Jay Z responded to the police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by releasing a protest song to TIDAL on Thursday night.
The track, called “Spiritual,” is not new. “I made this song a while ago, I never got to finish it,” Jay Z wrote in a statement. “Punch (TDE) told me I should drop it when Mike Brown died, sadly I told him, ‘This issue will always be relevant.’ I’m hurt that I knew his death wouldn’t be the last.”
Brown was shot and killed following an altercation with a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri back in August of 2014. His death was the subject of national protest and debate. “I’m saddened and disappointed in THIS America – we should be further along,” Jay Z continued in his note, adding in all-caps: “WE ARE NOT.”
“I trust God and know everything that happens is for our greatest good, but man… it’s tough right now,” he wrote. “Blessings to all the families that have lost loved ones to police brutality.”
The post ends with a quote from Frederick Douglass: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
In the song, which is streaming via TIDAL, Jay Z references the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” refrain that rose to prominence following Brown’s death. “Just a boy from the hood that/ Got my hands in the air/ In despair don’t shoot/ I just wanna do good.”
Jay Z joins a host of musicians speaking out against the deaths of Sterling and Castile, two black men shot and killed by police officers this week. Chance the Rapper, Questlove, Solange Knowles (Jay Z’s sister-in-law), and Beyoncé (Jay Z’s wife) have also commented on the deaths.
“We are sick and tired of the killings of young men and women in our communities,” Beyoncé wrote in the open letter on her website. “It is up to us to take a stand and demand that they ‘stop killing us.’”
She added, “We don’t need sympathy. We need everyone to respect our lives. We’re going to stand up as a community and fight against anyone who believes that murder or any violent action by those who are sworn to protect us should consistently go unpunished.”
Listen to “Spiritual” below.