saved successfully

You can view your data at any time in your user account.


Adjust user data

Change Password

Define a new password for your account {* emailAddressData *}.

{* #changePasswordForm *} {* currentPassword *} {* newPassword *} {* newPasswordConfirm *} {* / changePasswordForm *}

Create a new password

Define a new password for your account.

{* #changePasswordFormNoAuth *} {* newPassword *} {* newPasswordConfirm *} {* / changePasswordFormNoAuth *}

Password saved successfully

You can now log in to the article with your new password.

Create a new password

We did not recognize the code to reset the password. Please re-enter your email address so that we can send you a new link.

{* #resetPasswordForm *} {* signInEmailAddress *} {* / resetPasswordForm *}

Create a new password

You will shortly receive an email with a link to renew your password.

Didn't get a message?

If you have not received an e-mail after 10 minutes, please check your SPAM folder and the details of your e-mail address.

Deactivate account

Your account will be deactivated and you will not be able to reactivate it. Recorded comments are not deleted.

Do you really want to deactivate your account?

{* deactivateAccountForm *} {* / deactivateAccountForm *}

Account deactivated

Your account has been deactivated and can no longer be used.
If you would like to register again for the comment function, please contact SRF customer service.

Footer


Metanavigation