In the wake of Saturday’s acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, New York rapper Pharoahe Monch has released an incendiary track called “Stand Your Ground.” It’s a potent, hard song that decries the verdict through a sound somewhere between punk rock and hip-hop.
Monche is best known in New York circles as being half of the 1990s Queens, N.Y., duo Organized Konfusion, and has never shied from speaking truth to power. In a world in which many of today’s most powerful rappers have delivered rhymes about how rich, famous and fancy they are, Monch on “Stand Your Ground” takes a clear position on a controversial issue.
Unlike, for example, otherwise outspoken voices such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Drake or Rihanna, all of whom have thus far remained silent on Twitter regarding the verdict, Monch is unafraid of any potential blowback from shareholders, fans or consumers.
“I am just one man, but I know my power,” he says, half-singing, half-preaching in a voice as insistent as the rhythm. “It’s the final call, we’re in the final hour.” Behind him, harsh MC5-suggestive guitars and a hard punk beat, produced by longtime Monch collaborator Lee Stone, drive toward the chorus.
The title of the song is a reference to the controversial Florida law that Zimmerman used as the cornerstone of his defense. But Monch turns the phrase upside down to remake it as a rallying cry against the verdict — and for a united effort in response.
The result is a heavy protest song of the kind sorely missing from the pop conversation these days.
Listen to the song below, but be forewarned: There is one brief instance of cussing. If you're at work or easily offended, tune out at the 1:09 mark for a moment.