Producer J. Period has recruited the Roots' Black Thought, De La Soul's Posdnuos and Pharoahe Monch for "Rise Up!," a song inspired by the wave of political activism sweeping the nation. Rolling Stone exclusively presents the protest anthem, which also features Joss Stone as well as excerpts of speeches from Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy.
J. Period, who worked on the docuseries America Divided as well as The Hamilton Mixtape, told Rolling Stone that his experience on that Broadway smash helped inspire "Rise Up!" ("Rise up" is a popular refrain in the musical's "My Shot.")
"My work with Lin Manuel-Miranda and The Roots on The Hamilton Mixtape last year was a stark reminder of the power of music to carry a message: Hamilton had little kids rapping about American history because the music itself is so good," the producer said. "I felt that if we could create compelling music around these issues, we might help light a similar fire in listeners.""These are turbulent times in America, with protests and marches spilling out into the streets in record numbers, and activism on the rise. 'Rise Up' was born out of that same energy," J. Period continued, adding that the song "aims to remind us of the higher ideals we’re fighting for when we call for justice: unity, equality, diversity, empathy."
To help spread the song's message, J. Period linked up with "three legendary poets": Pharoahe Monch, Posdnuos and Black Thought, who the producer previously worked with for the Hamilton project.
"'Rise Up' is very necessary. Point blank," Black Thought said of the track. "It speaks to the current political climate in this country in a way that is clear and articulate. It meant a lot for me to be able show such solidarity with a few of my fellow artists and long time collaborators. Projects like this are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the sort of creative push back that is yet to come out of such absurdly turbulent times."
Posdnuos added of "Rise Up," which has been in the works since before Donald Trump's victory, "It means we are willing to invest our creativity, our time ... to speak upon something that we can’t just ignore. With the state of affairs our country is in it's definitely time to rise up as scholars, organizers, activist entertainers and just everyday people and be counted in!"