The late singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone once said, "An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times," a statement that still rings true to this day. Whether the art is in the form of movies, images, stories, or songs, artists can use their experience and creativity to release works that can educate and uplift. Since May 26, 2020, Black Lives Matter protests have spanned across the world to fight against police brutality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Not only are people demanding to be treated equally and for murderous cops to be held accountable, their fight for justice is also taking place while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
As a result of the civil unrest, some artists have pushed back release dates for new music, while others are using their platforms to speak about the issues. Rapper Wale has been seen marching among protesters in Los Angeles during the past few weeks and decided to surprise his fans with his latest EP perfectly titled, The Imperfect Storm.
Less than a year since Wale released his critically-acclaimed album, Wow... That's Crazy with his powerful single, "Sue Me," the rapper returns with a six-track EP to address the current uprisings sweeping the world. His state of mind is on heavy display on the standout double track, "June 5th / QueenZnGodZ."
Naming the first part of the song, "June 5th" has Wale questioning the date because during these uncertain times, the days are running together. He highlights how people look to social media to see which topics are trending for the day, but sometimes the news can be a bit overwhelming. In the first verse he says,
"I try to watch the news but I'm lashing out / My daughter seen the murder on cellular phone / And that was not on purpose, was ordering Trollz."
As a father, Wale has a responsibility to try to protect his child, however this line could also make listeners ponder with the questions of, "When did you first experience racism?" or "When did you first realize the world doesn't treat everyone equally?"
Wale then goes on to poetically address topics such as cops having more pride in a badge than humanity, white women going full 'Karen' mode, white people only appreciating Black people for entertainment (shut up and dribble), and also realizing the world doesn't move without Black creativity.
"Okay who Black, who Black, who Black, who not? I know you mad, you mad, they mad they not / We the sports and the music, do the math, we the culture / And I gotta ask of you, what have you brought?"
The second part of the track, "QueenZnGodZ" is an ode to Black women, a topic Wale has never shied away from on his previous songs such as "BGM" and "Black Bonnie." On "QueenZnGodZ," Wale is well aware that Black women have always had his back, even during times of sadness and despair.
Very recently, the world learned about the murder of Black Lives protester Oluwatoyin Salau and people are still pleading for arrests of the cops that took the life of Breonna Taylor. If anything, Wale knows that Black women aren't protected or respected enough in many facets beyond the criminal justice system. Perhaps his musical odes can help change some mindsets, only time will tell.
If the Juneteenth weekend called for hearing music that is unapologetically Black, or you're binge shopping online and thinking about copping a Rolex Oyster Perpetual for your favorite women or men, make sure to put Wale's The Imperfect Storm in the rotation for all the days beyond.
Mya Singleton a.k.a. Mya Melody is a music writer hailing from the Bay Area. As the current music editor for TSFJ, think of her as the playlist virtuoso or the audio aficionado for sports fans everywhere. Although music is her first love, she occasionally partakes in any argument regarding the NBA. She's a huge Kobe Bryant fan who's still upset Chris Paul never became a Laker. To this day, Hardball is one of the saddest movies she's ever watched, R.I.P. G-Baby! Follow her as she navigates to change the face of music journalism and remember, a wise philosopher once said, "Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything."