The following post was originally published at Ongoing History of Protest Songs.
“Lockdown” was released on Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the liberation of slaves on June 19, 1865.
Anderson .Paak composed the tune based on his own experience attending Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others at the hand of police officers. He created a sad reminder that despite any progress there is still a long way to go for justice.
The recently released remixed version features additional poignant verses from JID, Noname, and Jay Rock.
JID’s verse includes the hard-hitting line, “All the black girls missin’ and endin’ up inside the coffins. But you mad when they hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on front your sidewalks.” It points to the ignorance of the “All Lives Matter” crowd.
Noname’s verse includes a callback to Billie Holiday’s 1939 anti-lynching protest anthem “Strange Fruit” with the lyric, “Eat their apple pie in the morning then bury the strange fruit.” The juxtaposing of the American symbol of apple pie with strange fruit is a powerful commentary on how misguided patriotism causes individuals to whitewash over both past and current atrocities.
Jay Rock’s verse includes the line “Knee on our necks, bullets in backs.” The “knee on our neck” isn’t just a clear reference to the murder of George Floyd, it could also serve as a metaphor of how the Black community continues to be held back by systemic racism.
Altogether, the artists combine for a radically introspective and reflective tune on why people are rising, especially during a pandemic.