Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Uprising 2020 [Joe Levy Spotify Playlist, 2020]
Because Levy keeps track of one-shot singles and hip-hop here-and-gones, even checks out videos, I asked him to assemble the best protest music generated by the June marches my inability to walk kept me from joining. And although from Meek Mill to Dua Saleh a few of his finds seem flat or pro forma to me, an emphatic majority deserve to outlast their moment and a few are astonishing. Not just Run the Jewels' "JU$T," but most of the hard raps and crossover reports that precede it: Public Enemy's forever militant "State of the Union (STFU)," YG's Ku Klux Kops "FDT" follow-up "FTP," Anderson .Paak's proudly catchy, meticulously reported "Lockdown," Trey Songs's pained, weary "How Many Times," and best of all Atlanta trap pro Lil Baby's aggressively multivalent "The Bigger Picture," which catalogues the right, the wrong, and the justifiable over an experiential expanse with room for the astonishing couplet "I can't lie I don't write about killing and dope/But I'm tellin' my younguns to vote." That's my very favorite thing here. But don't even think about tuning out Beyoncé's deep-rooted "Black Parade" or H.E.R.'s outraged "I Can't Breathe" or Terry Ellis's fed up "Angry Black Woman" or especially my other very favorite thing here: Alicia Keys's heartbreaking "Perfect Way to Die," the impact of which I wouldn't dare soften by trying to explain it. Sheer pained inspiration. [link] A-