Jay-Z Released a Song About Police Brutality

July 8th 2016

Laura Donovan

Jay-Z isn't known for political raps, but the recent killings Alton Sterling and Philando Castile motivated the Brooklyn emcee to go public with a track about police brutality.

Jay Z and Beyonce

The track, "Spiritual," is the first Jay-Z has released as a leading artist since 2013's "Magna Carta...Holy Grail," and it is available on his platform TIDAL for both subscribers and non-subscribers. Jay-Z wrote on TIDAL that he was initially advised to release "Spiritual" after Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in 2014, but that he "sadly" felt that the issue would "always be relevant."

“I made this song a year or so ago, I never got to finish it,” Jay-Z said. “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 tough right now. Blessings to all the families that have lost loved ones to police brutality."

The lyrics include statements such as "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 want to do good."

While Jay-Z doesn't often explicitly reference political issues in his music, "Spiritual" isn't unprecedented. In his remix of Lil' Waynes "A Milli," he cites the NYPD's 2006 of killing Sean Bell, an unarmed black man.

Shawn Carter, Sean Bell, what's the difference? Do tell.
50 shots or 50 mill', ain't no difference, go to hell.

Jay-Z's song release followed his wife Beyoncé's emotional response to Castile and Sterling's deaths on her Instagram page and website.


A photo posted by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

"We are sick and tired of the killings of young men and women in our communities," Beyoncé wrote on her website. "It is up to us to take a stand and demand that they ‘stop killing us.’ We don’t need sympathy. We need everyone to respect our lives."

You can listen to "Spiritual" below: