2020 will be remembered for two things: the Coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matters movement coming to the fore, following the death of George Floyd in America. We have yet to see the impact of the former on the music scene but, as with much else, music has led the way in the responses to the latter. Here at Angry Baby, we have featured the work of Sadie Jemmett, Jonno Casson (Snippets) and Sharon Lazibyrd and now we can bring you ‘What Will They Say About Us?’ from new artist James Billett. James is partnering with Black Minds Matter UK for the single release, although the song was written long before the death of George Floyd. In becoming relevant once again, the song is proven to be correct – we are stuck in a pattern of mistakes that we cannot help but repeat.
The music video emphasises the endless cycle of violence and disregard for human rights, as we see James take the back seat. The video sees the impact of police brutality and assault on marginalised groups, encompassing the #MeToo movement, highlighting the experience of black women. “I wrote ‘What Will They Say About Us?’ because I couldn’t help but write it,” says James. “The song is a call to break the cycle of repeated mistakes… The world today seems unrecognisable at times, and this felt like a release of the pent up frustration from watching the world fall into patterns we’ve seen too many times before.” A singer with a smooth, rich voice that flows with empathy, James also proves himself to be a talented wordsmith:
Why are we so afraid of just a different shade? / all became clear when we failed to hear the warning / no one is listening
It seems crazy and inexplicable that these songs are still relevant and still necessary in 2020 but there is hope that this time, the Black Lives Matter movement will help the world to move towards true equality. On a practical level, James’ partners in this release, Black Minds Matter are aiming to provide mental health services across the UK for Black families and to make mental health topics relevant and accessible for all Black people in the UK. The organisation was formed just days following the death of George Floyd, and in response to the deterioration of Black mental health. The founder, Agnes Mwakatuma, says “We are thrilled to be partnering with James Billett for the release of ‘What Will They Say About Us?’ – the video is truly powerful and is sure to draw a lot of attention to this essential cause. We really appreciate the support of this fantastic artist.”
James’ previous single, ‘Faith Over Family‘ is another thoughtful look at prejudice, this time in relation to gay rights. It tells the story of a father choosing faith over family when his son comes out as gay. A mix of happiness in love and bitterness at the poor treatment of the son by the father, ‘Faith Over Family’ is a song that sings of frustration, anger and ultimately, loss for both the son and the father. As James sings,
It’s only hatred that will stay if you don’t change
It would be easy to write this song off as a damnation of religious beliefs but dig deeper and you find a track that ponders the human relationships that make everything happen in life and declares that the future is full of love and empathy; without those two things, nothing can move forward.
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