Local Current Blog

Today’s Music News: Musicians express sadness, anger over Ferguson

Lizzo, seen here in the Current's studios, is among the musicians speaking out regarding the situation in Ferguson, Mo. Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR.

Protests and tensions continue in Ferguson, Missouri after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, and numerous musicians are sharing their views on the situation—many expressing anger and sadness. Chuck D, Questlove, John LegendFrank Ocean, Talib Kweli, Moby, and Rage Against the Machine‘s Tom Morello have criticized the actions of local law enforcement, and Diddy has asked President Obama to visit the turbulent city. Nelly is working with Brown’s family to establish a scholarship fund in Brown’s honor, and J. Cole released a poignant song in Brown’s memory. (Billboard) “Hard to sleep when you’re waking up to the unknown and unjust,” wrote Lizzo on Twitter yesterday.

On Monday, Taylor Swift announced a forthcoming album to be released on Oct. 27 and titled 1989; Swift released a single, “Shake It Off,” with an accompanying video that shows the country-turned-pop star awkwardly gyrating with several groups of dancers. One of the groups includes black women twerking, which immediately recalled debates over controversial appearances and videos by Miley CyrusKaty Perry, and Lily Allen. Among the critics was Earl Sweatshirt, who immediately criticized the video (albeit admitting he hadn’t watched it) as “perpetuating black stereotypes to the same demographic of white girls who hide their prejudice by proclaiming their love of the culture.” Others defended the video as simply celebrating different types of dance. (Billboard, Consequence of Sound)

Billboard notes that the song is on track to hit the top of the pop charts, so whatever you think of the song and the video, chances are you’ll be hearing a lot more of it.

Chances are also that your favorite musician has recently dumped a bucket of ice water over his or her head as part of the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” a campaign to raise awareness and funds to fight the disease ALS. Among the artists you’ve heard on the Current, some who have been publicly doused with ice water include Dave GrohlMacklemoreEddie Vedderthe RootsCarole King, and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Not yet purified in the icy waters are HAIM, but then, they’ve been busy making a new video for “My Song 5.” The video, which has the sisters and guest rapper A$AP Ferg appearing on a fictional tell-all talk show, includes cameos from GrimesKeshaVampire Weekend‘s Ezra Koenig, and many others.

Musicians including Elvis CostelloMarcus MumfordMy Morning Jacket‘s Jim JamesTaylor Goldsmith of Dawes, and Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops appear on “Nothing to It,” the first track to be released from Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes—a compilation that has an all-star cast of collaborators setting Bob Dylan lyrics to music and recording the resulting songs, under the supervision of T-Bone Burnett. The full album will be released on November 11. (Rolling Stone)

Leonard Cohen released “Almost Like the Birds,” a jazzy but typically dark song from his forthcoming album Popular Problems. The album is slated for release on Sept. 23.

Billboard released a list of the 25 most popular music clubs—measured by annual attendance—in America. 12 of them are House of Blues locations, and none are in Minnesota.

The now-infamous hat Pharrell Williams wore to this year’s Grammys is to go on display in a museum. (NME)

  • gold lion

    the kid was a thug, these “musicians” are racist, and we’ve all had enough of the whining.

    • gold lion

      and my heart WAS heavy for michael brown, but then the facts came – surveillance video, witness statements, and autopsy. you’re a joke if you defend a person who thinks they’re above the law (and a violent theif at that).

      • Lydia Turner

        You really need to wake up. This isn’t just about Michael Brown, this is about how the mainstream American media depicts Black victims as thugs, as deserving of their punishment. The storeowners never said they believed Michael Brown was the individual who stole the item from their store and even if he did steal cigarillos, stealing tobacco and TAKING SOMEONE’S LIFE are absolutely not the same. He was shot at least 6 times. AT LEAST. An article I think you need to look at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/14/media-black-victims_n_5673291.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000047

        Your comments are absolutely absurd and baseless; playing right into the White American mainstream media’s hands. They’ve distracted you from the important facts here because America is a racist country that doesn’t value Black lives. Take. A. Seat.

        • gold lion

          lmao i’m already sitting. it’s not that his life being taken is justified by things he was stealing, it’s that him roughing up the storeowner and WITNESS STATEMENTS seem to make the police officer’s story of events believable. do you get shot in the top of the head if you’re running away from a cop? or if you’re charging toward him. there’s cell phone video of directly after the event of witnesses saying exactly what the cop said. the guy was thuggin it out and lost. on the other hand, i have great sympathy for the dude who was choked out by cop recently when he did nothing wrong. THAT is a life we should be marching for.

          • Lydia Turner

            “it’s not that his life being taken is justified by things he was stealing” Isn’t that contradicting what you had said before? That someone doesn’t deserve any sympathy because it’s your opinion that they “think they’re above the law”?

            The police officer racially profiled Michael Brown. “Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson — hours after documents came out labeling the 18-year-old Brown as the “primary suspect” in the store theft — told reporters the “robbery does not relate to the initial contact between the officer and Michael Brown.” The theft video is a diversion and an attempt to smear Michael Brown’s character simply because he’s Black. The officer shot Michael Brown with his hands in the air. If the people with the authority and power to avoid bloodshed chooses to let blood be spilled then they aren’t deserving of their power or authority.

            For a second, let’s say it was Mike Brown that stole the cigarillos in the video (which has not been substantiated by anyone, it’s been speculated and perpetuated by the press that it’s Brown; it’s just a heavy set black man in the video with no audio; and again, even the store owners never said they believed Mike Brown was the individual who stole from them), people break the law, especially when there’s systematic racism in place across our entire country put in place for White men to benefit because they’re the ones that make the laws.

            This system perpetuates the stereotype that all Black people (but especially Black men) are a problem, probably up to no good, and oppresses them into one way of being. Our society doesn’t value Black lives because this systematic racism has instilled that Black lives are not the same as White lives. Even you not naming “the dude who was choked out by cop” is erasure of a Black man’s humanity. His name was Eric Garner. We could also talk about Kajieme Powell who was shot by cops in St. Louis shortly after Mike Brown’s shooting and the inconsistencies of the police report and the video of the event taking place. They’re all lives people are marching for. This isn’t just about Mike Brown, though that spurned a lot of the motion forward into protest, this is about all Black lives lost and is forcing our country to actually discuss the MAJOR inequities of socioeconomic status, education (and lack thereof), policy, legislation, media and much more.