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Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Blood Money’ By Protoje

The Jamaican musician Protoje released his most recent single “Blood Money” in February, and in July, he followed it up with a gripping video, illustrating government corruption, economic inequality, and social injustice in his home country.

Protoje emphasizes the way the drug business and money laundering shapes life and culture, and the relationships that tend to exist between high-status criminals and politicians: “Politician take the donation / so nuff criminal will never see a station,” he sings.

“Police cancel operation,” Protoje continues on the radical reggae single’s explosive chorus. “Cause nuh real bad man nah go station / Now if you check the situation / A blood money run the nation.”

“With all that is happening in Jamaica, criticism is often one-sided and directed to the have-nots,” he told Fader earlier this year. “The people who have less are made to seem like the problem in society. This is unfair, hypocritical, and widely inaccurate. This song seeks to bring about certain conversations, to talk about what is really happening in our society.”

Protoje uses the first verse to explain how, in conversations about crime, fingers are often pointed at the nation’s have-nots, when it is often the most well-off citizens who are connected to criminal industries. He highlights the neighborhood Cherry Garden, an example of a place full of upper class affluent residents, many of whom are involved in criminal industries that pay off the government by donating to campaigns.

In the second verse, Protoje alludes to a recent case, where a driver of a BMW X6 shot at a taxi, killed a teenager, and walked free: “Was ’bout to buy an X6 you know / Maybe then I’d never have to be prisoner…  Was ’bout to be a politician too … Maybe then I’d make a hundred million disappear … Watch you vote me back in there,” he sings.

He criticizes the state motto “Out Of Many, One People” and points out the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor in the third verse.

One of the song’s most compelling lines is one with universal relevance to anyone who finds themselves surrounded by injustice: Come take a look inna Jamaica /  Injustice in the place now / If what you see no really phase you / Then you a the problem that we face too.”

“The song itself speaks more about corruption on a high level,”  Protoje told Pigeons and Planes. “But with the video we wanted to illustrate how corruption seeps through all levels of society, and how we often become complicit in its perpetuation.”

*Listen and watch the video by clicking the player at the top.

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Are you an artist who has written and/or produced a protest song that you would like featured? Or do you have a favorite protest song?

Submit a song for Shadowproof’s “Protest Song Of The Week” to protestmusic@Shadowproof.com

Dana (left) and Marty (right) Gottesfeld. Photo from Free Marty G: http://freemartyg.com/
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Liz Pelly

Liz Pelly