We are sad, afraid, and angry. We do not feel like this because the presidential candidate we supported lost. We feel like this because hate won. Very soon, though, we need to get to work. The president-elect’s campaign promises, actions (mocking a reporter with disabilities, using racist language about immigrant groups, intimidating a rape accuser who has live witnesses to his rape of her as a 13 year old child… please do not make us list it all), and now, 100-day plan show that our fellow Americans are in danger of losing their hard-won rights and basic safety. Already, hate crimes are occurring nationwide because hatred has been given a voice. We believe that love and goodness can win, but now we have to fight for it. We’ll take a little time to regroup this week, but the revolution’s imminent.
My Shot (Rise Up Remix) – The Roots feat. Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess
We could have made it through 2016 without Lin-Manuel Miranda, but it would have been much, much worse. We already loved the original My Shot for capturing both the revolutionary spirit of colonial America and of the present day. The new remix, released on the Hamilton Mixtape, takes it to 2016 and the present-day oppression of communities of color.
Fight Song (Democratic National Convention cover) – Rachel Platten
I never liked this song until this version premiered during the Democratic National Convention and reduced me to tears. It was a hopeful moment as we looked forward to the triumph of reason over reactionism, experience over showmanship, and for the love of all things holy, finally a woman in the position of Commander in Chief. It takes on a new meaning now, doesn’t it?
Alright by Kendrick Lamar
Alright became the unofficial anthem last summer when Black Lives Matter activists took the streets, and it was the perfect song – a track touching upon the unbearable pain and struggle while facing adversity in a seemingly hopeless situation. But the message was clear – we gon’ be alright.
Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) by K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, Residente
Racism and immigration were at the center of the election over the past year, thanks to an outrageous comment said on the same day He announced his candidacy: that Mexicans are rapists who bring drugs into the country. Blah blah, wall, blah blah. Around the same time, Hamilton was a hit Off-Broadway and preparing to make its move to the Richard Rodgers where it continues to live. In Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down), Alexander Hamilton and Marquis de Lafayette high five after saying the line, “Immigrants: we get the job done”. Word on the street (and IRL when we saw Hamilton) is that very single performance, this line gets an individual cheer. Because we all know it’s true and immigrants are the foundation of this country.
So what was brilliant for Lin-Manuel and co. for the Hamilton Mixtape was to take that line and turn it into its own track. Not only that, but features artists who themselves are immigrants or align with more than one country/nationality. K’naan, a Somali Canadian poet and rapper, kicks off the track by saying “I got 1 job, 2 jobs, 3 when I need them/I got 5 roommates in this one studio but I never really see them”, letting y’all know they weren’t going to sugarcoat the truth in the song. Interspersed with lyrics from Yorktown, Snow Tha Product, a female Mexican American rapper, comes in adding, “there ain’t a paper trail when you living in the shadows/We’re Americas ghost writers the credit is only borrowed.” That’s followed by Riz MC aka Riz Ahmed, a British Pakastani (who you might know from The Night Of), who spits, “Who these fugees what did they do for me but contribute new dreams”.
The last verse belongs to Puerto Rican rapper Residente, who’s 1/2 of of Calle 13 and whole halves (?) of Lin-Manuel – they’re cousins. He’s known for not holding back when it comes to his political beliefs in his music, and this is no different. In fact, his entire verse is in Spanish, as if they’re letting us know that the we’re entering an era that isn’t just dominated by one culture or race anymore – it’s diverse AF. Speaking to the Latinos in particular, he says, “We are like plants that grow without water/Without an American Passport/Because half of gringolandia is really Mexican terrain.”
Cold War by Janelle Monae
There is work for everybody now – for teachers and lawyers and journalists and parents and many others – and artists are a big part of the change we’ll need. Janelle has always beautifully put words and music to the struggles that millions of Americans are facing. We’re going to need her for these next four years. This is a cold war, you better know what you’re fighting for.
Formation by Beyonce
Beyonce’s Lemonade era kicked off with the release of Formation, an unapologetic black power and female anthem that had even people from middle America singing “I like my baby hair with baby hair and afros/I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils”. But her message is also one of believing that she (and her fans) can do anything they set their mind to, even if there are people trying to take her down or suppress her voice. “I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it/I twirl on them haters”
Soy Yo – Bomba Estereo
This went semi-viral earlier this year because of the adorable little girl in the video, but the message to keep singing, dancing and being yourself even if others don’t like it is one we need right now. Other thing we need right now: Spanish, lots of it, everywhere, because now we have a president-elect who says things like “bad hombres” (AND pronounces it “hambres.” So maybe he just hates angry dudes? But nah.)
Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down) by the cast of Hamilton
The phrase “the world turned upside down” kept popping up in my head when it became clear what the election results were, because it felt like everything I thought I knew was wrong and everything I feared would come true did, like we were in an alternate universe. I was obviously in the Denial step of the five stages of grieving. But this song – in the historical context – it tells the events that happened during the Battle of Yorktown, the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. A. Ham went (A.) Ham on the British, forcing them to surrender. But the number itself includes a multitude of inspirational lines that are ever more relevant today (and some I already mentioned before). We have Hamilton: “so the American experiment begins” and all his “My Shot” reprisals, in the anger and focus in spy on the inside Hercules Mulligan: “See, that’s what happens when you up against the ruffians/We in the shit now, somebody gotta shovel it!/Hercules Mulligan, I need no introduction/When you knock me down I get the fuck back up again!”, and in this exchange we must remember to this day:
Laurens: Black and white soldiers wonder alike if this really means freedom
Washington: Not. Yet
The Day Women Took Over by Common
A lot of us had hoped we were voting for the first female president on Tuesday, but just because she didn’t land the title of president-elect, it doesn’t mean she’s the last one to run for the high office. In Common’s track, off his new album Black America Again, he pictures a world where peace and unity truly exist on the sole fact that women are in charge. And I hope this hypothetical world isn’t as far off as it seems.