Let’s Not Just Make Noise, Let’s Make a Difference

Fer­guson: The Rap Artists’ Response

It was announced on Novem­ber 24th that Police Officer Dar­ren Wilson would not face crim­in­al charges in regards to the shoot­ing of Michael Brown.

Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen­ager, was shot 6 times, and killed by officer Dar­ren Wilson on August 9th. Eye­wit­nesses stated that Brown posed no threat, and was walk­ing towards Wilson with his hands up when the shots were fired. This has promp­ted the sym­bol­ic “Hands up don’t shoot” ges­ture, which has become a poignant sign of protest.

The FBI states that around 400 “jus­ti­fi­able hom­icides” take place each year, ferguson i am hip hop magazinenation­wide. Some news invest­ig­a­tions have observed an out of the norm pre­val­ence. For example, Los Angeles exper­i­enced an increase in such incid­ents in 2011.

In addi­tion to this, a lead­ing invest­ig­at­ive out­let ProP­ub­lica, released a report in Octo­ber, which shows that young black men are 21 times more likely to be the vic­tim of a police shoot­ing than their white coun­ter­parts. The study stated “The 1,217 deadly police shoot­ings from 2010 to 2012 cap­tured in the fed­er­al data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per mil­lion, while just 1.47 per mil­lion white males in that age range died at the hands of police.”

Fol­low­ing the shoot­ing, a series of protests took place in the city, and were met by mil­it­ar­ized police. Civil­ians were sub­jec­ted to tear gas and rub­ber bul­lets, and a media block­ade was set up. News of the Fer­guson protests quickly spread through social media, and news out­lets, caus­ing a glob­al out­rage.

In the wake of the Grand Jury’s con­tro­ver­sial decision not to indict Dar­ren Wilson, a mul­ti­tude of prom­in­ent mem­bers of the hip-hop com­munity have come for­ward to express their anger and sor­row. Many stars have taken to twit­ter, includ­ing Rus­sell Sim­mons (@UncleRUSH) who pos­ted a plea for cit­izens to “begin with pray­er” and to be safe dur­ing this tumul­tu­ous time. Talib Kweli (@TalibKweli), who stated “Fer­guson my heart is with you” and who in an inter­view with CNN stated “we live in world that is run by white suprem­acy”


Artists have released songs in trib­ute and as a form of protest through­out the entire ordeal. Lauryn Hill released a sketch of her song “Black Rage” back in August, ded­ic­ated to Mike Brown, which speaks volumes about the social strat­i­fic­a­tion present in today’s soci­ety. A par­tic­u­larly res­on­at­ing line, “deaf­en­ing silence and social con­trol”, shines a harsh spot­light on soci­et­ies tend­ency to turn a blind eye, and truly per­son­i­fy the idiom “Ignor­ance is bliss”.


J. Cole, who vis­ited Fer­guson to pay his respects, is also among the artists that have writ­ten songs for Mike Brown and Fer­guson. In his track, “Be Free” which deb­uted on his Sound­cloud, Cole begs the ques­tion “are we all alone, fight­ing on our own”. The haunt­ing lyr­ics, accom­pan­ied by the eye­wit­ness account of Dori­an John­son, make the track a power­ful homage to Fer­guson.

The Game joined forces with an all-star lineup for his song “Don’t Shoot”. The Game states, “the issues in Fer­guson really hit home”, and that he “can­not fathom a hor­rif­ic tragedy like Michael Brown’s hap­pen­ing to them (his chil­dren)”. All money from the iTunes sales will be donated to the Mike Brown Memori­al Fund.

Jasiri X made a song called 212 Degrees refer­ring to our social situ­ation that is in a boil­ing point, he stated “The lid is about to blow off this whole mas­quer­ade”


With protests about the shoot­ing of Mike Brown and the attempt to make a sys­tem­ic change, now becom­ing a glob­al effort, cham­pioned by people from all walks of life, it is clear that the tragedy has sparked the begin­ning of a new era. To quote Michael Brown’s grief-stricken par­ents, “Let’s not just make noise, let’s make a dif­fer­ence”.

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.
Gata Malandra

Gata Malandra

Edit­or / Research­er at No Bounds
Gata is a music and arts lov­er, stud­ied anthro­po­logy, art man­age­ment and media pro­duc­tion ded­ic­at­ing most of her time to cre­at­ive pro­jects pro­duced by No Bounds.
Gata Malandra

Latest posts by Gata Malandra (see all)

About Gata Malandra

Gata Malandra
Gata is a music and arts lover, studied anthropology, art management and media production dedicating most of her time to creative projects produced by No Bounds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *