Ahead of his appearance at a Baltimore rally Sunday, Prince has weighed in on the civil unrest in the city over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody with a new song, “Baltimore,” that decries injustice while also calling for an end to violence.
“R we gonna C another bloody day / We’re tired of people cryin' & people dyin' / Let's take all the guns away,” the 56-year-old artist sings in the punchy funk-rock track that has been posted to Soundcloud and credited to Prince and his backing band 3rdEyeGirl. (And yes, this is how the lyrics are annotated, according to Warner Bros. and Prince's label, NPG Records.)
Recorded at Prince's Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minn., the song is less viscerally scathing than other recent-vintage political protest songs such as Tom Morello’s “Marching on Ferguson” or J. Cole's "Be Free," both written in response to the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer -- or further back, "Ohio," Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s outcry against the killings of four protesting Kent State University students by National Guard troops in 1970. But the lyrics are still powerful: “Does anybody hear us pray / 4 Michael Brown or Freddie Gray / Peace is more than the absence of war.”
Prince is scheduled to sing the new song on Mother’s Day at his Rally 4 Peace event at Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena. The concert's audio will stream online for free via Tidal (for subscribers and nonsubscribers alike). Some proceeds from the event will be donated to youth charities in the city.
"In a spirit of healing, the event is meant to be a catalyst for pause and reflection following the outpouring of violence that has gripped Baltimore and areas throughout the U.S," Prince wrote in a press release announcing the rally earlier this week. "As a symbolic message of our shared humanity and love for one another, attendees are invited to wear something gray in tribute to all those recently lost in the violence."
Listen to the song below.