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Jay Z Addresses Police Brutality in Powerful New Song ‘Spiritual’

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Following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two black men who were shot and killed in their respective cities of Baton Rouge, La. and St. Paul, Minn., Jay Z has released a new song, titled “Spiritual” that addresses police brutality.

In a note released alongside the song on TIDAL to both members and non-subscribers, Jay Z notes that the song was written previously.

“I made this song a while ago, I never got to finish it. 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…… I’m saddened and disappointed in THIS America – we should be further along. WE ARE NOT.”

Hov references Brown on the track as well, rapping the line, “Got My Hands in the air, in despair/Don’t shoot, I just wanna do good” — alluding to the phrase, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” associated with Brown’s fatal shooting by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. in 2014.

An outpouring of grief has followed the deaths of Sterling and Castile at the hands of police. On Friday, Americans were also mourning the deaths of five police officers shot in Dallas late Thursday.

This is the first track the rapper has released as a solo artist since his 2013 album, Magna Carta Holy Grail.

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Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com