Rappers and R&B singers have been among the most emotionally compelling voices on the death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by the gun of a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the tensions that have ensued since. Killer Mike spoke up early on social media, followed by Big Boi, Janelle Monáe, T.I. and Frank Ocean; J. Cole released Brown tribute “Be Free.” Common sent a video message to Ferguson and spoke out about it at the MTV Video Music Awards. Most powerfully, Lauryn Hill shared her stunning “Black Rage (Sketch)” alongside a call for peace in Missouri.
As time has stretched on since Brown’s August 9 shooting, the music has mirrored the frustration. The song on police-involved killings from 50 Cent‘s G-Unit, with a video arriving just in time for The New York Times headline “In Aftermath of Missouri Protests, Skepticism About the Prospects for Change,” is titled “Ahhh Shit.” Now the Game has assembled a group of 10 rappers and four R&B singers for “Don’t Shoot,” a nation-spanning collaboration in the lineage of the East Coast rap community’s 1989 “Self Destruction” and the West’s “We’re All in the Same Gang” a year later. The Game’s collaborators here are Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Diddy, Fabolous, Wale, DJ Khaled, Swizz Beatz, Yo Gotti, Curren$y, Problem, King Pharaoh and R&B supergroup TGT, which consists of Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank.
The Game told Rolling Stone: “I am a black man with kids of my own that I love more than anything, and I cannot fathom a horrific tragedy like Michael Brown’s happening to them. This possibility has shaken me to my core. That is why this song must be made and why it was so easy for so many of my friends to come together and unite against the injustice.”