It's been two and a half tension-filled weeks since police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed eighteen-year-old Michael Brown. The young African American's death set off clashes in the streets between militarized police and angry residents, and many questions remain unanswered. Like rapper J.Cole's raw tribute song "Be Free," Emcee Classiq took to the mic to express his pain.
"Just reading the news and learning another person, and a young person at that, died by the hands of the law, that was just enough to dive in and finally speak up," the rapper says. The result is his newly released track, "Ferguson Freestyle."
The familiar saxophone sample from the Crusaders made popular by Queen Latifah's "U.N.I.T.Y" is on loop for the song. Emcee's Classiq's rhymes capture the frustration on the streets and the wider black community.
"The cop shot that boy / Why it happened / Cop was on some thug shit / Cuz a kid blocking traffic? / Madness / How many times this shit gonna happen? / 'Til we see justice served on police and they actions?"
The Anaheim-based rapper rattles off a number of men killed by police in high-profile cases, such as Manuel Diaz and Kimani Gray.
"Line for line, I have to say it made me feel a lot of different emotions because of how much an impact it has on our community, not just Ferguson," Emcee Classiq says. "My engineer Nick Coffey and producer Rubix made me more comfortable after we recorded it."
The freestyle ends with "fuck the police" repeated twice in a simmering rage. "I had families member locked up over B.S., friends harassed by police just by color of they skin or because they fit some kind of profile," the rapper adds. "I've been stopped plenty of times and asked questions that seemed out of scope. We learn and was taught: It is what it is."
Emcee Classiq keeps a hopeful eye on developments in Ferguson, asking people to stand up and speak up with him.
"Change only happens when people decided enough is enough," he says in a message to Ferguson residents. "People before us did it, so we all can too!"