Questlove: Artists Are Scared to Release Protest Music

Questlove: Artists Are Scared to Release Protest Music

Musician sheds light on the “fear of being blackballed.”

Published December 24, 2014

A few weeks ago, Questlove took to Instagram to urge artists to "be a voice of the times we live in" and he's backing up that statement with an explanation of why he thinks there's been a lack protest music. 

Given continuing demonstrations against police brutality, there’s certainly much to talk about, but anything deemed "protest music" is too risky, he says. 

"I think a lot of it is just due to fear of being blackballed and not making a living," he told Billboard. The Roots drummer pointed to the backlash Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines received for blasting President George Bush, as an example. The perception is that if a country star can get shunned, there’s no hope for hip hop and the like. “We were like, 'Man, if a white woman can lose her career in the United States for speaking up for what's right, then s**t, we'll get the electric chair.’”

That “bottom line” is what has “rendered America silent,” Questlove added, although that doesn’t mean every artist falls into that category. D’Angelo, for example, decided that the timing was right to release Black Messiah, based on the climate in the aftermath of police killings of Eric Garner and Mike Brown

Going forward, Questlove predicts that a new wave of artistry is on its way in. “With this D'Angelo record, there's definitely going to be a sea change of people not being afraid anymore, and really putting their art ahead of their commerce concerns.”

Click here to check out a look at Civil Rights Era Protest Songs.

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(Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Written by Latifah Muhammad

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