Best Protest Song

City Paper

Like so many of us, Baltimore club experimentalist Schwarz spent weeks fuming over the murder of Mike Brown and the police squashing protests in Ferguson, Missouri. For Schwarz, the events perhaps resonate a bit more; he grew up in St. Louis and, via his Twitter, took to detailing firsthand and secondhand experiences with the aggressive police there. One tweet of many: “ONCE A BLACK FRIEND OF MINE WAS HARASSED BY COPS FOR HOURS BC HE WAS WEARING JEANS AND A WHITE T SHIRT.” And so, Schwarz cooked up a whip-smart club-music response to Ferguson, mixing Blaqstarr’s classic Bmore club chant “Hands up, thumbs down” with audio of protestors shouting, “hands up, don’t shoot,” and punctuating the propulsive track with the sounds of gunshots and the ear-splitting wails of the LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) used by police to freak out the protestors. The result is a danceable dose of protest rap, indebted to both Public Enemy’s political noise-rap and club music’s cathartic joy.

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