In a statement Jay Z said:
‘I made this song a year or so ago, I never got to finish it. Punch (TDE) told me I should drop it when Mike Brown died, sadly I told him, ‘this issue will always be relevant.
‘I’m hurt that I knew his death wouldn’t be the last…. I’m saddened and disappointed in THIS America – we should be further along. WE ARE NOT. I trust God and know everything that happens is for our greatest good, but man…. it’s touch right now. Blessings to all the families that have lost loved ones to police brutality.’
The statement ended with a quote from the 19th-century abolitionist campaigner Frederick Douglass: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organised conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
Lyrics website genius.com describes the song as one in which “Jay asserts his spirituality in dealing with issues of self-worth facing young black men in America”. The song’s hook is the most direct section to address police violence: “Yeah, I am not poison, no I am not poison / Just a boy from the hood that / Got my hands in the air / In despair, don’t shoot / I just wanna do good, ah.”
Alongside Jay Z, Swizz Beatz, Solange and Chris Brown have also released songs after the killings.