LL Cool J has proved he’s still got it when it comes to delivering powerful messages via rap. He didn’t need a beat or background track for the 2:39 message he released via an Instagram video on June 1. It was based around the death George Floyd after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck following his arrest for allegedly using a forged $20 bill at a deli. But LL also addressed systematic racism in America, police brutality and the recent nationwide protests over Floyd’s in-custody death. The 52-year-old actor/rapper could be seen wearing a Black Lives Matter logo hoodie and looked straight into the camera during the video.
LL — real name James Smith — blasted America’s history with racial discrimination, dating back to slavery. “For 400 years we had your knees on our necks // A garden of evil with no seeds of respect // In America’s mirror all she sees is regret // Instead of letting blood live they begging for blood let,” he began.
He then lit into Floyd’s death and name checked now-fired Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, 44, who was arrested and charged on May 29 with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s May 25 death. The 46-year-old was seen on the ground telling Chauvin he couldn’t breathe, as the officer kneeled on his neck against the pavement while Floyd was already handcuffed.
LL then took on the protests that followed Floyd’s death. “After Chauvin killed George Floyd, we got next! // Molotov cocktails, anarchy on the set // The rich took the loot so now we loot sh*t! // Feeling like a caged tiger that’s whipped to do tricks // That’s why I started fires, yelled and threw bricks // They tried to run me over and arrest me and sh*t // Tazed, pepper spray and a gaze with the kid,” LL continued with fury.
LL even addressed his own experiences with racism while growing up, and how sadly, not much has changed since then. “God only knows how deep this plan goes, I was dealing with this sh*t as a teen in Kangols // Harassed by the cops, word to my ancestors souls // And watching that man die slow left a hole // He cried for his mama as the murder unfold // If it wasn’t for those phones, Chauvin would be at home // Feeling justified ’cause of George’s skin tone,” referring to how without the bystanders’ video, the world might not have known what happened to George Floyd while in police custody.
LL ended his message by rhyming, “We refuse to live in hell while you live in paradise // Being black in America is like rolling a pair of dice // Only the stakes are way higher, you’re gambling with my life // Black lives matter. Forever.” You can see his full rap in the video above.