With a tumultuous four years ahead of us and a taxing and brutal history left to take responsibility for, political protest songs have always played a prominent role in music. Despite cries for celebrities to “stay out of politics,” from Bob Dylan to Creedence Clearwater Revival, these songs have provided ways for artists to raise their voices in the political process - sometimes subliminally or satirically.
Looking past the still-too-relevant protest songs of our predecessors, there have been recent (and much needed) politically charged inundations on our radios and streaming services. 30 Days, 30 Songs (now 1,000 Days, 1,000 Songs) and Our First 100 Days are two projects produced with the help of the nonprofit Revolutions Per Minute. Both projects have been a constant source of new content, releasing new songs based on our current political climate and governmental actions and policies.
Outside of these projects, individual artists have provided us with a slew of tracks inspired by climate change (“4 Degrees” by ANOHNI will make even the most dedicated tree huggers feel responsible), injustices plaguing the LGBTQ community (Troye Sivan’s “Heaven” and the video accompanying it is one powerful and emotional example) and the cruelty of police brutality and omnipresent grips of racism in our society sparking the Black Lives Matter movement.
The heated and powerful statements made by Run The Jewels, Kendrick Lamar and Solange - to name a few artists on this charged playlist - are part of the reason this was such a strong year for R&B and hip hop. More than providing amazing music, however, all of the artists on this playlist provide powerful and necessary commentary that is empowering and mobilizing communities around the world.