Roc Nation’s New Album “REPRISE” Is a Unified Demand for Reparations and Social Justice

Roc Nation has come together on a brand new collaborative album, Reprise. The sole mission of these various artists was to create a project that is devoted towards unearthing and creatively articulating the social injustice and systematic racism of our country.

Reprise has features from Buddy, Ty Dolla $ign, Jorja Smith, Vic Mensa, Rapsody, D Smoke and many more. Not only is Reprise grounded in voicing and spreading Roc Nation’s truth to the world – Reprise is also deeply rooted in taking tangible actions towards enacting and supporting revolutionary change. 

All of the net proceeds from the album will go towards funding multiple social justice organizations such as Grassroots Law Project, Until Freedom, The Gathering For Justice, Justice League NYC, Equal Justice Initiative, and NACDL.

Photo Credit to grassrootslaw.org

Each track throughout the album tackles a different issue of the social injustice ladder – from police brutality, mass incarceration, to structural racism.  As all these artists use their craft to spread awareness on each of these various issues – Roc Nation has an organization to match that they are pouring their support into.

The combination of utilizing music’s blunt force of being able to both get a profound message across to the globe while also taking the funds to pour back into organizations that are committed towards fighting for equality and reparations is quite a revolutionary act on its own. 

The first and last track of the album shares the title of “Revolution” – a symbolic representation of a fight that will not cease to end until justice, peace, and reparations are made. On that first track of the album, Buddy’s voice and flow mimic the sound of persistent gun-shots going off as he tackles the threat of police brutality. 

He raps, “As soon as the racist cops see a n**** they pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. No time to grieve, turn off the TV, run in the street. Not in the league taking a knee, when is this shit gonna stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. Black man shot dead, white man got bread huh? Tell Donald I’ma need my reparations in all Tubmans just to rub it in.”

With the bars, Buddy is directly addressing the persistent absence of reparations being paid to African Americans while also paying homage to Harriet Tubman – and the lack of honor she has received in our country’s refusal to have her be able to make her appearance on the $20 bill.

The intersectional organization, Until Freedom, would best serve the ways Buddy is addressing: how structural racism takes on the form of ensuring a trap of poverty for African Americans to fall into. Until Freedom’s mission is to ensure that the most vulnerable and impacted by poverty, inequality, and perpetual state violence are prioritized. 

The permeating and overwhelming presence of grief is everywhere on this album as it continues to haunt the African American community. It is one thing for black lives to be repeatedly taken over centuries – that ancestral grief could never be washed away, but that grief becomes even that more unescapable when justice and reparations are not found anywhere in the mourning process. 

Tracks, “Sullen Sunday” and “NO MORE TEARDROPS” directly address the attack of grief that African Americans are constantly having to battle as a result of police brutality: black mothers losing their sons and daughters from them while they are simply taking a walk to the local store for a snack, or merely sleeping in their own bed at night.

On the track “NO MORE TEARDROPS” Vic Mensa, Wyatt Waddell, and Malik Yusef rap “I’m tired of only seein’ n***** at the funeral. Tired of learning my homie’s name at the eulogy. I’m in the courtroom pulling my hair out, cause I get another year for each one of my dreadlocks.”

The Grassroots Law Project and The Gathering of Justice purpose is to work towards criminal justice reform and dismantling the racial inequity that encompasses our legal system. These organizations fight to reform our legal system by directly confronting and addressing those who are in authoritative positions: our elected officials, police departments, prosecutor offices, and the media.

Track, “12 Problems” has Rapsody proclaiming, “I got 99 problems and 12 still the biggest. Baton, bullets, and triggers.” 

Rapsody is directly not only highlighting police brutality but the war on drugs and how it directly feeds into the mass incarceration of African Americans. She addresses the staggering number of black men who are serving sentences for the possession of marijuana, regardless of it it’s growing legalization. 

The Equal Justice Initiative is called upon by Roc Nation on this track as its organization provides legal representation to prisoners who have been falsely convicted of crimes. The Equal Justice Initiative also works to assist prisoners who cannot afford proper legal representation, or who have been denied the opportunity for a fair, just trial. 

Track, “Me vs. America” has King Mel expressing the internal war he feels himself always having to revolt against. He raps, Black beautiful queen Breonna Taylor, say her name and listen. You don’t understand what the problem is, you ain’t tryna pay attention.”

The album winds down with tracks like “By Any Means”, “Black & Proud”, and “Another Youth” that reinforce that rebel, revolutionary energy to rise. Jorja Smith is crying out that by any means she will fight – while artists AJ Tracey and Unknown T speak on the polarity of being both proud of their heritage and also acknowledging the profound level of pain that can come along with it.

Artist Chronixx stresses the importance of staying consistent towards pushing for the revolution by addressing their concerns for future generations of black children. They convey the level of danger of what will happen if we don’t continue to fight, how this repetitive cycle of racism will only continue to occupy their future too. 

This brings us back to Roc Nation’s beginning and final notion/solution: Revolution ( Reprise ).  This repetitive cycle of systematic racism must also be met head to head with its counterpart – a repetitive, unflinching cycle of actively rebelling against racist institutions. That means just as how relentlessly black lives are being robbed, we also must be as relentless in protesting, speaking out, and consistent in holding those who are responsible accountable. 

The relentlessness of our country’s racist institutions must not be merely defunded but abolished. This is about doing the work when no one is watching you. This is about doing the work outside of re-posting on social media. This is about having difficult conversations while also knowing when to simply listen. This about taking ownership of how to contribute to the revolution and what exactly has been and is at stake. This is about continually pouring into our communities of color and working in harmony with one another in order to reach change. 

Roc Nation has truly highlighted the power artists and music holds towards conveying a message. Roc Nation has also highlighted just how much art and social justice work are intertwined – how they can work so cohesively with one another. I would highly recommend purchasing the Roc Nation, “REPRISE” album if you can as a means to support the organizations that they are in collaboration with. However, the album is now available on all major streaming platforms.

Maddy Ipema

My name is Maddy Ipema, and you can usually find me with headphones blaring and a book on my lap! I am a senior at Columbia College Chicago, where I am majoring in fiction writing. I love writing in all forms, and mostly work in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry! Music is my main source of inspiration for life as well as my writing!

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