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Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Fists Of Fury’ By Kamasi Washington

Jazz musician Kamasi Washington reworked the theme for Bruce Lee’s “Fists Of Fury” film into a theme for the movement for black lives.

The song appears on Washington’s forthcoming double album, “Heaven and Earth,” as part of the “Earth side” that he says will represent the world as he sees it outwardly, “the world he is a part of.”

Patrice Quinn, a vocalist who is part of Washington’s band, The Next Steps, and Dwight Trible, a longtime jazz musician who has collaborated with legends like Pharaoh Sanders, sing the lyrics.

Washington incorporates the same lyrics that make up the first verse. “I use hands to help my fellow man. I use hands to do just what I can. And when I’m faced with unjust injury, then I change my hand to fists of fury.”

There is an interlude with ethereal saxophone atop a crackling rhythm. Washington uses his saxophone to add to the rhythm. A dynamic piano solo gives way to Washington playing a solo to conclude the interlude. The notes Washington plays become increasingly coarse until his sax fades o

Quinn sings, “Our time as victims is over. We will no longer ask for justice. Instead we will take our retribution.” Trible uses his rich baritone voice to powerfully repeat and echo these words.

It is clear the “fists of fury” in Washington’s rendition are the fists every individual struggling for dignity and liberation thrusts up into the air to let their oppressors know they will not back down.

Black lives will no longer allow themselves to be marginalized and subjugated. For every unjust act committed, there will be a deserved response.

Listen to “Fists of Fury”:

April Stephenson. Photo via C-SPAN: https://www.c-span.org/video/?289744-3/oversight-contractor-business-systems-internal-controls
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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."