What’s Going On: Kendrick Lamar, D’Angelo, J. Cole, Kanye West, and the New Sound of Protest Music «

What’s Going On: Kendrick Lamar, D’Angelo, J. Cole, Kanye West, and the New Sound of Protest Music «.

No other lyrics more perfectly captured the spirit bubbling under the surface of hip-hop in the latter half of 2014 than those sung in J. Cole’s cracking, raspy-voiced performance of “Be Free” on The Late Showon December 10. Clad in a “Fuck Money Spread Love” hoodie, and rocking the post-natural, 2014 version of the revolutionary ’fro, Cole used the venerable Ed Sullivan Theater as a pulpit, bringing attention to Ferguson and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. He provided an anthem for protests taking place just blocks away. While late-night performances are usually for album promotion — in this case for Cole’s surprising 2014 Forest Hills Drive — it was clear Cole was about more than selling records. He was making a statement.

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