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How ‘You about to lose yo job’ became a protest chant, a rap hit and a life-changer for its originator

Protesters take a knee in front of LAPD officers at Vine Street in Hollywood.
Protesters take a knee in front of LAPD officers as they close Sunset Boulevard at Vine Street in Hollywood.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Plenty of well-known artists have released up-to-the-minute protest singles in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis cop — YG, Terrace Martin and Trey Songz among them. But none has captured the present mood of defiance quite like “Lose Yo Job.”

The viral hit remixed the irresistible audio from a homemade video featuring a 27-year-old South Carolina woman, Johnniqua Charles, as a security guard held her outside a local strip club in February. While the guard detained her, Charles pushed back on his reasons for doing so and then struck up a small dance and chanted “You about to lose yo job” in a delightfully singsongy cadence. “Get this dance! You about to lose yo job, ‘cause you are detaining me for nothing!”

The moment was a relatable and extremely meme-able bit of resistance in the face of uniformed authority. Even the guard who posted the video, Julius Locklear, admitted, “I’m posting it cause that rap was lit 😂😂😂😂😂 like I wish I could put a beat to it lol.”

But the moment got a second wind when someone actually did. DJ iMarkkeyz, who previously went viral with his remix of Cardi B’s prognostications for life under coronavirus, and DJ Suede the Remix God, looped it into a trap beat that blew up the insouciance that made Charles’ chant so appealing. DJ Suede has produced for Megan Thee Stallion and YoungBoy Never Broke Again, and turned Charles’ small moment of pushback into its own 2020 hip-hop anthem. It’s available on every major streaming platform and has already soundtracked giddy moments at local protests.

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Remixing amusing viral moments from marginalized people is dicey terrain though, and Locklear stressed he was “NOT POSTING THIS TO BE FUNNY TOWARDS THIS SUBJECT.” Turns out, the song ended up doing a lot of good in Charles’ life. She had struggled with homelessness before the video, and her 3-year-old child had been in the care of family members. But a GoFundMe campaign riding the song’s virality raised $50,000 to help get her back on her feet.

As George Floyd’s family gathered for his funeral in Houston, where he grew up, they vowed to continue the movement sparked by his death.

“You can’t hear me? Then I’m going to sing it to you,” Charles told Pitchfork in an interview. “The words just came. And I already know, if this went to your supervisor, you about to lose your job. I know my rights and I know the law.”

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That, even more than her knack for an impromptu slogan, is likely what fans are responding to. Music has been an undercurrent at big protests — just watch YG’s set on the streets of Hollywood. Locklear did not, in fact, lose his job. But after so much pent-up frustration about COVID-19, collapse of faith in government and generations of abuse at the hands of the police, someone stood up with a taunt that the tides were changing.


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