We've written about about the songs that demonstrators played out their cars and on portable speakers as they protested the death of Freddie Gray. Now, as musicians from the area start to process and reflect on the #BaltimoreUprising, we present the first batch of songs inspired by these events. Below is a list. We'll add to it as needed:
Canopy - 'Spring City'
Recorded outside the Charmery the night the curfew was lifted, this 26-minute track of kalimba and tamboura is calm and peaceful, just as the city was after weeks of turmoil.
Old Lines - 'Midnight in Baltimore'
The hardcore song begins with a refrain of "No justice! No peace!" and then boils over into thrashing guitars and a gruff vocal. It ends, triumphantly, with a recorded chants of "All night! All day! We will fight for Freddie Gray!" and "Whose streets? Our streets!"
<a href="http://oldlines.bandcamp.com/album/midnight-in-baltimore">Midnight in Baltimore by Old Lines</a>
PulseWidthMod - 'An Awakening'
The dark, synth-y track builds with bleeps and bloops, offering the occasional vocal sample: "There's been an awakening. Have you felt it?"
Damond Blue - 'Oh Baltimore'
The song takes its title from the chorus of the Randy Newman song later covered by Nina Simone. Blue laments the "crooked-ass cops" and busted streets but still finds the hometown to "keep on reppin' [his] city."
Jahiti - 'Protest Show'
The singer-songwriter's track reflects many of the events from the last couple of weeks, saying Freddie Gray was right to run, asking why the transit was shut down at Mondawmin Mall, and offering a scathing critique of the media.
Don Trunk - 'Let Us Protest'
With an opening hook of "Let us protest/ Let us protest/ Fuck the police, they done left our streets a mess," this hip-hop/R&B hybrid shows that continual police brutality makes protest a necessity.
Murda One - '#JusticeForFreddieGray'
Released before State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges for all six officers involved with Freddie Gray's murder, this blistering track suggests "we strap up and go to war like a militia." The hook is more plaintive: "No justice/ No justice for Freddie Gray/ No peace/ Will I live to see another day?"
JAPIRO - '#Baltimore2015Riots'
Touching on everything from media coverage of looting to taxes to perception of Barack Obama, this song packs in plenty of perspective. Bonus: An interview with Justin Fenton talking about the "purge" ahead of the unrest at Mondawmin Mall is sampled.
Judah Adashi - 'Rise (Invocation)'
By linking the death of Freddie Gray with the march on Selma, Alabama in 1965, this solemn instrumental piece shows that, despite the advances of the civil rights movement, there is still a lot of work to be done.
<a href="http://judahadashi.bandcamp.com/track/rise-invocation">Rise (Invocation) by Judah Adashi</a>
Comrade - 'Right Back'
Here, Comrade uses his name as a term of endearment, urging people to band together and fight police. "This Baltimore City, bitch, we fight back."
Lor Chris - '#Justice4Freddie'
While this track loads the inflammatory rhetoric on pretty thick in the beginning—"And fuck the mayor, that bitch a clown"—it progresses into a memorial ("Pray for his family/ 'cause they didn't deserve that/ God bless 'em") and then a call for unity: "Let's come together for Freddie Gray."
Dboi Da Dome x Baby - 'Fuck 12'
With "12" being code for police, this follows in the grand tradition of N.W.A. and Lil Boosie with an updated twist for our current era of police brutality: "Fuck 12/ They ain't playing fair/ They killing niggas, every city, everywhere."
Lonnie Moore - 'Changes (A Tribute to Baltimore City)'
A rework of the 2Pac song 'Changes,' Lonnie Moore's take offers a similarly large view of recent events, touching on racism, inner-city poverty, and violence. "I'm praying for a change/ anybody with a heart should be praying for the same."
Al Rogers Jr. - 'Honey'
Starting with nostalgic images from youth, the song grows into an indictment of racism and police, referencing Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner. "See, this system is set up for us to lose/ rebel and get through."
Schwarz - 'FUCK THE POLICE END POLICE BRUTALITY END WHITE SUPREMACY END THE WAR ON DRUGS'
This playlist combines a few of the songs above with news footage and Rage Against the Machine's 'Killing In the Name.' See also: Schwarz's club track 'Hand's Up Don't Shoot.'