TIME Music

J. Cole Responds to Michael Brown Shooting With an Emotional New Song

WGCI Summer Jam 2014
Raymond Boyd—Getty Images Rapper J. Cole performs at the United Center during the "WGCI-FM Summer Jam 2014" on June 22, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.

"All we wanna do is break the chains off / All we wanna do is be free"

Rapper J. Cole released a new track with a somber tone today, sharing his reactions to the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

“That coulda been me, easily. It could have been my best friend,” he wrote in a blog post. “I’m tired of being desensitized to the murder of black men. I don’t give a f–k if it’s by police or peers. This s–t is not normal.”

Cole’s sentiment comes through on his new tribute to Brown, titled “Be Free.” He sounds like he’s on the verge of tears as he sings over a simple, grave piano loop. “And now I’m in denial,” the song begins. “And it don’t take no X-ray to see through my smile.” Later in the track, he repeats the following lyrics: “All we wanna do is break the chains off / All we wanna do is be free.”

It’s one of Cole’s rawest, most emotional recordings to date. Listen here:


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