In honor of would have been Prince’s birthday Sunday — and protests around the country over the police killing of George Floyd — the Prince estate released a new lyric video for “Baltimore.”
Prince dropped the song in 2015 in response to the death of Baltimore’s Freddie Gray, who died in police custody in April of that same year, sparking widespread protests in the city. The song was recorded on April 30 at Paisley Park Studios, with Prince playing all the instruments. It’a bouncy track that belies its dark subject matter: “Does anybody hear us pray?/For Michael Brown or Freddie Gray/Peace is more than the absence of war.” It appeared on Prince’s final album, 2015’s Hit n Run Phase Two.
“With everything going on there this week, I had a lot I needed to get out,” Prince said at the time. He also played an event in Baltimore called Rally 4 Peace, which was streamed live via Jay-Z’s Tidal.
Gray, 25, died of a severe spinal cord injury while in custody, according to the New York Times. In 2017, the Justice Department announced that the six arresting police officers would face no federal charges in his death. Gray was arrested in April of 2015 and charged with illegal possession of a switchblade. He rode in a police van after the arrest — secured by a seatbelt — and was found unresponsive after the ride. He died the next week.
In addition to the video, the Prince estate also released a timely handwritten note from the musician’s archives, reading: “Nothing more ugly in the whole wide world than intolerance [between] black, white, red, yellow, boy or girl. Intolerance.”
Prince dedicated his life to speaking out against injustice, advocating for black excellence, and spreading the message of "Love 4 One Another." In this note that he kept in his personal archives, he wrote a message that still resonates today. #Prince #Love4OneAnother pic.twitter.com/thTv9cukBV
— Prince (@prince) June 7, 2020
The U.S. is entering another week of protests in the wake of Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. All officers involved have been arrested and the City Council is now pledging to dismantle the city’s police department.