Music and protest are intrinsically linked when calling for social change. So, for this month's Mass Mix, we asked our contributors to share songs about justice, oppression, and revolution through the lens of current events in America. Here's what they said.

Boukman Eksperyans, "Kè M Pa Sote"

There are two things I love about “Kè M Pa Sote” by Boukman Eksperyans. The first is the drumming that opens the song and serves as a transition throughout. The second is the range of emotions that play out over the nine minutes and 35 seconds of the song. Sung in Haitian Creole, it begins with sadness as they sing out to Sanba (a storyteller): “Sanba, this hurts / look at what those guys did to me / Sanba, my blood is running / they gave me a burden to carry / I’m not going to carry it / the burden is too heavy.” Then the drumming transitions to upbeat kanaval (carnival) music. Translated literally, the chorus and title mean “my heart doesn’t jump,” meaning “I’m not afraid.” This is the spirit of every protest, from the 1790s or 1990s Haiti to 1960s US, to now. In the fight against oppression, we are not afraid.-Karl-Lydie Jean-Baptiste, Media Relations Manager, BAMS Fest, Inc.

Solo Artist, “I Can’t Breathe”

The impact of recent events and the cries for civil justice have resonated throughout the country and the world, with Lowell, MA being no exception. The local music community has yelled, cried, and held each other up to seek justice. Curtis Ambe, better known as SoloArtist, captured all these feelings of anguish, frustration, and determination within his recent release, “I Can’t Breath.” What is both amazing and saddening at the same time is that this powerful, emotionally-charged song was released only a mere two weeks after the death of George Floyd. It’s almost as if this song was inside Ambe the whole time just waiting to get out, which speaks volumes in and of itself. - Joel Gray, Editor in Chief, The Lowell Spin

Run the Jewels, "walking in the snow"

For years, Run the Jewels have been blowing the whistle on systemic racism and economic injustices in America, but never as conclusively as in the single "walking in the snow" on the recently released RTJ4. This gut-wrenching track covers everything from the exploitative media cycle to the school-to-prison link, and the ongoing police brutality against Black communities. Killer Mike raps, "And you so numb, you watch the cops choke out a man like me / Until my voice goes from a shriek to a whisper, 'I can't breathe'" — lyrics written before the police killing of George Floyd. The song's power isn't that it predicted the future; it's that it sheds light on the fact that these brutal acts of violence against Black people have been happening for hundreds of years, and it's about time that the rest of the country acknowledged it. -Stacy Buchanan, Managing Producer Arts & Culture,

On "walking in the snow," Killer Mike passionately raps, "And every day on evening news they feed you fear for free / And you so numb you watch the cops choke out a man like me. / And 'til my voice goes from a shriek to a whisper I can't breathe." When he wrote this line in November 2019, he was inspired by the police killing of Eric Garner in 2014. By the time the song came out on RTJ4 in June 2020, it had brought to mind the all-too-similar story of George Floyd. On "walking in the snow," Killer Mike and EL-P of Run the Jewels — along with an attitude-filled feature from Gangsta Boo — feel more in touch with the current moment of unrest than ever. The song serves as an eerie example of how slow change can be, and how desperately change needs to come. -Owen Murray, Music Coordinator, 88.9 WERS

Optic Bloom ft. Latrell James, "Movement"

Much like the political avant-pop rap of M.I.A., "Movement" protests through abrasive electronica and distorted sound. Optic Bloompacks a lot into this sub-three-minute song — including a guest feature from Latrell James and a remixed childhood bedtime prayer. Dephrase's production adds a true sense of space as sounds dart from side to side enveloping the listener, or work in-sync to blast emphasis for flowerthief's vocal retorts. The track might end with a fade-out, but it's clear the duo's drive — and demands for change — will not. Optic Bloom just announced their full-length Space Garden comes out July 12, 2020. -Knar Bedian, Editor in Chief, Sound of Boston

Tunde Adebimpe, "People"

As discouraging as the current climate in America is, it's encouraging to see so many artists lifting their voices and calling out for justice and change. Tunde Adebimpe — of TV On The Radio fame, among other things — took to Bandcamp on Juneteenth to release a one-off single called "People," with proceeds benefiting the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, and the Movement for Black Lives. As protest songs go, this one is pretty straightforward: “If you see it’s a Nazi, say it’s a Nazi, and get that Nazi out.” It's a sentiment we can all get behind. -Adam 12, Weekdays 11a-4p, ROCK 92.9

Irreversible Entanglements, “Who Sent You – Ritual”

Irreversible Entanglements is a project of Camae Ayewa, Keir Neuringer, Aquiles Navarro, Luke Stewart, and Tcheser Holmes. The song “Who Sent You – Ritual” is off their EP Who Sent You from the International Anthem label out of Chicago. If you’re looking for a pop-protest anthem, however, you are in the wrong place; this is modern avant-garde jazz at its revolutionary best. Camae Ayewa AKA Moor Mother layers ideas over noise that builds and climaxes over and again, spanning the exhausting song that runs for over fourteen minutes. This is a powerful track and is a foray into what the band says is the “punk-rocking of jazz and the mystification of the avant-garde.” -Chris Hues, Associate Editor, Boston Hassle

Meek Mill, “Otherside of America”

“Reporting from the otherside of America!” A booming protest anthem just dropped from A-list rap scion andcriminal justice reform advocate, Meek Mill. “Otherside of America” uses a heartsick violin melody and a delayed, hard-hitting trap beat that feels like a cannon blast to drive momentum and propel the voices of the Black Lives Matter movement. The song tackles systemic racism through Meek’s lyrics, which paint painful, raw images of the challenges he faced growing up as a person of color in an underserved community. -Jared Steinberg, Staff Writer,Sound of Boston

The Chicks, “March March”

The Chicks, formerly known as The Dixie Chicks, still aren't ready to make nice, and they're using their platform as country's music's rebels to send a powerful message. They announced last week that they were dropping the 'Dixie' in their name because of its connection with the Confederacy. Along with the announcement of their name change, they released a new anthem, "March March," encouraging activism, even if it feels like you're on your own: "March, march to my own drum / Hey, hey, I'm an army of one." The stunning music video weaves historical footage from protests and marches with viral social media clips from the last few weeks. It builds to a powerful conclusion, featuring a fiddle solo that grows in intensity as the names of victims of police brutality flash on the screen.-Meghan Smith, Digital Producer, WGBH