Local Current Blog

Friday Five: Minnesota artists demand systemic change

People raise their hands as they protest at the makeshift memorial in honour of George Floyd, on June 4, 2020 in Minneapolis. (CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Art has been a grounding force in the people’s fight for justice throughout history. If you know of a Minnesota music video we should feature in an upcoming post, please let me know: fridayfive [at] mpr.org.

Dua Saleh – “Body Cast”

Sudanese-American artist Dua Saleh‘s art has never been separate from their activism. On Instagram, they said, “‘body cast’ is a song about police brutality and injustice. I made it with Psymun last year and intended to save it for a project in the future but I can’t wait that long with what is happening in my city.” All of proceeds from this song will be donated to Minnesota based Black Visions Collective.

Nur-D – “42”

Self-proclaimed geek and activist Nur-D was arrested while working with Justice Aid Group, providing medical assistance to protestors during a peaceful demonstration at the capitol on June 1st. In a conversation with Jill Riley this week he said, “You can put me in jail 1,000 times. The reality is that these people need someone to patch them up. They’re human beings, and unfortunately, they’re not always treated like that by the people who don’t necessarily agree with their sense of justice.”

His song “42” was released in 2016 and details his experiences as a young black boy with police living on the “white side” of County Road 42 in his hometown of Rosemount.

Ethio Boy – “Second Class”

Ethiopian-American rapper Ethio Boy released his latest song “Second Class” in May 2020. He intersperses historical footage with modern-day scenes as he raps about the colonial roots of contemporary racism. He stresses the constant work that needs to be done to dismantle systemic racism with lines like, “Can’t wait for us to hurt to donate.”

Tall Paul – “Pieceful Revolution” feat. KnoX

Southside Minneapolis Native American rapper Tall Paul released his song “Pieceful Revolution” in 2015 and its themes of people banding together for civil rights to be relevant. Tall Paul has a history of activism and has been playing benefit shows for social justice and much more for nearly a decade.

P.O.S – “sleepdrone/superposition”

At nearly nine minutes, P.O.S’s 2016 song “sleepdrone/superposition” is a remarkable odyssey featuring a legion of musicians local and beyond including Lizzo, Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna, Allan Kingdom, Eric Mayson, and Hard_R to name a few. Lyrically the Doomtree rapper intertwines his personal pain with the trauma of the larger community in lines like “I’m Mike Brown/ I’m Eric Garner/ I can’t breathe.”