August 15, 2014


Listen to J. Cole's Tribute to Michael Brown, "Be Free"

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Clear Channel
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Clear Channel

In light of Michael Brown's death and protests in Ferguson, Missouri, J. Cole has made his statement with a new track "Be Free." Over the somber strains of the piano, Cole pleads for peace as he moves from impassioned singing to spoken-word sections. "All we want to do is take the chains off / All we want to do is be free," he declares, sounding as if he's on the verge of tears.

Cole's sections are interspersed with recorded accounts from the shooting as witnesses detail what they saw happen in Ferguson. There's no rapping on "Be Free," but instead a vulnerable sing-talk approach, mixed with people's recollections, that leaves a chill in your spine and a lot for your mind to mull over.

Cole made some reflections on his Dreamvillian blog, sharing the following message with the song:

There was a time in my life when I gave a f-ck. Every chance I got I was screaming about it. I was younger. It’s so easy to try to save the world when you're in college. You got nothing but time and no responsibility. But soon life hits you. No more dorms, no more meal plan, no more refund check. N***a need a job. N***a got rent. Got car note. Cable bill. Girlfriend moves in and becomes wife. Baby on the way. Career advances. Instagram is poppin. Lebron leaves Miami. LIFE HITS. We become distracted. We become numb. I became numb. But not anymore. That coulda been me, easily. It could have been my best friend. I’m tired of being desensitized to the murder of black men. I don't give a f-ck if it’s by police or peers. This sh-t is not normal.

I made a song. This is how we feel.
- Cole

If there was ever a timely Song of the Day, it's "Be Free." Listen below.