Local Current Blog

Friday Five: Minnesota musicians address racial injustice and police brutality

A still from Prince's 'Baltimore' video.

In light of the events that have been transpiring in Minneapolis, this week’s Friday Five will focus on local artists’ response to police violence throughout history.

astralblak – “What’s The Price?”

In a 2016 video, astralblak (fka ZULUZULUU) repeat the question “What’s the price for a young black man’s life?” and illustrate the all-too-common violence at a traffic stop for black Americans.

Prince – “Baltimore”

Throughout his decades of making music, Prince continually stressed themes of equity and liberation. His song “Baltimore” was released in 2015 following the protests in the titular city in response to the killing of Freddie Gray. The chorus reiterates the Black Lives Matter slogan, “If there ain’t no justice, then there ain’t no peace.”

Four Fists – “Nobody’s Biz”

Four Fists is the collaboration between P.O.S and Astronautalis. Released in 2018, the song’s lyrics and the video, reminiscent of “The Most Dangerous Game,” call the listener to direct action in response to injustice.

Various Artists – “Faded / We The People”

In 2018, more than 30 Twin Cities artists teamed up to create Dismembered and Unarmeda multimedia project which, according to their website, sought out to be “A sonic imagining of body, love, sorrow, trauma, history, pain, and rebirth.” Here, Sarah White, I Self Devine, and Errybody describe systematic cycles of abuse with production from MMYYKK and Greg Grease.

Guante – “Police Make The Best Poets”

Slam poet and hip-hop artist Guante performed his powerful “Police Make the Best Poets” for Button Poetry at Icehouse in 2018. Here, he dissects the ways in which language is used to manipulate narratives surrounding police brutality.