Music Monday #17: Yaara Alesia

In the light of current events, writer Yaara Aleissa shares some songs she finds relevant and how these lyrics reflect on the importance of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

More stories from Yaara Aleissa


Yaara Aleissa is a Sophomore on On the Record as a writer. Having a passion for social justice issues and inequalities throughout the world. Some fun facts about her are that she does karate and currently working her way up to a black belt hoping. For the magazine, she hope to be able to contribute her skill and try new things along the way such as photography.

The music industry is influenced by Black culture everyday through rap, r&b, hip-hop, and many other genres of music. It is important to acknowledge where this genre of music comes from because artists are building careers on it and many have the advantage of being white which allows them to thrive in the industry while undermining Black artists successes. For this week’s Music Monday I will be sharing some of my favorite songs from Black artists that share a political meaning behind the lyrics. With that being said, it is important to stay informed not just in time of a movement or protest but everyday. We shouldn’t be waiting on who’s next to speak up but demanding justice now for the ones who have lost their lives, murdered by police officers.  

We Won’t Move by Arlissa 

This song was originally written for the film The Hate U Give in response to police brutality which is represented in the film. I have been a fan of Angie Thomas’s work since the 8th grade and once I heard a film was being made for the book I was ecstatic. I remember hearing this song and just completely moved by Arlissa’s voice and the emotion behind each word she sang. The lyrics of this song comes from the protesters perspective and describes how they feel being silenced continuously and not being accurately represented. A powerful message that Arlissa sends is that silence won’t repair the damage —  more specifically the murder of innocent unarmed Black men and women —  that was done.


More Love by Queen Naija feat Mod da God

I’ve listened to Queen Naija since her self-titled EP “Queen Naija” in 2018 and ever since I have been entranced by the mellow tone of her voice when she sings. “More Love” is one of her newer singles and it was released only a week after the killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. It has not been stated whether that was intentional or not, but regardless it discusses the clear discrimination of Black people in society and the low expectations assumed of them. The lyrics of this song really just make me want to emphasize every point that is stated by both the artists. One lyric that remains stuck to me is when Mod da God raps, “Where people hide behind a page, and say the type of things that they won’t say to no one face to face”. We have seen many people all over social media who continue to disregard the movement. But to those who are using their voice and informing themselves about the issue it is important to carry that same image in public or as Mod da God said “face to face”.


BIGGER by Beyoncé feat RAYE

This song comes from Beyoncé’s album “The Lion King: The Gift”. While this takes from the theme represented in “The Lion King” about the role of Mufasa as the king of the Pride Lands it also serves as a reminder to those who feel like they have no power. The intro of the song starts off with Beyoncé’s euphonious voice that just frees me of all my anxiety and leaves me in an  alleviated state. Her intro begins with the lyrics, “If you feel insignificant, you better think again, better wake up because you’re part of something way bigger”. As the song continues Beyoncé and RAYE return to their message of remembering your worth and that everything you are doing is towards an outcome that is beyond just yourself. Just as we are seeing with the Black Lives Matter protests. We may not be affected directly by an issue but doesn’t mean that we can stay silent. 


Rise Up by Andra Day

My seventh grade band teacher would always have a song playing on his stereo when we came into the classroom. He played this song for us once and continued to play it for us everytime we walked into his classroom. He shared with us his interpretation of the powerful meaning behind Andra Day’s lyrics which was, to keep going especially when there are people doubting you and this has been something that has always stuck by me. Andra Day has a phenomenal voice that just leaves you inspired by her power. Listen to the song all the way and just focus on her lyrics that encourage people to keep going even when you are hurting and find hope. 


A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke

The Black Lives Matter hashtag started in 2013 but the protests and movement for Black lives has been going on even farther before that. Sam Cooke, a singer and civil-rights activist was a Black man living in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. In this song he sings about the fight to end racial discrimination and segregation. Sam Cooke knows that the road to justice isn’t easy and he says that in the chorus where he repeats, “It’s been a long, a long time coming, But I know a change gonna come”. He remains hopeful that through all the efforts there will be a time to relax but until then we keep working towards that change. 


Preach by John Legend 

One of my favorite things about John Legend’s music is his lyrics. With every song I can hear the story behind it while still being able to create my own story out of it. In his song “Preach” there isn’t just a story but a message. The lyrics of the song that moved me were , “I can’t sit and hope, I can’t just sit and pray that, I can’t find the love when all I see is pain”. These lyrics were inspired by The March For Our Lives organization but stand relevant with current protests. We can’t just say we want change or we are praying for change. We need to act towards the change and justice that we seek. 


Crooked Smile by J. Cole feat TLC

Just writing about this song makes me feel moved and uplifted by knowing that there are artists using their platform to help empower change. This song is about feeling confident with your imperfections and not falling down to a beauty standard or personality trait that is expected of you. But these lyrics also draw attention to the imperfections of our own society. Jermaine Cole who goes by the stage name J. Cole raps the lyrics, “Look at the nation, that’s a crooked smile braces couldn’t even straighten, seem like half the race is either on probation or in jail”. The use of “crooked smile” is a phrase used throughout the song which shifts it’s meaning in this verse. This verse refers to “crooked smile” as the racial discrimination and violence that originates from the failure to see beyond the differences of an individual. 


Hands Up by Daye Jack feat Killer Mike 

This song is a new one for me that I recently discovered and when I listen to new songs the two things that stick out to me the most are, the lyrics of the song  and the tone of the artist’s voice. Daye Jack sings the chant “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and in an interview he described this  as being more than a protest chant, it is real life. We can see this in action with recent protests all over the country where people are forming lines, with both hands up in the air as they stand in front of police officers. However hands up in the air is enough for police officers to turn a peaceful protest into a violent one.