A protest song is a genre that transcends sound, and the diverse outcries this year continue to ring out. Even the sound of Minneapolis’ own Dua Saleh has varied since their last single, “Umbrellar,” which appeared on Grimy Goods’ Best New Songs Playlist in April. The Sudanese artist’s new cut is a portrait of police brutality. Called “Body Cast,” Dua Saleh’s single captures a fleeting moment of strength in the face of blatant injustice.
A field recording of an argument opens the track; agitation boiling over, a voice informs their oppressor that they know their rights are being violated. “Shut up!” they eventually scream, as the instrumentation drops in. Dua Saleh oscillates emotions between verse and chorus, spitting lines with pathos that could mobilize the neighborhood, as if their own weren’t already up in arms. Then they usher in delicate vocals on the chorus, with production by Psymun, permitting a few seconds of grief before the façade of safety crumbles and the real world floods in.
Violence perpetrated by police is not the full picture of injustice; there are many layers to acknowledge, and silence is a powerful theme. As their colleagues know, staying quiet keeps “bad” cops from facing consequences (though there are no “good” cops in a system built upon power and dominance).
As Dua Saleh carefully outlines in their lyrics on “Body Cast,” silence is also the lasting statement from those murdered by police. Saleh’s allusions to decay are unsettling and deepen the pain of this communal loss. The cover art for the single features the names of unarmed Black folk killed by police. To honor their lives, we must tear down the force that took them away—defund police now.
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by: Zoë Elaine